Vehicle Overview

The new 2007 Compass sport utility vehicle is Jeep's first front-wheel-drive model, built on a new car platform developed in partnership with Mitsubishi and shared with the Dodge Caliber compact hatchback.

The Compass is a great example of why so-called crossover vehicles are supplanting traditional truck-based SUVs. The popular Jeep Liberty is a traditional compact/midsize SUV with a heavy duty frame and full offroad capability, but it is almost identical in size to the new Compass, which is considered a compact. The Compass is within 2 to 3 inches of the Jeep Liberty in exterior dimensions except for height, where it is 6 inches shorter. Likewise, the cabin volume measurements are within 1 cubic foot of each other, and front-seat headroom and legroom are almost identical. The Liberty's maximum cargo volume is 69 cubic feet versus the Compass' 60.7 cubic feet.

So where's the difference? Weight, for one thing. Comparable versions of the Liberty weigh as much as 700 pounds more. This means the Compass is sure to get notably better fuel economy, though EPA mileage estimates aren't yet available. This model is also easier to get into, and is almost certain to ride and handle more like a car than a truck. If there's a drawback, it's in the areas of off-roading and towing, which aren't relevant for the majority of buyers — yes, even Jeep buyers.

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