Jeep has significantly upgraded the Compass since its lackluster debut in 2006. A vehicle that was quite literally the ugly duckling in the Jeep portfolio has been transformed into one of its best-looking products. The substantial interior and exterior makeover took place for the 2011 model year and resonated with shoppers, as sales have more than doubled. Jeep offers a variety of drivetrain options ranging from a
fuel-efficient 2.0-liter four-cylinder that gets 29 mpg to a more powerful 2.4-liter four that can be paired with the rugged Freedom Drive II four-wheel-drive system and an off-road package that transforms the Compass into a surprisingly capable off-road machine. Neither engine is very refined, but they provide adequate power and reasonable fuel economy. The Compass is best suited to around-town driving and off-road excursions that are more focused on casual sightseeing than technical challenges. The Compass will be remembered for trying to stretch the Jeep brand a little too far, and it isn’t long for this world. Even Brian Nathan, chief engineer for the Compass and the Patriot, admits, “The vehicle’s life cycle is very short at this stage.” During a press conference in 2009, it was announced that the Patriot and the Compass would be killed off by the end of 2012 to make room for a new, Fiat-based small SUV wearing a Jeep badge. If you absolutely need a small Jeep today, the Compass will do, but smart shoppers should wait to see what 2013 holds.
Drive: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim Levels: Sport 4×2, Sport 4×4, Latitude 4×2, Latitude 4×4, Limited 4×2, Limited 4×4
Body style: SUV/crossover, 5-passenger
Engines: 2.0L I-4, 158 hp, 141 lb-ft
2.4L I-4, 172 hp, 165 lb-ft
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, continuously variable
Passenger volume: 101.3 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 1000-2000 lb; cargo space (rear seats up/down) 22.7/53.6 cu ft
Three new exterior colors are available for 2012 Jeep Compass models: true blue pearl coat, copperhead pearl coat, and rescue green pearl coat. A revised calibration for the continuously variable automatic transmission is supposed to provide better acceleration, smoother deceleration, improved throttle response, and lower engine rpm during midthrottle acceleration runs.
Advanced multistage front air bags; side curtain air bags, and front driver and passenger active head restraints; ABS; stability control; roll mitigation; and hill-start assist (on manual transmission vehicles) are standard. Seat-mounted side air bags and hill-descent control with the Freedom Drive II off-road package are optional.
All: 20-23 mpg city/27-29 mpg highway
- Looks like a Grand Cherokee, at least up front
- Very nice interior
- Unrefined engines
- Least credible Jeep
Getting better, but still far from great.
- Kia Sportage
- Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
- Suzuki SX4