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This Jeep was never aimed at off-road drivers

2007 Jeep Compass Credit: Chrysler

In 2007, there were six different nameplates in the Jeep stable and, within that group, there were numerous drivetrain permutations, engine variations and equipment level spin-offs. One thing they all shared, however, was a 4WD system of some kind.

The new-for-2007 Compass, however, didn't follow the same trail as its stable-mates. It was categorized as a crossover vehicle and was based on the same platform as the front-drive Dodge Caliber. If you were looking for a down-and-dirty stump-jumper or bog-wallower, some of Jeep's other models, like the Liberty or Wrangler, may have been more appropriate. The Compass was not aimed at hard-core off-road enthusiasts.

Not that it didn't have a 4WD system; you could order a locking centre coupling that distributes engine power evenly between the front and rear driving wheels, as well as an "active" full-time AWD system the company called Freedom Drive 1. For moderate off-road duty, it was adequate, but your typical Compass buyer was, and is, a horse of a different colour compared to your average Wrangler or Grand Cherokee customer.

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The Compass came in three variations in 2007: Sport, North and Limited. Power was delivered by either a 2.0-litre four-cylinder or the so-called 2.4-litre "World Engine," which was also utilized by Mitsubishi and Hyundai, that displaced 2.4 litres and developed some 172 horsepower. You could choose from either a constantly variable transmission or a five-speed manual. The 2.4-litre engine had 14 more horsepower and 24 more lb-ft of torque than the base 2.0-litre unit and was the only choice with the top-of-the-line Limited model. All things considered, it's the wiser choice.

Inside, with the back seat folded down flat, you got 1,518 litres of total cargo space, and standard equipment with the Limited included leather seats, keyless entry, air conditioning, heated front seats, one-touch driver's power window and fog lamps.

Safety features came in the form of four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, front and rear passenger side curtain airbags and an electronic stability program. This latter feature applied the ABS if the on-board computer sensed vehicle over-steer or under-steer during certain driving conditions. It keyed off the vehicle's lateral acceleration, steering wheel sensor and yaw (side to side motion) rate. You could also order larger 18-inch wheels and tires, as well as the upgraded 4WD system, which added $1,300 to the price tag.

Four safety recalls are on file with Transport Canada. Two are fairly minor and involve possibly wonky headlights and an owners manual oversight that doesn't contain enough information about the greater rollover potential of this type of vehicle.

The other two, however, are a little more ominous. One has to do with a possibly flawed parking brake and rear wheel mounting hubs that could let go and cause the vehicle to run away on itself, and the other involves the ABS system, which could lock up and cause all kinds of chaos. This affliction is shared by many other Chrysler models of this vintage.

Although things do improve slightly in 2008, the 2007 iteration of the Compass doesn't exactly get top marks from Consumer Reports. It receives a below-average used-car prediction from this organization, with the drivetrain, suspension and paint/trim coming in for particularly harsh criticism. The magazine says, "the 2.4-litre, four-cylinder engine is rough and noisy" to which I can only add that this description could apply to the interior as well. Interestingly, owner feedback with this organization is mixed. Some comments: "Best AWD in snow, better than Subaru," "needs a bigger gas tank" and "cup holders too low in front".

Nor is market research company J.D. Power any kinder. It also gives the '07 Compass a below-average vehicle dependability ratingand virtually every area of this vehicle has some sort of issue as far as it's concerned. About the only bright spot with this organization is the features accessories mechanical quality.

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There seems to be quite a difference of opinion regarding the resale value of a 2007 Compass. The Canadian Red Book has the base front-drive version worth just over $9,000, while the Black Book pegs the 4x4 at over $15,000 to start. One thing to keep in mind with the 4x4 model is that, crossover designation notwithstanding, it may have seen off-road duty.


2007 Jeep Compass

Original Base Price: $24,355; Black Book Value: $15,275-$16,725; Red Book Value: $9400 - $14,025

Engine: 2.0- and 2.4-litre four-cylinder

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Horsepower/Torque: 158 hp/141 lb-ft for 2.0-litre

  • 172 hp/165 lb-ft for 2.4-litre

Transmission: CVT/Five-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel-drive/4WD

Fuel Economy (litres per 100 km): 9.9 city/8.2 highway (2.4-litre 4WD with CVT); regular gas

Alternatives: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Mazda Tribute, Chevrolet Equinox, Saturn Vue, Kia Rondo, Jeep Patriot, Nissan X-Trail, Hyundai Tucson, Suzuki Grand Vitara

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