By Joe Wiesenfelder on January 13, 2013
Astute observers will see some cosmetic tweaks on the 2014 Jeep Compass compact SUV, such as new grille colors and textures as well as new bezel treatments around the headlights, fog lights and taillights, but the most significant changes are in the powertrains.
A five-speed manual transmission remains standard on the Compass Sport, but the step up is a six-speed automatic that replaces the previous model's continuously variable automatic transmission. Mileage estimates aren't yet available, but Jeep says there should be no sacrifice in mileage for the six-speed.
The CVT, which we never cared for, remains in the lineup, though Jeep describes it as a refined second generation. It comes only with Freedom Drive II four-wheel drive and the Off-Road Package, which are designed for true off-road use. The less ambitious Freedom Drive I, which is designed for foul weather and light off-roading, teams with the six-speed automatic.
The CVT sticks around for this usage because its broad range of gear ratios gives Freedom Drive II a final drive ratio as high as 8.14 — much more off-road-capable than the 3.37 ratio you get with the six-speed and Freedom Drive I (2.4-liter engine; 3.65 with the 2.0-liter). Jeep kindly offers front- or all-wheel drive on any Compass trim level.
Previously optional, the front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags are now standard. A backup camera is now available as an option.
The 2014's upgraded interior adds chrome accents, a vinyl-wrapped center armrest and updated instrument panel graphics on the upper trim levels; the Sport trim remains relatively stripped. The Latitude trim level has new accent-stitched mesh-and-vinyl seats, and the Limited offers Saddle Brown perforated leather upholstery. Basic Uconnect is standard but navigation is optional.
Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder, a Cars.com launch veteran, leads the car evaluation effort. He owns a 1984 Mercedes 300D and a 2002 Mazda Miata SE. Email Joe