I'm not offended by the idea of a unibody Jeep that can't crawl its way down the Rubicon Trail, but I'm a little offended to see the Compass pitched as a compact SUV/crossover. Drive this back-to-back with its Dodge Caliber cousin, and it's really hard to sense a difference.
I wasn't blown away by the buzzy I-4 or the CVT (which, although also supplied by JATCO, feels less sophisticated than those used in Nissans), but I'm most disappointed with the reworked interior, especially since I saw the wonders worked with the Ram cabins. Sure, the chrome trim may class things up slightly, but the plastics have little, if any, give. I was also annoyed by the persistent rattle that came from the rear hatch's trim panel striking the sheetmetal stamping.
Newer offerings, like the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox and Hyundai Tucson, offer more space, similar features, and a better value proposition. A similarly equipped 2010 Tuscon Limited comes in just under the $30,000 mark, while an all-wheel-drive Equinox 1LT with comparable content is only an extra $900 over this Compass.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer