Adventure seekers will want to take a look at the 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk. It’s a less expensive way to get something with the more expensive looks of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, plus it comes trail-ready with lots of off-road capability. Jeep says the Compass Trailhawk has 30-degree approach, 24-degree breaker, and 34-degree departure angles. It even has the ability to ford up to 19 inches of water without drowning.
This week, we drove the 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk 4X4.
What’s New For 2017 & 2018
The Jeep Compass was all-new for 2017. The vehicle’s redesign included new powertrains and transmissions, updates to the Uconnect system, and the use of FCA’s “small wide 4×4 architecture.” 2018 Jeep Compass Limited models now offer a 4×2 driveline configuration.
Features & Options
The 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk 4X4 ($28,595) comes standard with foglights, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a tilt/telscoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, USB port and auxiliary audio jack. It also comes with push button start, rear backup camera, and power outside mirrors. It comes fitted with an off-road suspension, rear tow hooks, Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system, and front and rear skid plates for better off-road performance.
This tester came with options like the Cold Weather Group ($645), complete with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel; Lighting Group ($895), Safety Group ($795), Navigation ($895), power 8-way driver’s seat ($645), and power liftgate ($495). Total MSRP including destination: $34,060.
The front seats are comfortable and adequately supportive for longer drives into the high country for weekend excursions. The contrasting back/red leather interior combo looked good on our Compass tester. There’s enough room up front for taller adults, but rear legroom is tight for this class, although perfect for kids. In terms of infotainment, the 8.4-inch Uconnect interface found in most Jeep and other FCA models is user-friendly.
This Compass Trailhawk came with cold-weather extras like heated seats, heated steering wheel, and windshield de-icer to keep things clear for those winter trips. With the sloped cabin design, visibility is fairly good in all directions and the rear park assist feature, rear view camera, and blind spot alerts are definitely helpful.
You’ll find enough cargo space in the back for carrying a big cooler, sleeping bags, and other camping gear with the rear seats up. The 27.2 cubic feet of cargo room is more horizontal, so you won’t block the rear window. It’s dog-friendly too, if you want to take your four-legged friends along.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The Jeep Compass Trailhawk is powered by a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder Tigershark engine that pumps out 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft. of torque. This off-road model comes with a 9-speed automatic transmission. It works in concert with the vehicle’s Active Drive Low 4X4 system (20:1 crawl ratio) and Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system. The Selec-Terrain modes include Snow, Sand, Mud, and exclusive to the Trailhawk, a Rock mode. The Compass Trailhawk has an EPA-estimated fuel mileage rating of 22/30 city/highway and 25 combined mpg.
All of our driving in the Jeep Compass Trailhawk was done at altitude, so factor that in if you live below 5,280 feet. In fact, most our driving was done between 6,500 and 8,500 feet. The Trailhawk is good for commuting in nasty weather and has the ability to get you out of sticky situations when winter strikes. The Trailhawk also comes with Hill-Descent Control and 17-inch Falken all-terrain tires.
In the city, the shorter wheelbase makes for easy maneuvering on tight streets and when parking. The safety aids helped keep us from any mishaps. Even with the Trailhawak’s off-road suspension, it offers a relatively smooth ride on the highway, thanks to its more aerodynamic shape.
We took it up a twisting canyon road west of Denver and felt confident in the vehicle’s ability to remain fairly composed at the posted speed limit. There seemed to be enough power, but we were not carrying cargo or gear. Coming up I-70, we found the 2.4-liter powerplant lacking as we tried to pass slower traffic. We pushed hard on the gas and it took time to build up speed.
The 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk 4X4 is designed for adventure seekers who want to get away and enjoy the outdoors. And if you don’t load up on all the available options, it’s a less expensive way to have your cake and eat it too. Overall, the Trailhawk’s best attributes are used off-road where it will take you just about anywhere you want to go.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy