You might call it the softer side of Jeep. Or Jeep junior. Or Jeep suburban chic.
Whatever the designation, this newcomer from the brand that brought us the original sport utility concept is unlike any other vehicle to wear the famed four letter word. Some who covet the "it's a Jeep thing" motto, might have some discomfort at the idea of the original tough guy going mainstream, and on a front-drive foundation at that. But for budget, pampering, comfort, duty, and an expected quantity of less-than-outdoorsy types who want Jeep punch without losing panache, it should be a natural.
Just look at the looks. There's still the familiar seven slot grille that defines the face of every Jeep vehicle, the requisite round headlamps that purists fought to get back from banishment, the high riding front and defined wheel well arches that give silent testimony to a strong, off-roadworthy heritage underneath that plays out in sure-footed reality, although less intensely than its brasher brothers. But check out the rear deck treatment with subtle slanted corners, the slight spoiler over the rear hatch window and a long sweeping line that flows from nose to tail, unlike the squared off image almost synonymous with "Jeep."
Grunt, such as it is, comes from the only available powerplant, a 2.4L (172-hp; 165-lb. ft of torque) four with mileage rated at 23/26 (automatic) and 25/29 (manual). Versions equipped with the fuel-saving continuous variable auto trans won't jump forward like a startled jackrabbit since CVT is designed to take out the jolt. (Choose the manual shift for more haunch in the launch.) Available four-wheel drive, traction control, ABS, and anti-roll add authoritative grip under duress.
Traditionalists might balk at a commuter's Jeep with sass (check the love-hate blogs out there). Those who have longed for a rugged, refined, electronically up-to-date legend should have no trouble shelling out $16,000 base (low 20's with amenities). And, yes, the driver's information panel has a compass.
Click Here to Read RTM's 2007 Jeep Compass Road Test