One of the least expensive Jeeps, the Compass is a logical SUV for those who want utility and spaciousness without spending a fortune. There are some exclusive features like the Jeep-only drop-down speakers. When weighing the pros and cons, be advised that today’s crash avoidance features are not offered. Furthermore, today’s must-have dash tech will cost you more than the base price.
Proving itself a Jeep, the Compass wears the iconic seven-slot grille. Handsome sheet metal adds to its curb appeal. Many onlookers will notice a striking similarity to the best-selling Jeep Cherokee. The Sport trim wears 16-inch alloys, roof rails, and fog lights. A power package adds body-color trim and heated mirrors. The Sport SE package customizes the look by adding 18-inch gray alloys and gloss-gray body trim. The Latitude is dressed up with chrome exterior accents.
The Bare Necessities
With the Sport trim, you really get the bare minimum for the $19,695 MSRP. This includes air conditioning and manual locks. The driver has a tilt-only steering wheel. Cargo capability is expanded by folding the 60/40 split rear seats. That’s a good thing in this small SUV which doesn’t offer much room in its cargo hold. Dash tech includes:
- satellite radio capability
- auxiliary audio jack
- four-speaker CD system
For a more modern SUV, you’ll want one of several Sport packages, or perhaps you will spring for the Compass Latitude edition. A value package adds power accessories and remote keyless entry. Heated seats, upgraded upholstery, and a leather-clad steering wheel are among the extras in the Sport SE package, which is listed at $21,940 MSRP.
The Latitude, listed at $23,995 MSRP, is packed with these features. The Latitude also includes these amenities:
- 5-inch touchscreen
- optional navigation
- 115-volt power outlet
- height-adjustable driver’s seat
- reclining rear seatbacks
Top of the Line
If you want the most decked-out Compass, you can opt for additional packages on the Latitude. For $25,090 MSRP, leather upholstery dresses up the High Altitude Edition of the Latitude. It also has a sunroof and a power driver’s chair. For audiophiles, there’s a nine-speaker Boston Acoustic system. This includes the two swing-down tailgate speakers for outdoor use. Even with all of these packages, there are still some vital standards on the competition that are extra-cost options on the Compass. This includes:
- automatic climate control
- keyless ignition
- USB port
For minor outdoor adventures, you can get the all-weather capability package with larger wheels, all-terrain tires, and tow hooks.
If you want the ability to treat the Compass like a more rugged Jeep, however, it is better to opt for the Freedom Drive II Off-Road Group. You get an upgraded all-wheel drivetrain. This four-wheel drive has unique features such as simulated low-range gearing and a brake-lock differential. The package protects the engine with a heavy-duty alternator and an engine oil cooler. You also get skid plates for off-roading protection.
With all of this equipment, you can turn the Compass into one of the least expensive off-roaders you can buy. It’s just not advisable to treat it like the much more rugged Jeep Wrangler.
Performance and Fuel Economy
The Jeep Compass base engine is a 158-horsepower, two-liter powertrain that earns 30 mpg on the highway. The five-speed manual is standard, and a variable automatic transmission costs extra. Unique features include its convenient oil change monitoring system.
If that engine sounds too low-powered for your driving taste, the 2.4-liter World Engine generates 172 horsepower and 165 lb.-ft. of torque. A manual is standard, but an automatic is more fuel efficient. You can get 28 mpg highway with this combination.
It is certain that you can find competition with better fuel efficiency than the Compass. Although it’s more expensive, the Subaru Crosstrek may make up for it at the pump with its 30 mpg city and 34 mpg highway fuel efficiency.
The Compass has six airbags and active front head restraints. Jeep has engineered the body with crumple zones and special anti-intrusion features to reduce the impact of crashforce on the cabin. However, it has earned only four out of five stars when tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unlike the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda HRV, there are no crash avoidance technologies on the roster. Furthermore, the rearview camera isn’t standard, although it is available.
For those who must have an SUV, the Compass is definitely an economical choice. Yet it does become less competitive if you want to add must-have amenities and an automatic transmission. You’ll want to weigh these pros and cons against the competition before making a final decision.