In recent weeks, the test driveway has hosted a couple of models that we have already reviewed in the past year. Much of what we have found in the Jeep Cherokee and Volkswagen Atlas is pretty much a repeat of our favorable impressions we reported. So let’s talk about accessorized versions of these two, right from the factory.
Automakers have learned that many consumers would like their vehicles to stand out from the crowd and feel a bit more personable. The aftermarket industry does huge business in addressing these desires and automakers have certainly taken notice. Now, special edition vehicles are certainly nothing new but many automakers now offer specific trim lines and packages to give the new vehicles more personality and flair. Jeep offers a Trailhawk package for most of its new vehicles that brings more capability when leaving the pavement, and Volkswagen delivers its R-Line package giving its vehicles more urban style.
Jeep Compass Trailhawk
When we received the Jeep Compass last year, we were immediately impressed with the total makeover Jeep gave the model. Compass, in its previous form, should have been put out to pasture, but with the new generation vehicle, it is a night and day difference. And what’s even better is that now Compass can receive the coveted Trail Rating badge from Jeep, thanks to the added content of the Trailhawk package.
First, Jeep gives the Compass Trailhawk the requisite four-wheel drive running gear that includes a low range with 20:1 crawl ratio, perfect for serious rock climbing. Selec-Terrain allows drivers to automatically match vehicle system technology with the environment and terrain they are driving in, be it rocks, snow, sand, mud, or everyday life. Compass Trailhawk gets a suspension lift of almost one inch over other Compass models and skid plates are added underneath to protect vital components. Unique front and rear fascias allow better approach, breakover, and departure angles in the Trailhawk model which can ford water up to 19 inches deep. Aggressive 17-inch off-road tires are included on unique black pocket aluminum wheels and the vehicle is finished with Jeep’s signature red front and rear tow hooks.
All new Compass models are powered by the 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4 engine that is rated at 180hp and 175 lb. ft. torque. The Trailhawk edition mates a nine-speed automatic transmission to the engine, allowing for both better low range performance as well as optimum operation on the highway. Fuel economy is rated at 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. For a vehicle with this type content, that is none too shabby. The new Jeep Cherokee is getting a turbocharged four-cylinder engine option so would love to see that trickle down into the Compass lineup.
Pricing for the 2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk 4×4 begins at $28,795 with our loaded tester arriving with a final window sticker of $36,655 thanks to such add-ons as cold weather group, navigation group, safety and security group, and popular equipment group. We also enjoyed the optional dual-pane sunroof and power liftgate.
Despite the nice off-road gear the Trailhawk package adds to the Compass it rides very well on pavement. It is just a bit bouncier thanks to the off-road suspension but never did it get uncomfortable. And taking things off pavement? The Compass Trailhawk can truly hold its own in this compact utility vehicle segment, not to mention this package really does add a good bit of style and swagger to the vehicle.
Volkswagen Atlas R-Line
The all-new Atlas arrived last year from VW and is billed as the family-sized SUV from the automaker. But some folks don’t want to be reminded they are driving a family vehicle. Enter the R-Line that really dresses up the Atlas (and other Volkswagen models) for the perfect urban camouflage.
Our tester arrived in a gorgeous dark red called Fortana Red Metallic and right away I could distinguish something different over the SEL model we tested last year. The front and rear lower fascia panels are painted to match the rest of the vehicle when you order the R-Line. Truly stylish to say the least, and you still get what is perhaps the best new three-row SUV to hit the market in some time. And those R-Line 20-inch twin-spoke alloy wheels really dress the Atlas to the nines. A unique front grille and side skirts finish the exterior look (along with unique R-Line badging) and the interior gets stainless steel pedals for a sporty look on top of an already stylish arrangement. The black leather is very nice but I would like ventilated seats up front.
There are two engine options on the Atlas, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder TSI model and the 3.6-liter VR6 V-6. You cannot go wrong with either engine package as they are both mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0TSI is rated for 235hp and 258 lb. ft. torque while the VR6 generates 276hp and 266 lb. ft. torque. If you opt for 4Motion all-wheel drive with Active Control you will have to choose the VR6 engine but you get a max tow rating of 5,000 lbs. (FWD models with the 2.0TSI are rated to tow 2,000 lbs.). Fuel economy for the VR6 (that our tester arrived with) is rated at 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, which is about average for midsize utility vehicles with a V-6. Pricing for the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas V-6 R-Line tester was $44,025.
I really like the new Atlas from Volkswagen. I have tested two models now, one with 4Motion AWD and this FWD model in R-Line trim. I have to say other than the ventilated seats I yearn for, I am amazed at the outstanding job VW has done with this new model. It rides very stable, very quiet, and is very enjoyable to drive.