Jeep Compass the fun-to-drive CUV adds a fuel-sipping engine
, Tue, 22 Sep 2009 01:47:00 PDT
SEASIDE, Ore. -- A new Compass Sport, Jeep's economy-minded crossover utility vehicle for the compact class, heads west on U.S. 26, the Sunset Highway, bound for Seaside on the rugged Pacific Coast of Oregon.Compass offers fun-to-drive handling traits with front-wheel-drive (FWD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction options, but the issues of 2010 add a new powertrain option from a fuel-sipping 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine oriented with FWD traction and a five-speed manual transmission to deliver up to 29 mpg for cruising down the highway.
The thrifty new in-line-four engine, constructed with a die-cast aluminum block and cast-aluminum cylinder heads, features dual overhead cams (DOHC) with four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing (VVT).It produces 158 hp at 6400 rpm and torque of 141 lb-ft at 5000 rpm.And it configures strictly with FWD traction, but shows the option of an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Jeep's goal for adding the new 2.0-liter engine option seems strictly to deliver higher fuel economy figures.Compass also stocks a larger four-cylinder engine with options for FWD or AWD traction.The 2.4-liter four-pack with dual VVT produces 172 hp at 6000 rpm plus torque of 165 lb-ft at 4400 rpm.
It comes with either the five-speed manual shifter or the optional automatic CVT.Fuel economy ratings for the larger engine in Compass range from 23/28 mpg (city/highway) with FWD and the manual stick to 21/24 mpg (city/highway) with AWD and the CVT.Formatted as a five-door hatchback wagon, Compass defies the traditional body-on-frame organization of a Jeep SUV built on a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) platform.
Instead, Compass employs the unified structure of a FWD car, namely the stiff global platform also used for the Dodge Caliber.And Compass has the independent suspension of a car.Instead of the solid rear axle of a typical truckish SUV, Compass gets independent suspension elements for every wheel. This brings more control over the vehicle for a driver and more comfortable ride sensations for riders.
With the car-like suspension and a quick-to-respond rack and pinion steering system aboard, Compass seems to eliminate all of the effort required to drive a SUV.It's easy to maneuver in city traffic, as we discover when threading through congested downtown streets in Portland, Ore., at the outset of a day of driving tests.And it looks sharp too -- so sleek in a taut package dressed with progressive shapes.
Compass stands tall in the traditional two-box format of a wagon but with all corners contoured and the horizontal lines chiseled and planed in streamline fashion.The familiar Jeep signature of a seven-slot grille flanked by articulated round headlamps becomes a focal point on the prow, which tapers from a narrow top to the broad bottom with deep fascia adding visual solidity to the stance.
Muscular features show up in the trapezoidal wheel openings with sculptured fenders. And note the black trim strip extending from the base of a raked windshield over the pair of flank doors to an integrated rear-roof spoiler.Front and rear overhangs have been whittled away and wheels on the four corners are proportionally big, conveying an impression of strength and power.
Despite the classification as a compact car, Compass has a passenger compartment of generous scale with seats for five and ample space in the tail section for stowing gear.Layout of the cabin consists of a pair of contoured buckets up front and followed by a bench broad enough for three but with indents for two.Seatbacks on the second row split in 60/40 sections and fold down to extend the floor of the rear cargo bay, which has 53.6 cubic feet of room with rear seats flat or 22.7 cubic feet with seatbacks raised.
* A self-recharging lamp in the headliner of the cargo bay snaps out of its housing for flashlight duty.* Right front seatback folds down to fashion a flat table-top surface.* Sliding armrest -- to fit a petite driver.* 115-volt power outlet -- to juice electronic gear.* Cradle -- for your iPod or cell phone in a flip-open pocket of the center armrest.* Sun and Sound Group -- with a sun roof, Sirius satellite radio, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, plus nine Boston Acoustics audio speakers including a subwoofer and two speakers on the tailgate which swing down to face rearward for a tailgate party.
Measures for passenger safety in the cabin extend from the sturdy safety-cage construction to front seatbelts with load-limited and pretensioning apparatus, backseat restraints with upper and lower anchors to mount a child's seat, smart multi-stage air bags up front and curtain-style air bags concealed in headliners above side windows for outboard seats in front and back.
Compass also stocks some active safety systems designed to avoid accidents, including the quick-response rack and pinion steering system and anti-lock brake system (ABS) plus anti-skid devices via electronic stability control (ESC) coupled to a traction control system (TCS), brake assist (BA), even electronic roll mitigation (ERM) to check a roll-over, and hill-start assist (HSA) with the manual five-speed transmission.
The optional AWD device for Compass has a lock mode labeled Freedom Drive I.The equipment normally runs in FWD mode, yet an electrically controlled coupling can divert as much as 60 percent of the engine's torque to the rear wheels when additional tire grip is required.Rack a lever to lock the center coupling and this system splits the powertrain's muscle 50-50 between front and back tires for tricky traction situations like slippery snow or off-road sand.
Jeep brings the Compass to market with low price points which begin below $19,000.