Road test: Compass makeover falls short
The many welcome changes to the Jeep Compass for 2011 do not, unfortunately, include the one it needed the most: a quieter drivetrain. That's too bad because except for the diesel-like racket of its engine, which is exacerbated by the transmission, this is an attractive compact four-by-four that rides well, handles capably enough and has what Consumer Reports deems to be average reliability, based on owner experiences.
First introduced in 2007, the Compass shares its basics with the Dodge Caliber, and it begins with front-wheel drive at just under $20,000 with a 2.0-liter, 158-hp. engine and a stick shift. The version I sampled -- and am griping about -- had the 2.4-liter, 172-hp., four-cylinder engine that is in most versions, coupled with the most popular transmission -- a continuously variable, or stepless, automatic and four-wheel drive.
If you can drive a stick -- and are willing to live with one -- you might be happier than I was behind the wheel of a Compass. If there's a Chrysler dealership with which you'd like to do business, so much the better.
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