The 2007 Compass may be designed as a mild off-roader, but Jeep knows how to maximize a vehicle's off-road ability. The Compass features a class-leading 8.6 inches of ground clearance and steep approach and break-over angles. The four-wheel drive Compass employs Freedom Drive I system, which features a driver-controllable locking center differential that redirects torque from the front wheels to up to a 50/50 split between front and rear wheels when needed. For safety, the Compass includes a standard three-mode electronic stability program that can be switched off to improve off-road performance.
Two powerplant options are available. The 2.4L engine, widely used throughout Chrysler's line, produces 172 horsepower and is standard on all Compasses. An optional 2.0L engine is unique to the base Sport trim. Both engines utilize variable valve timing technology to maximize power and fuel efficiency.
For slightly more than $1,000, an optional CVT can be paired with either engine. Its infinitely variable ratios work to improve engine response and fuel economy by constantly monitoring throttle input and adjusting transmission ratios for either power or economy. On the four-wheel-drive version, the CVT offers AutoStick, in which the transmission mimics six driver-selectable individual ratios for manual selection by steering wheel paddles. This feature is handy for hill descents and off-road use.
While the Compass is a value-oriented SUV, stylish touches abound, such as 17" aluminum wheels, fog lamps, a CD player with auxiliary input, an iPod holder in the center console, and a chrome shift knob. Air conditioning and the Power Equipment Group, which includes power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, and keyless entry, are optional, as is a Boston Acoustics Sound Group, and a six-disc CD changer costs another $320.
The Limited trim replaces the 17" wheels with 18" alloys. It also adds power mirrors, heated leather seats, a leather steering wheel, power windows, power door locks, cruise control, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, and a rechargeable lamp.