Motor Trend’s 2023 Jeep Compass First Drive Brings Glowing Review

Posted at Fri, Mar 3, 2023 7:30 PM

Last year’s Jeep Compass updates offered more safety features, while also sprucing up the interior. This year’s model still is situated directly above the Renegade and below the Cherokee, and picks up a power boost thanks to better suspension tuning and a brand-new turbo engine. The 177-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine was standard across the lineup last year and has now been given the 2.0-liter inline-four from the Cherokee and Wrangler models. This boosts output by 23 horsepower and a robust 49 lb-ft of torque. The all-important peak torque amount is now at 1,750 rpm instead of 3,900 rpm, with the brand-new 8-speed automatic transmission providing a smooth ride. 

This transmission hasn’t made its appearance yet in any other Jeep model, and the Motor Trend team excitedly lurched forward to embark on their test drive through the beckoning and beautiful Malibu canyons. With a great amount of torque poised and ready in the lower rev range and the fresh transmission, the delivery of power and acceleration work in your favor quicker, providing instant satisfaction.

An excellent improvement in fuel economy is also a part of the package, with an all-wheel drive version EPA-estimated to deliver a valuable extra 2 more mpg. Every 2023 Compass comes standard with AWD, and completely re-tuned springs have successfully infused a much sportier and more competent ride. Frequency selective dampers and a reworked steering rack both pitch in to provide a sturdier stance during acceleration and braking. The High Altitude and Latitude versions are the upper-level trims that provide a more comfortable ride, with vibration and other noise removed nicely from the equation.  

As the testing group took the Trailhawk model further off the beaten path down steep grades and rocky trails, the additional ground clearance and improved breakover approach emulated segment-leading capability during each mile. Here it was noted that the better engine and transmission were “always waiting with a premonition” to be perfectly added to the 2023 Compass’s arsenal of style and skill. After last year’s introduction of more modern tech features and a classier dashboard, there is an air of refinement and payoff for ingenious engineering. 

Newly added standard features include drowsy driver detection, a rear seat reminder alert, and a security alarm. Drivers familiar with everything from river fording to daily drives are saying this is an SUV that handles confidently like a compact car on the pavement, and it will never let you down when its time to set your sights on the nearest national park! 

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