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2007 Jeep Compass

Joe Loriowriters

The Compass is one of a pair of new, entry-level Jeeps that arrived at dealers in the fall of 2006. The Compass was shown, along with its companion model, the Patriot, in lightly disguised concept form at the 2005 Frankfurt auto show. Now we see the real thing. The Compass is built on the platform of the new Dodge Caliber (as is the Patriot), which means unibody construction, four-cylinder power, and front-wheel drive with four-wheel drive optional. Jeep points to the 2002 Compass concept as an influence, but we see more of the Infiniti QX56--not a good thing. Whatever the source of the design, Jeep claims that it appeals most to women and non-Jeep owners, whereas the Patriot resonates with men and Jeep people.

The Compass's 172-horsepower 2.4-liter four has intake and exhaust valve variable timing, and it comes from a joint venture including DaimlerChrysler, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai. Five-speed manual and continuously-variable automatic transmissions are available. When equipped with all-wheel drive, the Compass has a lock mode for the center differential, but it will not be Trail Rated. ABS, stability control, traction control, panic brake assist, and side curtain air bags highlight a comprehensive list of standard safety equipment. Seat-mounted side air bags, heated leather seats, a fancy stereo that can blast out of the open rear hatch, and Bluetooth phone connectivity are optional. Pricing will start in the high teens.