SUV Review: 2017 Jeep Compass Sport FWD

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Sep 062017

On an off-road course, like Moab, UT or California’s Rubicon Trail, Jeep’s reign supreme. Every Jeep offered has the ability to climb rocks, but some are more suited to city driving, like the Compass.

Redesigned for 2017, the small SUV brings more convenience features and an improved on-road experience as well. I recently test drove the 2017 Compass Sport FWD for Latino Traffic Report, and while it didn’t climb any rocks, it did get me through at least one on-road challenge.

The Compass Sport I drove was practically a base model, with a few optional packages. One option I would have passed up, and the most expensive one at $1500, was the six-speed automatic transmission. I would have preferred the standard six-speed manual transmission on the Compact Sport. Jeep also offers a nine-speed automatic for some 4×4 models.

While these transmissions could be matched to a choice of five engines worldwide, in North America, the 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder powers the Compass. The test model had an EPA estimated fuel economy of 22 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. I averaged 25.9 mpg during the weeklong test drive. To stretch fuel efficiency further, the engine cuts off at idle but it also tends to weaken the air conditioning.

The front-wheel-drive test model did not offer Compass’s best-in-class 4×4 off-road ability, but it did have some of the new features for 2017, like a 3.5-inch LED driver information display (DID) instrument cluster, Uconnect 5.0—one of four new Uconnect infotainment systems—displayed on a rather diminutive touch screen, a capless fuel filler, push button start, ParkView Backup camera, and Remote Keyless Entry.

Of the more than 70 available safety features on the new Compass, like electronic stability control, roll mitigation, and traction control, it was the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and tire service kit that really impressed me.

While driving around town, the TPMS warning light appeared. Some TPMS systems just show the alert icon, forcing the driver to guess which tire is low, but the  DID on the Compass displayed PSI levels for all four tires so that I was able to monitor the leak. Upon returning home, I could hear the sound of air hissing from the left rear tire and by the next day, Sunday, it was flat. With plans to fly out of Austin on Monday, I had to find a quick fix.

Checking the trunk for a spare tire, I found the tire service kit that included sealant and a pump. With a little help from a friend, we injected the tire with the sealant and while the leak persisted it did slow down. The electronic air pump helped assure me that I could refill the tire upon my return. After a few days, it had lost some air but the pump, which plugs into one of two 12-volt auxiliary ports, was quick and easy to use.

The test model also included the Technology Group ($495) with the Park Sense rear park assist system and Sport Appearance Group ($595) with 16-inch wheels and tinted glass. It did not, however, come with a blind spot monitor or forward collision warning technology, nor are these technologies available on this trim level.

Pricing for the Jeep Compass starts at $22,090. The as-tested price came to $24,680.

: The 2017 Jeep Compass offers segment-leading off-road capability, a manual transmission on the base model, and improved fuel economy.

No: The as-tested Compass Sport FWD lacked the ability to add important safety technology like a blind spot monitor, plus the engine stop-start technology weakened the air conditioning.

Top Ten Cheapest and Most Expensive Vehicles to Insure

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Jul 062017

Honda Odyssey

Latino Traffic Report (LTR) has just learned that’s annual ranking of the least and most expensive vehicles to insure named the Honda Odyssey as the least expensive for the second year in a row, while Jeep set a new record with its models taking up a whopping 50 percent of the top 10. On the high side, the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG convertible was the most expensive. The rankings were compiled from a recent review of insurance rates in every single state for more than 2,800 different vehicle models. commissioned Quadrant Information Services to calculate average auto insurance rates for 2017 models. Averages were calculated using data from six large carriers, such as Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm, in ten zip codes per state. Not all models were available, especially exotic cars.

Least expensive rankings were based on the best-performing trim line of each model. The worst performing trim line of each model determined most expensive rankings.

Least Expensive Vehicles to Insure

Jeep Renegade Sport

When it comes to cheap vehicles to insure, nothing has changed with the Honda Odyssey LX remaining at the top of the list. According to “Minivans have always been popular on our inexpensive to insure list. In 2011, all four of the top spots were minivans and every year since at least one minivan has been in the top five, with the exception of 2013.

