The Compass range uses FCA's 'small, wide architecture', which uses 65% high-strength steel in a single monocoque structure. The suspension is by independent struts front and rear, with dampers by Koni, and the steering is electrically power assisted. As well as class-best off-road ability, Jeep also claims superior on-road ability.
Jeep will offer the Compass with five engines - three petrol and two diesel - but isn't giving details of European engine options until Geneva. However, given that the Compass uses the same architecture as the smaller Renegade (at 4394mm, it's about 250mm longer), it is likely to share the smaller car's European engine options, which include a 1.6 E-Torq petrol engine and 1.6 and 2.0-litre Multijet diesel engines.
The flagship US engine is the proven 2.4-litre normally aspirated 16-valve four, complete with Fiat-developed Multiair2 induction. Outputs of 180bhp and 175lb ft are directed through a choice of three transmissions, a standard wide-ratio six-speed manual gearbox for all versions, a class-exclusive optional nine-speed automatic for 4x4s or a six-speed optional automatic for two-wheel-drive models.
The flagship Compass is the Trailhawk, which gets the Tigershark 2.4-litre engine as standard. It is raised 20mm and has special higher-clearance front and rear bumpers (plus signature red tow hooks) that give it better arrival, departure and break-over clearances than the other models. It also has better fording depth (around 490mm). Standard 'aggressive' off-road tyres are fitted to 17in wheels, and the Trailhawk's mode selector includes a unique Rock mode.
Both systems incorporate a hill descent control that also adapts the cruise control system to govern descent speeds in more extreme conditions. Both 4x4s also allow the selection of Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud modes and are capable of sending 100% of available torque to one wheel if necessary.
There's even a freewheel function for the rear wheels when all-wheel driving isn't needed in order to reduce mechanical drag and thus improve fuel consumption, although rear-wheel drive re-engages instantly when needed.
Inside, the Compass goes for premium treatments that vary according to model. The centre console houses a 5.0in, 7.0in or 8.5in touchscreen according to model, and all models get an electronic parking brake. The steering wheel features integrated audio, voice and speed controls and US buyers get a choice of four screen-based infotainment systems that integrate Apple or Android smartphones.
Jeep claims more than 70 safety features, including forward collision, lane departure and rear cross-path warnings, plus blind spot monitoring. The Compass goes on sale in the US in the first quarter of 2017 and is expected in Europe in the second half of the year.