The Jeep Compass is small crossover based on the now-defunct Dodge Caliber compact car. It features a similar grille and front fascia treatment to the Grand Cherokee, but unlike that truck, the Compass is more comfortable on the pavement than off the beaten path.
The Compass utilizes a pair of four-cylinder motors developed as a joint venture between Chrysler, Mitsubishi and Hyundai. The base engine is a 2.0-liter mill with 158 horsepower and 141 lb-ft of torque that is slightly overwhelmed by the vehicle's mass, though highway mileage is respectable at up to 30 mpg. The zero-to-60 benchmark comes in on the wrong side of 10 seconds.
A 2.4-liter unit provides a bit more power: 172 ponies and 165 lb-ft of torque. Though mileage falls with the bigger motor, zero-to-60 times are also trimmed to around nine seconds.
A five-speed manual transmission comes standard on base models, while a new six-speed automatic is available on all front-wheel-drive Compasses. Fuel economy for the 2.0-liter is rated at 23/30 mpg and 21/28 mpg with the manual and transmissions, respectively, while the 2.4-liter checks in at 23/28 mpg for the stick and 21/28 for the auto.
Being a Jeep, the Compass can be upgraded from its standard front-wheel-drive configuration to a "Freedom-Drive I" four-wheel drive system - but only with the larger four-cylinder. An available Freedom-Drive II Group further prepares the crossover for off-road duty with low range gearing for its noisy and crude CVT (the only gearbox available with the package), 17-inch all-terrain tires on aluminum rims, a one-inch raised ride height and skid plates that protect the transmission and oil pan from undercarriage-ravaging rocks. Even with those extras, owners should not expect the Compass to be a billy goat in the rough stuff.
The Compass 4x4 is rated at 23/28 with the five-speed manual, 21/27 with the six-speed automatic and 20/23 mpg with the CVT and Freedom-Drive II.
Inside, the Compass features excellent visibility along with a handsomely designed and ergonomically sound center stack, but many plastic surfaces feel and look cheap.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Compass is offered in Sport, Latitude and Limited trim levels.
The entry-level Sport comes equipped with the 2.0-liter motor and the five-speed manual as standard in addition to cruise control, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an AUX input, roof rails, 60/40 split rear seats and 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps - notably, expected conveniences such as A/C, power windows and power locks are not included. However, the later two can be added with the Power Value Package, which also brings heated mirrors, body-color exterior trim and keyless entry. A/C and 17-inch alloy wheels are also optional.
The Latitude adds all of the Sport's available features in addition to heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a height-adjustable driver's seat and reclining rear seats.
The Limited builds on the Latitude's features with the 2.4-liter/six-speed auto combo as standard in addition to leather upholstery, automatic climate control, a power-adjustable driver's seat, a trip computer and upgraded interior appearance items. For extra stopping power, it also swaps out the lesser trim levels' rear drum brakes for rear disc brakes.
Highlights from the options list include a sunroof, "Katzkin" leather upholstery, a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system and a Uconnect infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touchreen, voice command functionality, Bluetooth connectivity and available navigation functionality.
Compass Altitude, High Altitude
The Compass is offered with two appearance packages called Altitude and High Altitude, respectively.
The Altitude creates a murdered-out look by adding gloss black finish on the radiator grille and around the headlights, black roof rails, two-tone cloth and vinyl upholstery, heated front seats and 18-inch rims.
The High Altitude packages is only offered on four-wheel drive models equipped with the six-speed PowerTech transmission. It adds a power sunroof, leather upholstery, a six-way driver's seat and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
The Compass comes standard with traction and stability control systems in addition to dual front and full-length side curtain airbags, but front side airbags - a standard item on nearly every other new vehicle - are an extra-cost option.
Those considering the Compass would be well advised to check out more modern competitors like the Subaru Forester, the Nissan Rogue and the Toyota RAV4.