What minivans lack in sex appeal, they make up for in safety and for a family vehicle, that’s where the emphasis should be. Safety features, a great safety rating, and extra cautious drivers lead to fewer accidents, claims, and lower rates. The Odyssey has received an overall five-star crash rating from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Second place goes to the Jeep Renegade Sport, the Jeep Wrangler Black Bear ranks No. 3 with the Honda CR-V LX earning the number four spot and the Jeep Compass Sport rounding out the top five.

While some may be surprised to see Jeep included so heavily in the list—in addition to the ones listed above, the Jeep Cherokee Sport took the No. 7 spot and the Patriot Sport tied for eighth place—it’s not so odd, according to Penny Gusner, consumer analyst for

“When people think of Jeeps, they typically think about ruggedness, not bells and whistles. The Jeeps on the list are the entry-level and thus would cost less to repair or replace than a car that comes with lots of expensive luxury features,” notes Gusner.

Top 10 Cheapest Cars to Insure

Rank Make\Model Average annual premium
1 Honda Odyssey LX $1,112
2 Jeep Renegade Sport $1,138
3 Jeep Wrangler Black Bear $1,148
4 Honda CR-V LX $1,170
5 Jeep Compass $1,183
6 Subaru Outback 2.5l $1,187
7 Jeep Cherokee Sport $1,188
8 Buick Encore (tie) $1,190
8 Jeep Patriot Sport (tie) $1,190
10 Subaru Forester 2.5l $1,196


Most Expensive Vehicles to Insure

Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG cabriolet

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the most expensive cars to insure list is mainly made up of sports cars that are designed to be driven fast, or high-end luxury cars.

As usual, Mercedes-Benz dominates the most expensive to insure category with nine vehicles in the top 20. The Dodge Viper drops from No. 1 to 2 and Maserati breaks into the top 10 for the first time as the Quattroporte GTS slips into the fourth spot.

While most of the cars on the list are out of the average person’s price range, sticker price is not always a reliable indicator of insurance costs. In many cases, less expensive but higher performance cars cost more to insure.

Dodge Viper GTS

As an example, the most expensive car to insure (Mercedes S65 AMG convertible) is indeed the most expensive car on the list with an MSRP of $247,900. However, the second most expensive car to insure (Dodge GTS Viper) is a relative bargain with an MSRP of $87,895.

Six of the nine Mercedes models on the most expensive to insure list are convertibles. Prone to more theft and break-ins, a convertible’s insurance rates will typically also be higher, plus convertibles, as a body style, can cost more than their siblings.

It’s not just high performance that jacks up the rates though, a sky-high sticker price and the accompanying repair costs also impact premiums. “It’s no coincidence that many of the vehicles on the most expensive insurance list are more than just Mercedes models—they’re among the most expensive versions of those models, and consequently the most expensive to replace and possibly to repair,” points out Joe Wisenfelder, executive editor with

Top 10 Most Expensive Cars to Insure

Rank Make/Model Average annual premium
1 Mercedes S65 AMG (convertible) $3,835
2 Dodge GTS Viper $3,779
3 Mercedes S63 AMG 4Matic (convertible) $3,624
4 Maserati Quattroporte GTS $3,547
5 Mercedes S550 (convertible) $3,502
6 Mercedes C43 4Matic (convertible) $3,418
7 Mercedes Maybach S600 $3,355
8 Mercedes SL65 AMG (convertible) $3,322
9 Nissan GT-R Nismo $3,313
10 Audi R8 5.2L V10 Quattro $3,267

What Affects Insurance Rates

According to, the three factors that most affect insurance costs are repair costs, claim rates, and vehicle type. Accident avoidance features, like airbags and restraint systems all impact rates. Anything that reduces the risk of damage to the vehicle and injury to the people inside, results in less expensive insurance.

The good news is that affordable insurance no longer exists only in the compact or family sedan category. It’s now possible to affordably insure minivans, SUVs, and pick-ups.

