CHATHAM, Mass – A lot of compact SUVs are being dressed up as adventure vehicles, whereas Jeep ensures its Compass Trailhawk is truly off-road capable by certifying it as Trail Rated®.
Achieving this certification means the 2023 Compass Trailhawk 4X4 I spent a spring week driving succeeded against a series of tests in five categories: traction, water fording, manueverability, articulation and ground clearance.
The Trailhawk has 8.6-inches of ground clearance; can for through up to 19 inches of water; has a 30-degree approach angle, 24-degree breakover angle and 34-degree departure angle; 215/65R17 on/off-road Falken WildPeak H/T tires; skid plates; 20:1 crawl ratio, and up to a 2,000-pound towing capacity (thanks to the trailer tow group, a $925 option).
These qualities enhance the five-passenger compact sport utility’s ability to travel where the pavement might end, but they do not encroach on the vehicle’s on-road manners. This, in terms of my tester, is a well-appointed, comfortable SUV regardless of your choice of terrain.
The capable underpinnings – powertrain and platform
Continuing with the discussion of the Trailhawk 4X4 underpinnings begins with what is under the hood. Jeep stuffs a 2-liter, turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine producing 200 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque.
The engine gets the job done without drama, though a bit noisily. Its performance is up to speed for everyday activities, enabling smooth highway transitions and never leading me to think I could not make any maneuver I wanted to do.
The power flows through an eight-speed automatic transmission on its way to the standard automatic full-time four-wheel Jeep Active Drive Low system. The powertrain can be tailored through the four modes of Selec-Terrain for the best four-wheel-drive performance in any weather condition (Auto, Snow, Sand/Mud and Rock mode).
Where the powertrain also performs well is in moving past filling stations. The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates the 2023 Jeep Trailhawk 4X4 at 24 miles per gallon in urban driving, 34 on the highway and 27 overall. I put a fair amount of mixed miles on the bright white (actual Jeep color) Compass, with my usual heavy foot and disdain for stretching the gas and saw 29+ mpg during my week.
Considering how I drive, I thought this was an excellent performance for a vehicle designed for carrying five people, their outdoor stuff and navigating off-road terrain – not the usual parameters for a high-mileage machine.
The suspension features MacPherson-type struts, coil springs, flat front steel crossmember and high-strength steel double shell lower control stabilizer bar up front and Chapman strut, high-strength steel links, isolated steel rear cradle, coil springs and stabilizer bar in the rear.
The power-assisted, anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic-stability control (ESC) has 12-inch vented rotors and single-piston floating calipers up front and 10.95-inch solid rotors with single-piston floating calipers in the rear.
ADAS roster impressive
The standard package of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) includes active lane management; adaptive cruise control with stop and go; blind-spot monitoring; full-speed forward collision warning with active braking; pedestrian and cyclist automatic emergency braking; rear cross-path detection system; ParkSense rear-park assist sensors, and ParkView rear backup camera.
The test vehicle had the Driver Assist Group (optional, $2,640) with ParkSense front/rear park-assist system; parallel and perpendicular park/unpark assist; highway assist system; traffic-sign recognition; 360º surround view camera; universal garage-door opener, and mobile-device wireless charging pad.
Premium amenities inside this adventure machine
The Compass Trailhawk I sampled included the Trailhawk Elite Group (option, $3,235) which added a lot of comfort and convenience features starting with leather trimmed (heated, ventilated, eight-way power-adjustable, power lumbar support up front) seats, heated steering wheel; driver-seat memory; 10.25-inch color driver instrument cluster; remote start system; power foot-activated liftgate, and a full suite of premium LED exterior lighting.
The Uconnect 5 infotainment system with navigation comes with the Elite Group as well. This includes a 10.1-inch touch screen; built-in Amazon Alexa; integrated voice command; SiriusXM satellite radio, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone capability.
My Trailhawk also had the Sun and Sound Group ($2,580) which starts with a nine-speaker, including subwoofer, Alpine premium audio system and is completed with a panoramic sunroof.
Ready to roll wherever you want to go
The 2023 Jeep Trailhawk 4X4 packs a lot of capability within the compact’s dimensions (173.4-inches long, 80-inches wide and 65.8-inches high) take you where you want to go – on road, off road, regardless of the weather.
The Trail Rated certification means it has been tested to tackle a variety of challenging terrains and talking to other members of the media who have been able to try it in such a manner, it delivers the goods.
And it does it for a segment-competitive, as-tested price of $46,720 which includes the options mentioned above and the $1,595 destination charge. The model has a MSRP of $35,745, so you can build it to meet your needs as well as pocketbook.
Regardless of how you configure your Jeep Compass Trailhawk 4X4, you will have one capable vehicle worthy of the Jeep name.