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Buy a car, save 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 frontman Bono and passionate fund-raiser Bobby Shriver, the charity has so far brought in over $700 million, with 100 per cent 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 mill 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 there’s a new eight-speed transmission, all-wheel drive as standard, retuned suspension, and a nicely-refreshed interior. 

All this suddenly makes the compact Jeep a more worthy rival to take on the class-leaders, like 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 hunky guys in the back seat with helmets and axes.

You also get a set of steely-gray 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 lb-ft 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 chewing gum on velvet, soaks-up lumps and bumps to deliver a nicely-smooth ride, and feels nimble, agile and nicely-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.


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