The common dominator in the least expensive to insure category is safe drivers. “Notice that all of these are essentially family vehicles that, overwhelmingly, will be subjected to normal driving in the hands of responsible parental types,” observes Wiesenfelder.

While SUVs had their problems in the past, mainly with rollovers, the safety ratings of SUVs have improved dramatically over the years. Safety features and accident rates have made a big impact on rates. Still, average rates are for comparative purposes only. Your own rate will depend on personal factors.

FCA Recalls 2007–2010 Model Year Jeep Wranglers

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May 212016


Latino Traffic Report has learned that FCA US LLC is voluntarily recalling an estimated 392,464 Jeep Wrangler SUVs, model-year 2007-2010, in the U.S. to replace their clockspring assemblies and related components.

Located in a vehicle’s steering wheel, a clockspring forms part of the circuit that helps control airbag function. An investigation by FCA US determined excessive exposure to dust and dirt – consistent with extensive off-road driving or driving with a vehicle’s top and/or doors removed may compromise the clockspring and eventually prevent driver-side airbag deployment in a crash.

If this condition is present, the airbag warning-lamp will be illuminated. If such an event occurs, customers are advised to contact their dealers.Jeep_Wrangler_X_--_10-06-2010

The Company is unaware any potentially related injuries or accidents.

An additional 7,435 model-year 2011-2016 vehicles equipped with right-hand drive for special duty also are affected in the U.S.

Vehicles affected outside the U.S. comprise an estimated 35,412 in Canada; 8,529 in Mexico and 62,580 outside the NAFTA region. Customers will be advised when they may schedule service, which includes installation of a new steering-wheel back cover and a steering-column shroud.

Customers with questions may call the FCA US Customer Care Center at 1-800-853-1403 or go to

Jeep Introduces Its Latest Offspring, the Renegade

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Apr 152015

2015 Jeep® Renegade Latitude

It’s been said you can never get enough of a good thing. When it comes to compact sport utility vehicles (SUVs), Jeep apparently agrees.

Expanding Jeep’s lineup for 2015, the Renegade was recently launched in San Jose, CA. It joins its diminutive siblings, the Compass and Patriot, at the smaller end of the Jeep spectrum, appealing to fans of Jeep capability, as always, but with better fuel economy. The Renegade sets itself apart with more of the Wrangler’s brawn.

Technically, the Renegade is the first Jeep to enter the small sport utility segment—the Compass and Patriot compete among compact SUVs. With few true competitors, the Renegade offers many first-in-class innovations starting with “My Sky” open-air roof systems with removable panels that take inspiration from the Wrangler.

“My Sky” open-air roof systems with removable panels

“My Sky” open-air roof systems with removable panels

“The Renegade is true to the Jeep brand, offering open air freedom and packed with fuel efficiency and versatility,” asserted Jim Morrison, director, Jeep Brand, at the launch.

Another first-in-class is the Renegade’s nine-speed transmission. Matched to a choice of two four-cylinder powertrains—a 1.4-liter and 2.4-liter—it helps improve fuel economy. The Renegade Sport and Latitude (pictured at top) equipped with the six-speed manual, however, offer the best EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 24/31 miles per gallon (mpg). On the test drive, the 1.4-liter averaged 27 mpg.

Like all Jeeps, the Renegade will be at ease on the road as well as off. Available in four trim levels in 2×2 or 4×4 configurations, the trail rated Trailhawk will appeal to true rock crawling fans. At the launch, it moved along a trail at the Hollister Hills State Vehicle Recreation Area (pictured below) without a hitch.

2015-01-22 14.jeepren2licOff-road capability begins with two new 4×4 systems, Jeep Active Drive and the class-exclusive Jeep Active Drive Low (Trailhawk only). Standard on all 4×4 models, Jeep Active Drive full-time 4×4 system automatically disconnects the rear axle and power transfer unit to help improve fuel economy.

Both 4×4 systems include the Jeep Selec-Terrain system with up to five modes (Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud, plus Rock mode on the Trailhawk model) for drivers to choose depending on road conditions.

Familiar design cues, like the seven-slot grille, keep the Jeep DNA in tact while others offer a new twist, e.g. the x on the tail lights was taken from military equipment like gasoline cans.

