Saddled with a mediocre power plant and an unattractive and downmarket cabin, the Jeep Compass compact SUV hasn't been the brand's best representative, let alone its best seller. Even though it's probably been the best small crossover to get you off the beaten path in recent years, with the little guy left me wanting more on-road performance and refinement. To answer that call -- and to try and address Ford's strong new -- Jeep is launching a refreshed 2022 model at this week's Chicago Auto Show. The updated model adds a sophisticated interior, reworked suspension, additional convenience and safety tech, and even a few exterior tweaks. However, the Compass really needs a makeover under the hood, and it seems 2022 is not its year.
For the new model year, the Compass will be available in Sport, Latitude, a new Latitude LUX trim, Limited and Trailhawk guises. Already a decent-looking crossover, the latest Compass receives a revised front fascia with a new mid-grille that extends between the available LED fog lights. Standard LED headlights have been tightened up, and overall, the front end is an improvement. The off-road-oriented Trailhawk model gets the requisite front tow hooks and some cool hood decals in red and black. The mid-grille is larger here to maximize air flow, but none of the rough-and-tumble look from last year is gone. I dig it.
Inside, things have gotten much more urbane. What was once a clunky cabin is now much more streamlined with what look to be quality materials (we'll know more once we check it out in person). Photos show a well-designed two-tone interior that really brings it up a few notches from last year. The three-spoke steering wheel is much slimmer and the front seats can be had both heated and cooled. For the first time, rear passengers get their chance of hot-cross buns thanks to an available heated second-row.
Jeep is going all-in on screens for the 2022 Compass. While a 3.5-inch gauge cluster is standard on lower trims and a 7-inch cluster graces the rest of the lineup, a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster will be available on upper trims. While the 8.4-inch touchscreen is standard, there's also a new available 10.1-inch touchscreen running parent company Stellantis' Uconnect 5 infotainment system. Always a favorite here at Roadshow, Uconnect 5 is five times more responsive than the outgoing model and features wirelessand , Amazon Alexa integration as standard and it's capable of dual Bluetooth device pairings.
Speaking of standard, advanced driver's aids include full-speed collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian/cyclist detection, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist, as well as blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-path detection.
Consumers will still have to pony up for higher trim levels for things like a 360-degree camera, full-speed adaptive cruise control, parallel and perpendicular park assist and the new traffic sign recognition system that can take into account weather, trailering status and school and work zones, as well as displaying a Do Not Pass icon when appropriate.
A new hands-on Highway Assist combines lane centering and adaptive cruise control to help ease commuting and long-distance stresses on approved highways. However, the tech will have late availability and will only be found on upper trims.
Device charging gets a boost with USB-A and -C ports up front, as well as available wireless charging. Rear-seat passengers get at least one USB-A port, with the option of one USB-C and a 115-volt electrical outlet.
The Compass' powertrain doesn't appear to have received any upgrades, however. In fact, the 2.4-liter Tigershark inline four-cylinder actually makes fewer ponies than last year: 177 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque compared to 180 hp and 175 lb-ft. That's a middling amount, and when last I drove the Compass, I found it to be sluggish and just plain frustrating to drive.
Getting the power to the ground is a six-speed automatic transmission in front-wheel-drive models or a nine-speed automatic when power goes to all four wheels. Unless the powertrain has undergone some major shift-point calibration, I expect the same lackluster performance with slow downshifts and eager upshifts out of the nine-speed. I haven't driven the six-speed, but it may be better with its longer ratios.
Two-wheel-drive Compasses throw power to the front wheels while four-wheel drive models get Jeep's Active Drive system that automatically engages the rear wheels when extra traction is needed. The Trailhawk trim builds on that with Active Drive Low, with a low range and a crawl ratio of 20:1.
Fuel economy remains the same for the 2022 model, so expect 22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined for the FWD model, with AWD models slipping slightly to 30 mpg on the highway.
In addition to a retuned suspension, the Compass also gets the Selec-Terrain Management system with modes for auto, snow, sport and sand/mud. The Trailhawk goes one step beyond with an additional rock mode and hill-descent control. Other goodies include a 1-inch lift for 8.6 inches of ground clearance, 30 degrees of approach angle, 24 degrees of breakover angle and 34 degrees of departure angle. There isn't a locking rear differential but the Compass Trailhawk can ford up to 19 inches of water. If you want to get far away from it all in a compact crossover, this is a model to seriously consider.
The new Latitude LUX trim is four-wheel-drive only, with heated front seats and steering wheel, the upgraded 10.1-inch infotainment screen, adaptive cruise control, park assist and a 360-degree camera. Buyers will be able to option it to be more LUX-ier with premium LED lighting, dual-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof and a foot-activated liftgate, to name just a few features.
The 2022 Jeep Compass 4x2 starts at $26,490 including $1,495 for destination. Expect to pay $1,500 more for four-wheel drive. The new Latitude LUX will set you back $31,090, while the Trailhawk and Limited trims go for a cool $32,890. We should see the compact SUV in Jeep dealerships this fall.