Buy a car, help a life. That’s Jeep’s aim with its involvement with the (RED) foundation, currently making a huge difference in helping fight the global health crisis.
Anyone buying a fire-truck red 2023 Jeep Compass (RED) Edition, just like the one I’m piloting this week, and Jeep will donate cash to help fund (RED)’s life-saving projects around the world.
Founded in 2006 by U2 front man Bono and passionate fund-raiser Bobby Shriver, the charity has so far brought in over $700 million, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to doing good.
Jeep, along with is sister brands RAM and Fiat, have made a commitment to donate at least $4 million through vehicle sales and some cool merchandise.
If that wasn’t a worthy-enough reason to buy yourself a new Jeep Compass (RED) Edition, the big changes they’ve made for the just-launched ’23 Compass only add to the appeal of this very cute “ute.”
For starters, it gets a brand new 200-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This replaces the previous, antiquated 180-horse 2.4-liter which was as wheezy as a chain-smoker on a treadmill.
Add to that a new eight-speed transmission, all-wheel drive as standard, retuned suspension, and a refreshed interior, and the compact Jeep is a more worthy rival to take on the class-leaders (think: Ford’s Bronco Sport, Toyota’s RAV4, Honda’s CR-V, and Nissan’s Rogue) in the super competitive $30,000 to $45,000 segment.
The Compass (RED) I’m driving, based on the fancy Limited spec, stickers at $39,530 including destination, or $42,525 extra nicely loaded with the so-called Elite package.
What you get with (RED) is, naturally, that retina-searing Redline paint, which really does deserve to be matched with a set of rooftop strobe lights, a fire-truck siren, and some guys in the back seat with helmets and axes.
You also get a set of steely-grey, 19-inch thin-spoke alloys, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, and a very cute (RED) badge on the tailgate featuring the outline of an old Willys Jeep.
Disappointingly, that’s where (RED) ends. Climb aboard and it’s the typical sea of gloomy black, with perforated black leather for the seats and dash, and glossy piano-black for the center console.
Where is the red contrast stitching, the red seat belts, the red floor mats, the odd red button or switch, or even an embroidered red Jeep Willys in the headrest? Not here.
But on the road, you’ll forgive a lack of redness for the enthusiastic way this re-jigged Compass drives. The new 2.0-liter turbo motor, coupled with a smarter, swifter-shifting transmission, suddenly feels like it has Red Bull in its tank.
It now zips off the line boosted by a meaty 221 pound-foot of torque, revs smoothly, and has no shortage of mid-range muscle for safe, swift passing, and freeway merging.
I can’t say I’m a fan of the re-tuned electric steering. It feels strangely artificial and weirdly boosted, like lane-centering assist is always assisting.
But it grips the blacktop like gum on velvet, soaks up lumps and bumps to deliver a smooth ride, and feels nimble, agile, and balanced through the curves.
In its role as a practical hauler of stuff, the new Compass also impresses. No, it’s not as spacious or versatile as the boxy Bronco Sport, but it’s roomier than the RAV4. With the second seat folded, there’s almost 60 cubic feet of cargo space.
And the cabin itself, especially in this (RED) version, is all nicely put together with good-quality materials and plenty of features. The new, standard 10.1-inch, tablet-like infotainment touchscreen looks and works great.
What we have here is a great little all-rounder that does everything well, while doing its bit for a great cause in the process. Bono would approve.