The Compass is an affordable compact SUV meant to bring the Jeep name to a broader range of drivers with car-like on-road capability and fuel economy. Two trims are available: Sport and Limited, which have a 172-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission as standard equipment and styling that borrows bits from sleeker crossover wagons and rugged traditional Jeeps—plus mechanical underpinnings shared with the Dodge Caliber and Jeep Patriot—the Jeep Compass doesn’t leave a strong impression.
A more fuel-efficient model for 2010. The 2.0L four now comes standard with the 5M (Sport 4×2), providing 23 mpg city and 29 on the highway. All models get driver and front-passenger active head restraints, and Uconnect, remote start, and automatic climate control are options. The main engine remains the 2.4L, 172-hp four.
Last year, Chrysler tried to spruce up the Compass, which is a good thing since it was a little drab inside. It’s still no attention-getter, but these updates included a redesigned instrument panel with a smoother look and chrome accents, an updated center console with a split lid for added storage space, and door trim panels featuring padded armrests.
The Compass is not particularly quick with the larger 2.4-liter, 172-horsepower engine, let alone the smaller 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 158 horsepower. Interestingly, there is only a 1 mpg highway gain for the smaller engine when equipped with the five-speed manual transmission. Both engine options on the Compass are also available with an optional CVT.
The CVT, however, tends to exacerbate the unrefined nature of Chrysler’s four-cylinder engines. Jeep does offer AutoStick, which makes the gearbox shift more like a traditional fixed-gear transmission. Handling, however, is a bright spot; the Compass is very maneuverable and steers most of the time with the accuracy and precision of a small car while riding pretty well.
The 2010 Jeep Compass offers an adequate enough driving experience, but test drivers are still disappointed that it carries the Jeep badge but doesn’t have off-road capabilities. “Suffice it to say that the Compass does not shape up as a rock-crushing trail rider — even with its 4WD powertrain and 8-inches-plus ground clearance,” says the Sacramento Bee. “The Compass is more at home taking five people and their belongings to the beach for a summer day.”
The rounded contours of the Jeep Compass lack the trademark boxy styling of every other Jeep. Some reviewers like the SUV’s grille, but are still dissatisfied with the overall design. “It’s a car trying to be a Jeep,” says USA Today.
Since its 2007 introduction, the Jeep Compass has taken lots of criticism for its poor-quality five-seat cabin. That has changed somewhat with a mild refresh in 2009 but some reviewers still say the cabin doesn’t offer anything special. “In place of the ’08 models’ miserable oceans of shiny plastic are, well, much less offensive oceans of not-so-shiny plastic, and a decent helping of well-placed brightwork sprinkled about the cabin, most notably on the completely redesigned dashboard, which now has round air registers ringed in chrome
The 2010 Jeep Compass does well in federal government crash tests. It’s also equipped with an array of safety equipment, though supplemental front seat-mounted side air bags are only optional.