View the Compass from any angle but head-on, and the similarities to the Grand Cherokee disappear.
The front overhang is long and low, giving the impression of a snout-like nose where the Grand Cherokee sits more upright. Even the uplevel Compass Limited has black plastic mirrors, window pillars and lower door moldings. Like before, the sides plump out at the rear fenders, extending all the way to the base of the D-pillars. It’s a clumsy, overweight cue Jeep needed to resolve, but didn’t. Fixing the Compass’ ghastly face was Job One, but it wasn’t the only job.
Inside, the Compass comes up short versus the field, and with a starting price of just over $19,000, it faces stiff crossover competitors from the Chevy Equinox to the Honda CR-V. Jeep threw in its new corporate steering wheel, which is a nice bit of work. New climate controls and padded door panels are equally welcome. But the Compass’ cabin design is tiring, and Chrysler needs to exorcise a few of its oft-bungled areas, such as the clunky window controls and rubbery wiper stalks.
Like before, the backseat sits high off the ground and offers decent legroom, and the front seats have good thigh support. The leather in the Compass Limited, however, is wretched stuff; it feels more like vinyl.
Jeep’s addition of Freedom Drive II earns the Compass a trail-rated badge, but apart from the off-road capability, there’s little draw. Even with its 2.0-liter four-cylinder and front-wheel drive, the automatic model gets a middling 24 mpg overall. The front-drive Kia Sportage and Chevy Equinox, meanwhile, get 25 mpg and 26 mpg, respectively.