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HomeClassic CarTest Drive: 2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk | The Daily Drive

Test Drive: 2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk | The Daily Drive


2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk
2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk in Billet Silver (a $495 color option)

2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk 4X4

Class: Compact Crossover

Color: Billet Silver

Miles driven: 473

CG Report Card
Room and Comfort B+
Power and Performance B+
Fit and Finish B+
Fuel Economy B+
Value C
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big Guy B
Tall Guy B
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.
Engine Specs 200-horsepower 2.0-liter
Engine Type Turbocharged 4-cylinder
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Drive Wheels AWD

Observed fuel economy: 26.8 mpg

Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 24/32/27 (mpg city/highway/combined)

Snow Performance: N/A

Base price: $35,745 (not including $1595 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Special paint ($495), Driver Assist Group ($2640), Trailhawk Elite Group $3235, Sun and Sound Group ($2580)

Price as tested: $46,290


Quick Hits

The great: Plenty of power, legit off-road ability

The good: Roomy and comfortably cabin, impressive fuel economy

The not so good: Pricey options, crude powertrain


Tom Appel:

There’s a lot going on in the showrooms of the Stellantis off-road brand these days, and there’s an excellent chance you haven’t heard about much of it. In the past two years, every one of Jeep’s eight models has been touched by at least one significant update, though news to that effect hasn’t been making its way around as completely as it should.

2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk
2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk

Here are just a few of the changes you should know about:

Grand Wagoneer: New “Hurricane” turbocharged V6 replacing V8 power under the hood of this full-size SUV.

Wagoneer: New “Series I” base model considerably lowers the base price of this big rig.

Grand Cherokee: Jeep’s popular midsize SUV loses its V8 this year, and is offered in an expanded number of plug-in hybrid “4Xe” trim levels.

Cherokee: Jeep’s midsize crossover has fallen from public grace, and has been discontinued.

Compass: We’ll get to the Compass in a moment.

Renegade: Jeeps tiny, spunky, crossover comes standard with AWD for 2023, as should all Jeeps. Additionally, the smallest Jeep loses its base Sport trim level this year.

Wrangler and Gladiator: Both of Jeeps serious off-road vehicles have been treated to new grilles, and a host of safety and connectivity updates.

Test Drive: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4Xe

2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk
2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk

As for the Compass, Jeep’s popular compact crossover is treated to an all-new base—and only—engine, and like the Renegade, will only be offered with AWD moving forward. All this after a significant freshening for the 2022 model year. Compass tweaking pauses for 2024, as there are no additional updates planned for the little crossover in the near future.

For 2023, the Compass starts at around $30,000, and is offered in a dizzying array of eight trim levels. Ascending from most affordable to best equipped are the Sport, (roughly $30,000), Latitude ($35,000), Latitude Lux ($35,000), Altitude ($37,000), Limited ($38,000), Trailhawk ($39,000), (Red) ($41,000), and topline High Altitude ($41,000).

Consumer Guide recently spent a week behind the wheel of the 2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk in Billet Silver Metallic and equipped with the Driver Assistance Group. All told, our test car came to $46,290, including destination charge.

The first, and perhaps most significant impression the Compass made on us is that the interior is no longer of rental-car quality. Indeed, the 2022 Compass freshening brought with it a serious cabin upgrade that included plenty of high-end-looking and soft-to-the-touch materials. All told, the passenger area is a classy affair, and makes Compass a better complement to Jeep’s premium offerings further up the model range.

The cabin is roomy, too, surprisingly so given the Compass’s tidy footprint. Front-row space is ample, and the 2nd-row accommodations are adult friendly. And even with the rear seatbacks upright there’s plenty of cargo space.

The Jeep’s Uconnect digital interface is easy to use and requires little familiarization to become comfortable with. The tablet-style touchscreen is easy to read at a glance, even in bright light, and most-used icons fall readily to hand.

As noted earlier, the Compass’s cranky 177-horsepower 2.4-liter “Tigershark” engine has been replaced for 2023. In its place is a turbocharged 2.0-liter mill borrowed from the new Dodge Hornet compact crossover. In the Compass the new engine is rated at 200 horsepower, though in practice that number feels conservative. Also new is a standard 8-speed automatic transmission, replacing a 9-speed auto.

Underway, the Compass feels good. Ride quality is excellent, and handling is subjectively sporty. Cabin noise is an issue, however, as road and wind rush make their way into the passenger area, as does an abundance of engine growl.

Photo Feature: 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk
2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk

Indeed, the new engine, which serves up plenty of launch power, as well as passing and merging muscle, is a crude affair. The 2.0-liter mill is a big improvement over the outgoing 2.4 in terms of performance, but is no smoother or quieter. Additionally, there’s a fair amount of engine quake at idle. Plus, the new 8-speed automatic is given to shifting excessively—and seemingly unnecessarily—at low speeds, and can be rough in operation.

Fuel economy improves for 2023, however. The 2022 AWD Compass powered by the 2.4-liter engine was EPA rated at combined 25 mpg, while the ’23 Compass, powered by the new turbocharged engine is rated a 27 mpg. In Consumer Guide testing we saw almost 27 mpg, which we regard as excellent given the Compass Trailhawk’s power and off-road gear.

About the Trailhawk trim level: In Trailhawk guise, the Compass wears Jeep’s “Trail Rated” badge, which brings with it the understanding that a particular model is especially qualified to head off road. For 2023, the Trailhawk package brings with it Jeep’s Selec-Terrain traction-management system, under-body protecting skid plates, unique springs and dampers, and special wheels and tires. Trailhawk-specific exterior and interior trim are also part of the deal.

While the Editors of Consumer Guide did not evaluate our test car off road, we have had the opportunity to drive a Compass Trailhawk over some very challenging terrain, including fording deep water. We were very impressed by how well this little Jeep handles the rough stuff.

Since 2021, the base price of a Compass has risen $4000 to $30,000, which feels a little steep to us. That said, the upgraded interior, more powerful engine, and standard AWD go a long way towards justifying that kind of money. As for the Trailhawk, our test car came to more than $46,000, which is pretty steep for a compact crossover. Now, if you intend to make use of the Trailhawk off-road hardware, that price starts to make a lot morse sense. The Compass Trailhawk is neither affordable nor refined, but it is quick, space efficient, and very capable in the rough stuff. Be sure to take a long test drive before making a purchase commitment; sometimes the line between sporty and unrefined is pretty thin. And as for all the changes at Jeep, we’d say the Compass came out ahead in the deal.

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2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk
2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk

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2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Gallery

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