Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The 8 Most Impressive Features Found on the 2018 Jeep Compass Latitude

Jeep's Compass is a sleek, capable, and comfortable crossover that can hold its own ground in a competitive field dominated by hot-selling rivals from Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Ford. 

The Compass went through a much-needed complete redesign in 2017 bringing bold styling that mirrors its full-size big brother the Grand Cherokee, available four-wheel-drive, and plenty of goodies standard and optional. Compass arrives in five trims and starts at just under $22,000 for the base Sport model with front-wheel-drive. There's even a Trailhawk version, for more ambitious off-road jaunts thanks to a "4x4 LOW" mode, underbody skid plates, and a raised suspension.

Jeep sent me a fully loaded Compass Latitude to review equipped with four-wheel-drive and close to $10,600 in add-ons like its $795 two-tone paint and black roof and $595 power-opening trunk. The mid-level Latitude trim's $24,395 base price includes a backup camera, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry and push-button start, Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and music, and a smaller version of Jeep's fantastic Uconnect system.
Under the hood is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 180 horsepower. It's cool to note that four-wheel-drive is available on the Compass at no extra charge, and, that Jeep makes it possible to recruit a six-speed manual transmission to work with Compass models that have four-wheel-drive. That combination is a rare, appreciated treat in today's new car world. Here are eight of the best, most intuitive and impressive features found on the 2018 Compass latitude:

  1. Heated steering wheel
    Grouped in with the optional $745 Cold Weather Group package that brings heated seats, the leather-wrapped steering wheel in the Compass Latitude gets nice and toasty hot by tapping an icon on the touch-screen Uconnect system. This is a perfect must-have after a long day of hiking around out in the cold.
  2. Automatic high beam control
    The Compass Latitude offers superb, super-bright Bi-Xenon headlamps that illuminate the road tremendously and high beam headlights that automatically detect an oncoming car's headlights and quickly switch down to low beams.  Both are part of the optional $895 Advanced Safety & Lighting Group package.
  3. Blind-spot monitoring system
    Becoming the norm on just about all new vehicles on sale in the U.S., blind-spot monitoring (BSM) utilizes  sensors in the Compass Latitude's side mirrors and will display a glowing alert in the mirror if there's a car in your side blind spots, an active safety system that reliably works and makes lane changing safer. BSM, rear parking sensors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers are all part of the optional $795 Safety and Security Group package.
  4. 18-inch wheels with polished black accents
    Complimenting the Compass Latitude's attractive, eye-catching and not-dorky appearance are a set of optional 18-inch aluminum wheels with contrasting black pockets that are wrapped in 225/55R18 all-season tires. Expect to dish out close to $1,000 for these special shoes but in my opinion, it's so worth it.
  5. Dual-pane sunroof
    I personally can't buy a car without a sunroof, and while $1,495 may be a steep number to climb over, the available dual-pane sunroof is massive, stretching almost the entire roof of the Compass Latitude, making this smaller crossover seem even more spacious inside. If anything, opt for this over the wheels if you're having trouble deciding. 
  6. Remote start
    Not uncommon, but my Compass Latitude had remote start, part of the $1,195 Popular Equipment Group package that brings an 8-way power-adjustable driver seat with adjustable lumbar support and a rear seat 115-volt household outlet, perfect for charging the battery on my mirrorless Sony A600. The best surprise? When I clicked the remote start button the Jeep's keyfob before heading to work on a chilly, late-fall Wisconsin morning, both my heated seat and steering wheel turned on with it. Bliss.
  7. Live weather radar
    The Uconnect system, found in nearly every member of the FCA family (Fiat, Chrysler Automotive) is easily the best multimedia system in the industry, hands-down. It's responsive, reliable, easy-to-use, and...there's a bank of actual buttons below that control just about everything you'd tap on the screen. Apart from accessing and changing the navigation system (optional on the Latitude), climate control and music, there are multiple apps that make road trips great, like real-time weather updates and a  map with radar. Dig deeper into this app and there's even a glossary depicting what each front looks like and means. Sure, this may be a minuscule thing to appreciate, but this is a feature I'd use constantly to monitor conditions when driving to the campsite, trailhead, or boat launch to put my kayak in. 
  8. Selec-Terrain Management system
    Standard on all models with four-wheel-drive, a knob in front of the gearshifter allows the driver to specifically tune the Compass' 4x4 system for snowy, rocky, muddy, and sandy treks. The Compass' 4x4 system is really more of a traditional all-wheel-drive setup, always sending different levels power to the front and rear wheels as needed. Depending on the conditions it sometimes may send 80 % of the power to the front and 20% rear, or 70% to front and 30% to he rear, etc. Should you enter into a scenario where you might get really stuck, a "4WD LOCK" button that can be pressed to lock the center differential, sending full, equal 50/50 power to both the front and rear wheels.
Read my full test of the 2018 Jeep Compass Latitude here.


[Disclaimer: Jeep provided this new vehicle and a full tank of gas for the purpose of this review.]