2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk

There are few vehicles with such a thorough transformation as the new Jeep Compass. While the old Compass was uninspired and ineffective, the new one introduced in mid-year is stylish and packed with true-off road ability, especially in Trailhawk form.

With high ground clearance, aggressive tires, tow hooks, and under-chassis skid plates, this Jeep can go where there are no roads. Of course, the Trailhawk version is four-wheel-drive. Base compass models are front-drive.

The new interior is light years ahead of the old one and can be customized with reasonably priced option packages. While I was lukewarm on the front buckets – too flat for my taste – I was glad to see full Jeep functionality of the four-wheel drive system. There are five settings depending on surface, including rock crawl mode.

Four-wheel drive models get a 9-speed automatic or, surprisingly, a 6-speed manual shift. The updated Uconnect system and $900 navigation group is better than ever, with lightning fast responses from the oversized touchscreen.

Row two legroom is quite good for such a compact machine.

The power rear hatch is a $500 option and reveals decent cargo space. Row two seatbacks fold almost flat, and in true Jeep fashion, a full-sized spare is included.

The 2.4 liter in the Compass puts out 180 horsepower. That’s not bad, but this is a heavy vehicle. That means sluggish acceleration. On-road manners are not as refined as other small SUVs not meant to venture off-road.

So, for the 2017 new model Jeep Compass Trailhawk, I say thumbs up to improved styling, improved interior, and true off-road ability; thumbs down to being under powered.

I averaged about 26 miles per gallon. The as-tested sticker is $34,460.

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