Few automobile brands are as fabled as Jeep. If you don’t know, Autoweek has a nice recap: “Jeep’s early history is legendary. Its role in helping defeat the Axis powers during World War II is undeniable. On the battlefield, the Jeep was fast, nimble and tough. It could handle nearly any terrain, and when it did get stuck, it was light enough for soldiers to lift free. It towed anti-tank weapons that could be deployed quickly, and it could mount a machine gun for fighting infantry. The Jeep also served as an ambulance on the battlefield. It forded rivers and traversed lakes, it came ashore on D-Day, and it carried the Allies all the way to Berlin and onto Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima and, eventually, onto the mainland shores of a defeated Japan.”
The Jeep heritage is not only a patriotic one, then, but a tale of tough, rugged, reliable and astonishingly all-terrain, from rivers to beaches, and everything in between. Modern drivers aren’t looking for tough, though, they’re looking for the intersection of tough-looking and luxurious, and the 2018 Jeep Compass Limited definitely fits the bill. Indeed, the interior of this vehicle is remarkably, no, startlingly luxurious, from the seats to the heated steering wheel to the huge double-size moonroof. Is it still able to ford streams and climb up a mountain? Perhaps, but unfortunately I wasn’t really able to test it on a rugged course, so like most SUV drivers, I stuck to highways and byways, exploring its comfort features more than its outdoor roots.
From the exterior it looks like, well, most modern SUVs:
The front features some powerful headlights great for night driving, and the modern Jeep grill that’s evolved quite a bit over the years from its purely functional origin. A close look at the side mirrors shows that they have built-in turn indicator lights too; this isn’t granddad’s Jeep, that’s for sure.
Notice also in the shot above the weird wiper blades: the driver’s blade is huge, almost 2/3 of the windshield, and the passenger side blade is not only much, much shorter, it also doesn’t recess all the way down and is always visible from the interior. A curious design given that wiper blades have gone through so many decades of evolution at this point.
The rear shows that it is indeed a 4×4 and the sleek forward lines. It leans into the road, a decidedly aggressive stance that reminds me of an animal poised to spring. The back grill is interesting too, not a feature you see on many vehicles. The rear hatch is automated: lifting the rear gate handle engages the opening feature, which was a bit rough on this particular vehicle, not a smooth and gradual opening as I expected. Completely functional, but a bit surprisingly to see it sputter open nonetheless.
Where the Compass really shines is the interior, and as I said earlier, it’s remarkably luxurious:
I’m sure granddad’s buddies would have loved a vehicle like this to drive! The seats are super comfortable and with a wealth of features and settings – and a very nice audio system that features CarPlay – there’s lots of reason to look forward to jumping in the Jeep Compass.
Jeep hasn’t forgotten its heritage, though, and the vehicle’s ready to switch to 4×4 for just about any terrain:
Notice that instead of assuming drivers know Hi and Lo 4WD or similar, this is now designed to be more oriented around the type of terrain you’ll be encountering. A nod to the modern reality that the Compass is less likely to be driven by an outdoor and 4×4 enthusiast and more likely to be a soccer mom [or dad!] who hits bad weather on the way to picking up the kids at school. Modern times.
As befits a modern car, the Compass also has a wealth of plugs and ports available, including within the arm rest, on the front dash (as shown above) and a terrific connectivity center for rear passengers:
Where was a 110 outlet when I was a kid? And a USB connection too? I could probably live in the back seat if you add good wi-fi. 🙂 I mean, it already has cupholders that would be fantastic on an airplane:
Again, it’s a remarkable amount of luxury and a beautiful fit and finish, particularly for a vehicle that, fully decked out, is still in the mid-30’s. Quite comparable to SUVs costing $10K more from other manufacturers.
But the 2018 Jeep Compass Limited isn’t without its oddities either. It took me forever to figure out how to turn on or off the interior lights based on the door being opened or closed: I kept looking at the sunroof control area for the switch:
Tip: It’s not there. In fact, it doesn’t appear you can turn this feature off, though there are some door related settings in the rather complex on-screen settings for the vehicle.The other feature that had me stumped for a while was how to get the rear wiper to engage. I kept trying the outermost control of the stem controllers, but that wasn’t where it’s located. It is on the same stem as the front wiper controls, however, and with a photo to study, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly:
It’s the innermost wheel that controls the rear wiper. Confusing and quite unlike any other vehicle I’ve driven, though as with many features once you’ve driven this vehicle for a few weeks, all of this just becomes the new normal for you…
Speaking of the new normal, fuel efficiency is about what you’d expect from a modern SUV, though much lower than I’d like:
This is the entire front gauge setup and it’s terrific. You can see the tach on the left, speedometer on the right, fuel efficiency gauge in the center screen, engine temp and gas level on the edges and an indication that at my average of 22mpg I have 40 miles left before I run out of fuel entirely. Time to fill up!
Overall, I really enjoyed driving the 2018 Jeep Compass Limited and was startled at the low pricetag on the Monroney, as configured. The vehicle has a notable lack of oomph when you push it, like most SUVs, but it’s ready for inclement weather, bad driving conditions and can keep you in comfort the entire time. Very nice, and well worth considering if you seek a family SUV without a $50K price tag.
AS DRIVEN: 2018 Jeep Compass Limited 4×4, Billet Silver exterior, Black interior with leather trim, 2.4L I4 M-Air Engine with 9-speed automatic transmission. Optional features: Advanced Safety & Lighting Group, Safety and Security Group, Navigation Group, Dual-Pane Sunroof, Power Liftgate and Compact Spare Tire. Base: $29.095. As driven: $34,860.
Disclosure: Jeep loaned me the Compass Ltd 4×4 for a week of driving so that I could write this review. Thanks, Jeep!