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2023 Jeep Compass – New Compass Points to Power

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2023 Jeep Compass – New Compass Points to Power

2023 Jeep Compass

New Compass Points to Power

As a fitting follow-up to the 2022 model that brought the interior to the 21st century, the 2023 Jeep Compass gets new propulsion. Even if you’ve never driven one, testers, commenters and many owners still knew it was needed. The transformation is just as evident as last year’s cabin upgrades, but is it worth the premium pricing it comes with?

The previous 2.4-liter “Tigershark” engine – which sounded what I imagine a tiger and a shark thrashing on a shoreline would sound – is gone, replaced by a 2-liter turbocharged four, while both the six and nine-speed automatics have been replaced with an eight-speed. You may argue a drop from nine speeds to eight is not an improvement, but as ninth gear was really useful only for 80-plus-mph cruising without a headwind, refinement and drivability are vastly improved, and the new engine can use top gear far more than the old one; drive both before you blast me.

Rated at 200 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque the 2.0 isn’t as powerful as its cousins in other Jeeps, and far less stressed than those punching out 300+ ponies, all in the name of fuel economy (up two mpg from last year) and operating on regular unleaded. The low-pressure turbo delivers the torque you’ll drive on 95% of the time 2000 revs earlier; when combined with new hydraulic mounts it’s entirely more relaxing to drive, rack up miles or climb a mountain pass. For the five percent you need max hustle, Jeep claims the new powertrain improves 0-60 acceleration from a soporific 9.3 seconds to 7.8. It feels at least that much quicker and while not class-leading (Compass is no lightweight) it makes the compact crossover competitive.

The 2023 is altogether more pleasant to drive, one I would not turn down for an 800-mile/day trip as I used to. Steering is light but accurate, brake response from the firm pedal is quick and easy to modulate, and body motions are well controlled. Ride quality skews slightly to the performance side, but I suspect that’d only be uncomfortable on unpaved or potholed roads on its 19-inch wheels. 

For 2023 every Compass comes with all-wheel drive, a 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 system, and wireless CarPlay and Android Auto. These are just icing on the cake in the new cabin, giving the impression Jeep is thinking like Mazda and moving to more “premium” interior designs, and the bit I like most is the rear seat well off the ground for better leg support…like it was designed more for carrying people than how quickly it folds to carry junk. What a concept.

And the big thing Compass has going for it – and its immediate competition doesn’t – is the Trailhawk model, since Jeep corporate insists everything with a Jeep badge needs to be more capable off the highway than competitors. To that end, the Trailhawk variant gets the most-aggressive generous-sidewall tires in the lineup, an extra half-inch of ground clearance, no airdam for obstacle clearance (or those who determine snowbank depth by charging into them), a matching spare tire, skid plates, tow hooks, lower gearing, hill descent control, multiple drive modes and obligatory wallpaper. It’ll do everything any other Compass will do on pavement, go further into more difficult terrain than most, and—attention urban dwellers—turns tighter than any other Compass.

Of course, all these standard upgrades and improved powertrain bump pricing, the least-expensive Sport from $31,590 to Trailhawk and Limited in the $37,000 range—and the first-drive samples all had $7,000 to $9,000 in options with stickers of $40,755 to $46,290. That makes Compass a bit of a tweener, sized outside more like a Mazda CX-30 or Honda HR-V but priced more like a CX-5 (~$38-42K for the 256-hp turbo) or CR-V (~$33-37.5K), with cabin and cargo room often splitting the difference. 

In terms of its pricing, Jeep’s Compass would seem to be pointing north…

Mr. Whale's been breaking parts for 45 years and writing about it for 30. An award-winning writer, he's served as Technical Editor on several major magazines, been published in more than 40 outlets, and served as driving instructor and motoring book judge. He's a member of the Motor Press Guild, Texas Auto Writers Association, and if you say "It's OK, I'm a racer" to him he'll run to the nearest large body of water.

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