Jeep has not one but two new compact additions to its SUV lineup for the 2007 model year.
Joining the Jeep stable is the all-new Compass, which shares the same platform as the Dodge Caliber crossover.
While the Compass is marketed as a compact SUV, like the Caliber, it really is more of a crossover.
It is also the only non-Trail Rated model in the Jeep lineup; however, consumers can opt for the available full-time, active four-wheel drive system with lock mode.
After spending a week behind the wheel of the Compass, I will say I was very impressed with its car-like ride and handling on the road ó not to mention the fact that it comfortably seats five adults and still has more than 22 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seat.
I also didnít mind its 30 mpg fuel-efficiency rating either.
Whether you call it an SUV or a crossover, thatís a tough combination to beat ó especially when you factor in the Compassí base price, which begins at $15,985.
I also like the fact that itís loaded with standard safety features such as side-curtain airbags, brake traction control, electronic stability program, brake assist, electronic roll mitigation and anti-lock brakes.
Two trim lines are available ó Jeep Compass Sport and Jeep Compass Limited. Both are powered by a 2.4-liter I-4 engine with variable valve timing and mated to either a five-speed manual or continuously variable ratio (CVT) transmission.
Using regular unleaded gasoline, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 26 mpg city/30 mpg highway for front-wheel drive models equipped with manual transmission and 24 mpg city/27 mpg highway for front-wheel drive models equipped with the CVT. EPA for four-wheel drive models are rated at 25 mpg city/29 mpg highway with manual transmission, 23 mpg city/26 mpg highway with CVT.
Also impressive is the long list of standard features, which include outdoor temperature display, sound system with auxiliary audio input jack, 12-volt power outlet, center console, 60/40 split fold-flat rear seats, tilt steering column, Sentry Key theft-deterrent system, rear window wiper/washer with defroster, fog lamps and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
Limited models (base price starting at $20,735) add leather trimmed, heated bucket seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, power windows, speed-sensitive power locks, remote keyless entry, fold-away power mirrors, fold-flat front passenger seat, passenger assist handles, 115-volt auxiliary power outlet, cruise control, rear-view automatic dimming mirrors, universal garage door opener, tire pressure monitoring system and 18-inch aluminum wheels.
In addition to four-wheel drive and CVT transmission, there is also an assortment of optional features available on both the Sport and Limited models, including a power-express sunroof, premium Boston Acoustics audio system, Sirius Satellite Radio, UConnect Hands-Free Communications system, Auto Stick, navigation and YES Essentials stain and odor resistant seat fabric.
During my week-long test drive in the Compass Sport 4X2, I was impressed with both its affordability and its ride and handling on the road.
Whether you call it a compact SUV or crossover, for those looking for SUV features and car-like ride with fuel economy in mind, the Jeep Compass is worth a test drive.
Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 15 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. Comments may be sent to Neal at email@example.com.