Described as Tek-Tonic, the new interior design takes inspiration from extreme sports like base-jumping. Colors like Tresspass Black monotone interior or Black and Warm Sand two-tone seats, and a gauge cluster with a mud-splatter design graphic accentuate the theme.2015 Jeep Renegade Limited

The cluster also includes the Driver Information Display (DID) with temperature, compass, tire-pressure monitoring, trip computer, distance-to-empty, range, vehicles messages and vehicle speed.

For better comfort and convenience, air conditioning, keyless entry with panic alarm, a UConnect AM/FM stereo with a Media Hub—audio jack input for mobile devices and remote USB port, vanity mirrors, a 60/40 split-folding rear bench, and a removable and height-adjustable cargo floor panel are standard.

The Renegade offers 70 available safety features including a blind spot monitor, forward collision warning, Rear Cross Path Detection, although not on the Sport model. A rear backup camera, however, is available on the Sport and standard on the three subsequent trim levels.

Standard safety features include Electronic stability control with Hill-start Assist, all-speed traction control, electronic roll mitigation, and trailer sway damping.

Designed in America and crafted in Italy, pricing for the 2015 Renegade begins at $18,990 with destination fees.


Reviews–2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo E

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Jan 072015


The trailblazing Jeep Grand Cherokee continues to break new ground in 2014. Sporting an eight-speed transmission and offering a diesel engine in the lineup, it hasn’t missed a step with the latest generation.

Jeep recently delivered a Grand Cherokee Laredo E 4X4 for review. While not the fanciest trim level, the Laredo E will probably be the most popular and with good reason.

While the premium Jeep gets credit for creating the luxury SUV segment, the mid-level Laredo feels just as solid and plush with its premium cloth seats. The stitching along the dash is nice plus the seven-inch digital display in the instrument cluster can be customized to show a variety of information. I always keep my average fuel economy calculator showing to optimize fuel-efficient driving.

While the diesel will beat most gasoline-powered engines with a best-in-class 30 mpg on the highway, the 3.6-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque on the Laredo has an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 17/24 mpg. I averaged 19.2 mpg. A 5.7-liter V8 is also available.


Rock crawling remains a Jeep specialty and the Grand Cherokee offers three 4×4 systems, a class-exclusive Quadra-Lift air suspension, and class-leading Jeep Selec-Terrain traction management system with new Selec-Speed Control.

Grand Cherokee also boasts best-in-class towing of 7,400 pounds (6,200 with the V6) and the eight-speed transmission improves its 4×4 performance with a lower crawl ratio. I didn’t get to test it on this drive but at the launch last year near Enchanted Rock, Texas, it crawled with finesse.

On road, the Laredo moved fluidly and quietly, plus all Grand Cherokee models include standard paddle shifters mounted on the back of the new steering wheel.

There offers more than 60 available safety features, including Front Park Assist, Forward Collision Warning with Crash Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control, and a blind sport monitor. Unfortunately, the test model did not include any of these, nor can they be added to the Laredo. Also missing is a back-up camera.

What the Laredo E did include was Electronic Stability Control, Keyless Enter-N-Go, anti-lock brakes, side curtain and knee airbags, and Hill Start Assist, among other features.


Upgraded exterior details, like new headlamps and grilles that distinguish each trim level are matched to new features on the inside including a seven-inch customizable gauge cluster and five-inch touchscreen on the center stack. The 8.4-inch touchscreen is available but not on the base model. The extra large screen, however, has converted a CD player into a $200 option.

Creature comforts include dual-zone air conditioning, cruise control, Uconnect entertainment system with integrated voice command and Bluetooth, and a leather wrapped steering wheel.

Added equipment like Sirius Satellite Radio came with the Customer Preferred Package ($1,700) and heated front seats and the Selec-Terrain system were added via the All Weather Capability Group ($1696). The Security and Convenience Group ($1,350) added a power liftgate among other features.

Available in four trim levels, pricing for the 2014 Grand Cherokee starts at $30,190. The as-tested price for the 2014 Laredo E came to $37,530.