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One of two compact SUVs from Jeep, the Compass was originally derided as too soft for the Jeep brand, both in styling and philosophy, being a car-based design built on a front-wheel-drive platform. With boxier, more traditional Jeep styling, the related Patriot was more popular until the Compass was restyled in 2011 to resemble the Grand Cherokee.
For 2014 the upgrades continue, primarily in the form of powertrain changes along with cosmetic tweaks both outside and inside. The Compass competes with the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester and many others in the crowded compact SUV/crossover class.
Compass trim levels include Sport, Latitude and Limited.
Just a few model years past its substantial restyling, the Compass is mostly the same, but astute observers will see some cosmetic tweaks on the 2014, such as new grille colors and textures and new bezel treatments around the headlights, fog lights and taillights.
The grille on Latitude and Limited trim levels now has plated upper trim and Billet Silver grille texture. The Sport and Latitude levels now have a black inner headlamp bezel. The Limited adds chrome fog lamp bezels. Painted side mirror caps are standard, and the taillights have a "smoked" inner bezel.
Wheel sizes range from 16 to 18 inches.
The 2014's upgraded interior adds chrome accents, a vinyl-wrapped center armrest and updated instrument panel graphics. The Latitude trim level has new accent-stitched mesh-and-vinyl seats and the Limited offers Saddle Brown perforated leather seats. These steps represent Jeep's gradual efforts to make the Compass competitive against more richly appointed models, many of which have been fully redesigned in recent years.
In a similar bid for parity, Jeep says it has addressed noise complaints with more noise-abatement treatments, including an acoustic windshield.
Standard features include air conditioning; power windows, locks and side mirrors; keyless entry; fog lamps; cruise control; illuminated cupholders; a removable, rechargeable flashlight; and Uconnect media center with iPod interface.
Options include SiriusXM Radio, a navigation system, power sunroof, a Boston Acoustics premium audio system, illuminated cupholders and liftgate speakers.
The 2014 Compass offers two four-cylinder engines: a 158-horsepower 2.0-liter or a 172-hp 2.4-liter. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the Compass Sport, and a continuously variable automatic remains paired with the larger engine in Compasses with Freedom-Drive II and the Off-Road Package. The big news for 2014 is the addition of a 6-speed automatic transmission, which is sure to be the most popular equipment. It replaces the earlier model's only automatic, a CVT. EPA mileage ratings aren't available as of this writing, but Jeep says there should be no sacrifice in mileage for the six-speed. The manual will deliver up to 30 mpg on the highway, Jeep says.
The Compass comes with front- or all-wheel drive on any trim level. The more modest Freedom-Drive I all-wheel-drive system, which is designed for foul weather and light off-roading, teams with the six-speed automatic. Freedom-Drive II is designed for true off-road use. The CVT sticks around for this usage because its broad range of gear ratios gives Final-Drive II a final drive ratio of up to 8.14 - much more off-road-capable than the 3.37 ratio you get with the six-speed Freedom-Drive I and 2.4-liter engine (or 3.65 with the 2.0-liter).
Standard safety features include the federally mandated antilock brakes and electronic stability system. There are frontal and side curtain airbags, and the front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags that had been optional are now standard. The front seats have active head restraints. A backup camera is now available as an option.