Under the Hood

All Compasses are powered by a 172-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine equipped with variable valve timing for adequate pull at all engine speeds. It powers the front wheels through a five-speed-manual transmission. Four-wheel drive is optional; in line with the Jeep parlance, it's presented as 4x4, but the system is basically a light- to medium-duty all-wheel-drive system. It has a lock function that splits power 50/50 between the front and rear axles, but there's no additional low gear for true off-roading. Traction is aided by antilock-brake-based traction control. The ABS, traction control and an electronic stability system are all standard.

The optional automatic transmission comes in the form of an efficient CVT, continuously variable transaxle. It grants a wide range of gear ratios, but without the stepped shift feel of a conventional automatic. Even so, the AutoStick manual-shift mode — an option on the Limited — jumps sequentially from one arbitrarily preset ratio to another.

The Compass is Jeep's first model with four-wheel independent suspension. The other models retain the solid rear axle that offers advantages in some offroad situations. Still, Jeep emphasizes the Compass' 8-inch ground clearance and decent approach and departure angles.

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