2023 Jeep Compass Altitude Review

Big improvement.

By Kunal Dsouza Wheels.ca

Aug 14, 2023 4 min. read

Article was updated a month ago

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When you think of the Jeep brand it’s probably not the Compass that comes to mind. This compact car-based crossover might have the familiar Jeep grille but it’s a far cry from the mud-slinging Wrangler that turned the brand into a worldwide cultural icon.

Jeep may be cashing in on the Wrangler’s reputation but in this age, compact crossovers are what consumers want, and adding a dose of off-road character to what is otherwise a humble commuter can do wonders on the sales floor.

For 2023 the Compass gets some noteworthy upgrades. The first and most important one is a new 2-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a new 8-speed automatic. With 200 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque the Compass’ newfound power is exactly what it needed.

2023 Jeep Compass Altitude

All Compass trims also include Jeep Active 4x4, an on-demand system that can fully decouple the rear axle for fuel efficiency. Trailhawk models are Trail-rated meaning they can handle more off-road abuse than 99 per cent of customers would ever subject one to.

The 2023 Compass also bundles more safety and driver assistance features into all models including drowsy driver alert and a rear seat reminder alert. Active blind-spot monitoring, active lane management, and full-speed forward collision warning with active braking are also standard fare.

I admit that the Compass wasn’t exactly high on my list of cars that I wanted to drive in 2023. My last experience with one left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth but approaching with lower expectations might just be a good thing in this case.

2023 Jeep Compass Altitude

My red Altitude tester looked pretty good and wears its slotted Jeep grille well but some angles, like the rear three-quarter view, aren’t as flattering. It’s also on the smaller end of the scale in its class. Look at the spacious Honda CR-V and the Compass feels at least a full size smaller. Its tough-looking exterior, however, does up the coolness factor and image does well to move cars on the sales floor.

This time, driving the Compass was a pleasant surprise. The new motor is punchy and imbues it with a spunky and playful attitude that wasn’t there before. The 8-speed automatic dishes out quick gear changes and is a marked improvement over the outgoing 9-speed unit.

Turn the steering wheel and there’s more good news. The Compass, thanks to its small size is light on its feet and eager in the corners. With the new engine and transmission, you can even call it fun-to-drive. A Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 feel like more sensible choices but for the lifestyle crowd the Compass makes sense.

2023 Jeep Compass Altitude

The Altitude trim falls in the middle of the Compass lineup and adds navigation, leather, a power driver’s seat, nicer 18-inch wheels, and more for about $6000 over a base model.

The Compass isn’t cheap starting at $38,695, which is more expensive than a CR-V or RAV4, but it lines up well with a Bronco Sport and I can see that being its main rival.

The Jeep is certainly nicer inside than the Bronco, and the Uconnect infotainment is one of the better systems out there with sharp graphics, snappy response times, and an easy-to-use interface. The digital gauge cluster is another nice touch here and general material quality and fit and finish are also quite good. Passenger and cargo space aren’t class-leading but still fine in this class, however, the back seats are probably a better space for kids.

2023 Jeep Compass Altitude

If you opt for the more expensive Trailhawk trim ($45,190), you get more ground clearance, a better 4x4 system with a 20:1 crawl ratio and rock mode, and skid plates to protect the underbody. The little Compass Trailhawk can also ford up to 19-inches of water and gets “Trail Rated” badges on its fenders to prove it. While that’s likely more off-road cred than anyone buying a Compass needs, it’s nice to know that a logging trail or unpaved cottage road will pose no issue.

It’s shocking how much of a difference a new engine, transmission, and some tuning can make to the overall driving demeanour of a car. In the Compass’ case, it takes it from a near fail in my books to a vehicle that I would happily recommend to those that want a bit of adventure in their commuter crossover.

2023 Jeep Compass Altitude 4X4

BODY STYLE: 5 passenger, 5 door compact crossover

CONFIGURATION: Front-engine, all-wheel drive

ENGINE: 2.0-L turbocharged inline-4; Power: 200 hp @5000 rpm; 221 lb-ft @1750-4250 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic

FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium Gasoline in L/100 km): 9.9 city; 7.4 highway; 8.8 combined

CARGO CAPACITY: 770-1693 litres

PRICE: $ 42,395 (base); $48,775 (as-tested)

WEBSITE: Jeep Canada


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