The bumpers aren't enough to force Jeep to test the Trailhawk separately using the EPA's fuel economy test, which makes it something of a loophole vehicle. I didn't approach the 22 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined seen on its window sticker, instead averaging closer to 21 mpg during a week of mixed driving. The non-Trailhawk bumper sits lower and has a special plastic spoiler designed to direct airflow to improve fuel economy, both of which should help it consume less fuel.
First gear slide
My test Compass Trailhawk's 9-speed automatic generally behaved better than I've come to expect for this transmission, which has come under considerable fire over the last few years. However, one quirk that I find hard to forget is how much it lets the Compass roll backward on a slope. Shift from Park to Drive and, as soon as you let off the brake, the Compass rolls nearly an entire wheel rotation before the transmission locks up and allows for forward momentum.
On a tight trail, that may be enough to ding the rear bumper. Better to aim for the bulky red tow hook—which begs the question, why do most off-road vehicles have just one rear recovery point?
2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk off-roadEnlarge Photo
All the tires
The Compass, in all of its permutations—front-wheel or all-wheel drive, stick shift or automatic, Sport, Latitude, Limited, or Trailhawk—is offered with a staggering array of tire brand and size choices available:
If you read all that (and, let's be honest, you probably didn't), you noted that the Trailhawk is only offered with Falken Wildpeak H/T tires. They're fairly beefy for something in this segment, with big tread blocks, but their 215/65R17 size means they don't exactly have a lot of sidewall. That's something you'll want to note if you're venturing where rocks and tree roots may make contact with the tires.
Keep your expectations in check and you'll find a delightful little off-road runabout in the 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk. For getting to a remote fishing spot or campsite, it will do exactly what most buyers need—and in a compact, maneuverable package.
I liked it the more I drove it within its modest limits, which are nonetheless a lot higher than any other Compass model and higher than any of its more street focused rivals.