For some inexplicable reason, perhaps in an effort to increase its overall fuel efficiency, but Jeep decided it needed to add a Crossover to its lineup and thus the Compass was born. Unfortunately, the venerable off-road brand has not initially been represented well by Jeep’s first and only crossover vehicle. For 2009, Jeep has made a concerted effort to improve the Compass and make it a vehicle more widely appealing to buyers.
Most of the improvements to the Compass for 2009 are to the interior which was widely and loudly criticized for being extremely poor, even for Jeep, which has never been known for being especially concerned with comfort. The Compass gets a redesigned instrument panel, door trim panels and center console, all of which are major upgrades over the previous versions. Jeep also retuned the suspension and improved sound deadening to provide a smoother and quieter ride.
The Compass is available in two trims: Sport and Limited, both of which come with a 172 horsepower 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine. A less powerful 2.0-liter 158-horsepower I4 is available as a credit option on the base model only. According to the EPA, the base model produces 23/28 mpg in city and highway motoring. To Jeeps credit this fuel efficiency puts it at or near the top of its class. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional. A CVT offers the convenience of a regular automatic transmission, but doesn’t have fixed gear ratios. Most testers prefer the manual over the rather ambiguously shifting of the CVT.
Regardless of whether one likes or dislikes the Compass, all would agree that it is not indicative of the Jeep brands off-roading heritage. Even in 4WD configuration, the Compass is not up to doing much except driving on pavement. However, to the consternation of Jeep purists, the Compass was hardly intended for that purpose, but instead works well as a daily driver. Especially as an entry level vehicle, its ride is solid and its utility and comfort are respectable for its class. Starting at just over $18,000 the price is certainly right, and assuming you aren’t looking for true Jeep toughness, the Compass may satisfy more than just your budget.