Jeep Compass Trailhawk is comfortable and affordable crossover

CC Jeep Compass
CC Jeep Compass

The Compass Trailhawk, the smaller sibling to the Cherokee off-roader, is one of the coolest-looking compact SUVs on the market. Compared to the previous generation Jeep Compass, this 2018 iteration is vastly improved.

Grant Miller, Publisher

The Compass occupies an interesting spot in Jeep’s lineup. It is smaller and more affordable than Jeep’s Cherokee crossover SUV but bigger and more capable than the Renegade.

Most Compasses will be purchased with front-wheel drive, but it wouldn’t be a Jeep unless it could handle off-road trails. And while most owners will never need the off-roading hardware available on the Trailhawk trim, it is nice to know it is there if you want to do some overlanding or just get down a muddy road.

So what’s new? Well, coming off last year’s redesign, the 2018 Jeep Compass is pretty much unchanged.

The 2018 Compass is available in four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited, and my test car, the Trailhawk. All come with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, but my Trailhawk came with a nine-speed (AWD) automatic transmission.

If you are into off-roading, I recommend you get the Trailhawk. Its all-wheel drive and suspension calibration help the Compass punch above its weight.

Though the Trailhawk sits below the Limited in price, it differs greatly in function and features. It rides on 17-inch wheels with off-road-oriented tires, a raised suspension, and a unique front fascia to maximize approach and breakover angles.

Other popular options, that were featured on my Trailhawk included the Advanced Safety and Lighting Group, which included advanced brake assist and lane-departure warning; the Safety & Security Group, which offers rear park assist and blind-spot detection; the Navigation Group with GPS and Uconnect; as well as some really nice power seat features and a power liftgate.

Heading out, I immediately noticed that Jeep has improved dramatically the way the new Compass drives, with car-like steering and brake inputs. It also has enough chassis stiffness and suspension control to handle curves and off-roading. They say the ride on this Trailhawk model is a bit stiff over small bumps, but I found it to soak up the large ones fairly well. Combined with the small size, it makes it very easy to maneuver around town.

Comfort-wise, the Compass has a substantial feel to it, and that’s a good thing. The seat cushions are firm, but there’s plenty of head- and leg-room.

The interior looks and feels premium, with a leather-trimmed steering wheel and ambient lighting and comfy leather seats — my Trailhawk had a really attractive black and ruby red interior.

I found driver controls to be well arranged and easily accessible. The seat height is perfect, giving you a good view forward and of the corners of the Compass and the doors open wide and have large openings. The 60/40-split rear seats fold down nearly flat, and the armrest bin and glovebox are well sized.

In the technology department, three versions of Uconnect are available; my experience was with the largest — 8.4-inch system with optional navigation. The graphics are crisp and the touchscreen is responsive.

Overall, if youare looking for an attractive vehicle that gives you off road capability, comfortable ride, decent performance, high-tech interior with essentially any upgrade option you could think of, this is a great car. And it’s affordable, too: my Trailhawk with the several option groups came in at $34,705. EPA fuel economy rating is 22 city/30 highway.

Grant Miller is the publisher of Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277 or via email at

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