2023 Jeep Compass Altitude

The Jeep DNA comes through with this 4x4 system that bests the all wheel drive offerings from other competitors.
The Jeep DNA comes through with this 4x4 system that bests the all wheel drive offerings from other competitors.

by Imran Salam | July 11, 2023


Does a Jeep really need to be a “Jeep?” Does every SUV need to be an off-road capable all terrain vehicle that can traverse inches of mud and climb steeply angled boulders on deserted trails? Based on the many polls and studies that confirm that the vast majority of SUV owners take their vehicle off road once or less per year, I think not. There is space for no nonsense, simple people haulers to conquer the concrete jungles most of us live in. Enter the 2023 Jeep Compass Altitude.

Jeep, best known for its penultimate all terrain vehicle, the Wrangler, has made something far more civilized, meant to be used on surface streets, in snow, the occasional gravel road, and not much else. Jeep is looking to play a bigger part in the same (very) clean sandbox as the stalwarts from Honda and Toyota. The CR-V and RAV4 aren’t spotted on off-road trails either and seem to do just fine in both sales and public perception.

The perception of the Jeep brand itself might work against the Compass as it’s expected to be far more capable than its rivals when it comes to off-roading, despite making no such claims (outside of the Trailhawk version). Let’s remove the Jeep moniker for a moment and look at the Compass objectively. The 2023 Jeep Compass is a good on-road vehicle, with some of that very old Jeep family DNA sprinkled in for good measure.

The exterior is unmistakably Jeep, sporting the familiar and timeless horizontal grille, sharing much of the front end with Cherokees (and Grand Cherokees) past and present. It’s a handsome little thing, especially this Altitude version with its deep red paint and black accents throughout, accentuated by the 18-inch gloss black wheels wrapped in 225/55R18 tires.

There are some nice little touches on the outside, like the Compass name on the front doors, Jeep logo embedded into the side view mirrors and a cheeky old school mini Wrangler graphic on the front windshield.  The dimensions of the Jeep Compass are tailor made for city driving, making it easy to maneuver and park in the tightest of spaces. It’s certainly more CUV than SUV and that’s fine by me. It manages to look bigger than it is without looking intimidating.

Stepping inside tells a bit of a different story, where the compact size of the Compass is more apparent, especially in rear seat space. We tested a rear facing child seat and it fit quite snug but was still manageable.The front seats are good and offer a comfortable amount of space, with this Altitude’s driver seat (only) being power adjustable. It was easy to find a comfortable driving position with good outward visibility once settled in. Main touchpoints like the leather wrapped steering wheel and HVAC controls feel solid.

As expected in this class, hard, hollow and scratch-prone plastics are littered throughout the cabin, but your interaction with them is limited outside of the door panels. Trunk space is adequate with marginally more usable space than your typical hatchback but less than offerings from other competitors in the compact crossover segment. This isn’t a work truck but it will gladly carry your family’s stuff for a week long getaway at the cottage. Shout out to the power liftgate button being just inside the side of the trunk vs on the tailgate, a clever location my five-foot-three wife approves.

The infotainment system and gauge cluster are a tale of two halves. The UConnect 5 infotainment interface is nice and clean with an easy to navigate layout that takes little time to get used to. The standard sound system controlled via UConnect is surprisingly decent as well, offering better than expected sound quality from its six speakers (there’s an optional nine speaker Alpine system available).

It’s also nice of Jeep to not go full touch with everything, offering a rotary dial for volume and a full suite of redundant HVAC controls to make life easy. It may look a little dated, but it works well. The same goes for the steering wheel controls; I dig FCA’s implementation of volume and track rockers on the backside of the steering wheel.

Moving to the 10.25-inch gauge cluster screen, things start to fall apart a little bit. The graphics are uninspiring, and display on a low resolution screen reminiscent of something from the early 2000s. Jeep boasts that there are 16 different screen configurations, yet none of them seemed all that interesting. The graphics and dials don’t utilize the available screen real estate efficiently, displaying some crucial information much smaller than one would expect.  Still, it’s usable and rather inoffensive overall.

The Compass Altitude comes loaded with a solid technology package that is becoming ubiquitous in this segment, including available radar cruise control with start and stop, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian/cyclist detection, blind spot monitoring and even a 360 degree camera with dynamic parking lines (many of these are bundled in the optional driver assistance package). Being in Canada, a heated steering wheel and remote start are welcome features on this spec.

The 2023 Compass Altitude is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Power is comparable to others in this segment, coming in at 200 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. With the turbo providing a good amount of low end torque, you never feel wanting for power around town. It goes about its business rather quietly as well. Nothing about the powertrain will stand out to you, good or bad, except the all-wheel-drive system.

The Jeep DNA comes through with this 4×4 system that bests the all wheel drive offerings from other competitors, being able to select from different modes like auto, mud and snow and even lock into full time AWD mode on command. Fuel economy brings us back to the unspectacular yet inoffensive theme of the Jeep Compass, where the averaged 10.3L/100km in mixed driving is dead average.

Ride quality continues the unspectacular yet inoffensive trend yet again, offering a softer ride that borders on bouncy, taking a moment to settle down after hitting a pothole or bump in the road. It feels right for this type of vehicle but a little more composure would help instill more confidence in its abilities.

The 2023 Jeep Compass Altitude comes in at $48,430 as optioned, which is slightly higher than comparably equipped rivals, but nothing that isn’t justifiable if you prefer the Jeep brand or the Compass’ styling.  In the end, the 2023 Jeep Compass Altitude does everything well enough without getting anything particularly right, making it a good choice for navigating through the concrete jungles we live in.

See Also:

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L Navi

2022 Subaru Crosstrek Outdoor

2023 Toyota RAV4 Woodland Edition

Vehicle Specs
Compact Crossover
Engine Size
2.0L turbocharged inline-four
Horsepower (at RPM)
Torque (lb-ft.)
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Imran Salam

Staff Writer

Imran is a true enthusiast who you'll find at shows, local meets, Sunday drives or the track. He appreciates the variety the car industry has to offer, having owned over a dozen cars from different manufacturers. Imran is grateful to own one of his childhood poster cars and enjoys inspiring the next generation. When Imran is not behind wheel he is found playing basketball or spending time with family.

Current Toys: '13 Boxster S 6MT, '24 Integra Type S, '08 328xi