Buyers like two things best about the Jeep Compass. First, by ticking the right boxes it comes with real off-road ability, a rarity among compact crossovers. Second, it looks like a miniature Grand Cherokee. What do they like least? Its plasticky, cheap-seeming cabin and unrefined, low-tech feel.
Jeep has been paying attention, and the refreshed 2022 Compass, unveiled today at the Chicago Auto Show brings a vastly improved interior, subtle tweaks to its muscular visage and some desirable new tech features.
The second-generation Compass was introduced for model year 2018, and its new looks quickly banished memories of its dated predecessor. Sales more than doubled, to 171,167 that year according to Motor Intelligence data. But sales fell to 107,969 units in 2020 as both the Compass and its larger sister, the Cherokee, experienced some of the biggest sales drops in the mostly resilient compact crossover segment amid the fallout from Covid-19.
While the pandemic is to blame for much of the drop, the Compass’ flaws were highlighted by newer or updated competitors like the Kia Seltos and Mazda CX-30, and its off-road uniqueness is now challenged by the Ford Bronco Sport.
The Compass’ new updates should go a long way to making it more competitive, although they don’t include any updates to the crossover’s pokey powertrain.
We’ve had a basic idea of what the updated model would look like for some time, as the 2022 Compass was first revealed in China last fall. There, and in Europe, Jeep offers a plug-in hybrid Compass 4xe, but Jeep hasn’t announced whether or when that model will come stateside.
The existing 2.4-liter, 177-horsepower “Tigershark” four-cylinder engine will remain the Compass’ lone engine, at least for now. As with the engine, the front-drive Compass’ six-speed and the four-wheel drive’s nine-speed automatic transmissions will remain unchanged. The 3,633-pound Compass Trailhawk is, unsurprisingly, better known for traversing trails than scorching 0 to 60 times, but that’s what it’s built for.
The big news is the Compass’ updated cabin, but many of the best bits of the Compass get a little bit better with the refresh. The exterior gets only modest changes, but the painted lower sections and fender flares, previously black plastic, and the new grille mesh make the 2022 Compass look a bit like the outgoing, high-performance 2021 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk from afar.
Inside the 2022 Jeep Compass
“We really listened to feedback from our customers, and their wants and needs included improving storage and the overall look and feel of the interior,” said Winnie Cheung, interior chief designer at Jeep in a video released by the company.
Cheung refers to it as a “pure and premium” cabin. Although we haven’t touched the materials, it looks the part, and quite unlike any previous Jeep crossover. A strongly horizontal dashboard features a wrapped mid-panel surrounded by slender metal trim below. The dash top appears to float above, separated from the mid-panel by an equally slender chrome line that integrates the side vents.
Even the door panels have been changed. “Some pieces, like the 360-degree door handles, are inspired by the Wrangler, which creates this nice family look,” Cheung added. Family details aside, the Compass looks distinctly more upscale than any Wrangler and it’s a welcome change.
A redesigned console offers twice as much storage space, but also looks far more sophisticated, replacing a plasticky unit that would have looked at home in a 1990s RAV4. A wireless charging pad is newly optional and sits ahead of the gearshift. Rear passengers get a redesigned climate control vent and USB ports (USB-A standard, USB-C optional), and for the first time heated rear seats are optional, part of the Elite and Trailhawk packages, pricing for which is still to come.
Up front, the lower half of the center stack houses physical climate controls, while the top is dominated by a glossy black infotainment screen. Sport and Latitude models will get an 8.4-inch unit within the housing, while the upper trims get a 10.1-inch unit. The screens run Stellantis’ Uconnect 5 interface with standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Amazon Alexa. Cheung says the interface is five times faster than previous versions.
Drivers also get new digital displays. A small-ish 3.5-inch unit is fitted to Sport and Latitude models, while higher trims get a 7.5-inch unit, optional on the Latitude. An impressive 10.25-inch display with two dozen customizable readouts is optional, another component of the Elite and Trailhawk gear.
Those displays can show off some of the active safety systems, many more of which are standard. That includes active lane management and lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection. Some of these systems are optional, or even not offered, on certain Compass competitors.
Adaptive cruise control, already an option in 2021, will be joined later this year by Highway Assist, a semi-autonomous mode similar to the new Grand Cherokee L’s Active Drive Assist. Though it requires hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, the system uses geofencing to enable seamless operation on designated highways a-la GM’s Super Cruise.
On the mechanical side, Jeep says revised suspension tuning and a modified steering gear make for a smoother ride and more responsive handling.
The off-road gear, including Jeep’s Active Drive and Active Drive Low systems, with the ability to disconnect the rear axle for fuel savings, are largely unchanged. As are the abilities of the Trailhawk model, though it gets new graphics and wheels.
2022 Jeep Compass Trims and Prices
The 2022 Compass lineup will be streamlined down to five models, Sport, Latitude, Latitude LUX, Trailhawk, and Limited. Jeep has a penchant for issuing mid-year special editions, so that may change, but the upgrades for the new model year don’t come at too steep a price.
The base model Sport, in front-wheel drive form, ringing in at $26,490 including a $1,495 destination fee, up $500 from last year’s base price. The Latitude starts at $28,020 including destination and adds 17-inch wheels (the Sport rides 16-inchers) and the ability to order options like adaptive cruise. On both of these models, four-wheel drive is a $1,500 upgrade.
The Latitude LUX ($31,090) will be new for 2022 and gets even further upgraded 18-inch wheels, the 10.1-inch infotainment unit, leather heated front seats with a power seat for the driver and extras like a remote starter. It also makes available options like a hands-free tailgate, panoramic sunroof and a second row USB-C port.
The Trailhawk ($32,890) adds the Active Drive Low 4×4 system and lots of other off-road gear as before, including a factory 1-inch lift, steel skid plates and red tow hooks. The Limited carries the same MSRP as the Trailhawk but aims for a more luxurious experience. Both offer the heated rear seats, a rarity in the class, and plenty of optional amenities, some of which will depend on buyers selecting the High Altitude package, the exact pricing of which is still to be announced.
More interior colors are available on the Limited, which showcases a black and steel gray color scheme wrapped in “Sepia accents,” which is to say light brown trim. It’s a good look, and appears to compare well with multi-hued interiors in the Seltos and Mazda CX-30.
The Compass’ interior and tech makeover come as the compact crossover market grows even more crowded with the recent arrival of the Volkswagen Taos and the upcoming debut of Toyota’s Corolla Cross. The 2022 Compass arrives at dealerships this fall, and it’s in a much better position to deliver on those mini-me Grand Cherokee looks with a more upscale experience.