- Written by Wilson Calvert
What it is: The Compass is Jeeps compact crossover utility vehicle that recently got a refresh to look more like its bigger brother, the Grand Cherokee. Its been around since 2007, but the previously mentioned refresh happened in 2011 which greatly increased sales for the Compass by offering a significantly better looking exterior as well as a revised interior with more standard features. While only one engine choices is available for the Compass, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, you can choose from front-wheel drive or 4x4 is available, and when equipped with 4x4, the Compass is rated by Jeep officially as Trail Rated. While it wont offer as much capability as a Wrangler, I found in a previous test that the Compass can still be extremely capable off-road. My test model was the Limited trim, which is the top tier trim that offers 18 aluminum wheels, projector headlights, tinted windows, power and heated driver seat, and so on. It also came with optional navigation package ($395) which I found good, but not quite as good as the 8.4 navigation screen that is frequenting newer Jeep products. It is definitely a good value for $395 though. Driving the Compass is an enjoyable experience and it is big enough to not feel too dwarfed by surrounding trucks on Houston highways. I felt the engine/transmission combo provided plenty of acceleration and while the steering wasnt sports car accurate, it still got the job done in a confident way. One of the big selling points of the Compass is the gas mileage, and the Compass comes in at 21 city / 28 highway, which is good, but not spectacular. You have to feel like one of Jeeps new engines and transmission would provide more power and more gas mileage efficiency. Cost: $18,695 base price, $25,395 for Limited trim, $27,745 as-tested. MPG: 21 city / 28 highway / 24 combined Upsides: Affordable and capable Jeep with decent gas mileage Downsides: Starting to show its age. Competitors have newer products available. Summary: I really liked the Compass, but it may be just too far behind the times as the new Jeep Cherokee is available, and a superior product at a slightly higher price point. Dealers will likely be feeling that pinch and offering discounts on the Compass. Those discounts will make the Compass a much more desirable option, compared not only to the Cherokee but to the competition as well. If you buy a Compass, you may not have hard-core Jeep purists wanting to chat if you park next to one at the grocery store, but you can sleep well at night knowing you have a very capable vehicle that gets almost 30 mpg.