Built on a new car-based platform shared with the Dodge Caliber, the Compass is one of two front-wheel-drive models from Jeep — the other being the compact Patriot. Both cars are examples of why so-called crossover vehicles are supplanting traditional truck-based SUVs. Trim levels include the Sport and better-equipped Limited.
Jeep’s compact, car-based Compass lacks the offroad chops its larger siblings boast, but it can tread lightly off the beaten path thanks to optional all-wheel drive. Compass competitors include the Honda Element and Ford Escape.
The Compass gets a redesigned instrument panel, door trim panels and center console. Jeep says there is a retuned suspension and improved sound deadening to provide a smoother and quieter ride. Option packages have also been simplified.
The Compass looks like the child of the previous-generation Liberty and the current Grand Cherokee. The doors have matching moldings that dress up a deliberate accent groove. All models have black mirrors and door handles, not body-colored.
The Compass is 173.4 inches long and 71.3 inches wide; that’s about the same as the Escape, but the Element is shorter.
- Standard body-colored front and rear bumpers and grille (moldings on Limited models are also body-colored)
- Standard fog lamps
- Standard side roof rails
- 17-inch aluminum wheels (Sport)
- 18-inch aluminum wheels (Limited)
- 18-inch chrome-clad wheels (optional on Sport)
- Optional sunroof
For 2009, the Compass gets a revised interior. The dashboard gets an all-new instrument panel that’s smoother and features chrome accents that brighten the new round interior vents, shift bezel and cluster rings (on Limited editions). There are also all-new door trim panels, and the center console features padded armrests.
Interior dimensions are rather large for the segment, coming in at 123.5 cubic feet of passenger volume, which beats the competitors by a good margin. Cargo volume, though, comes in at 22.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 53.6 cubic feet with the second-row bench folded. That’s less cargo volume than both the Escape and Element.
- Standard air conditioning
- Standard illuminated cupholders
- Available cloth, stain-resistant cloth or leather upholstery
- Optional power locks, windows and mirrors (standard on Limited)
- Optional hands-free communication system
- Optional voice-activated navigation and/or audio system (including touch-screen, voice commands, 30GB hard drive and navigation radio)
The Compass and Patriot are Jeep’s first models with four-wheel-independent suspensions. The brand’s other SUVs retain a solid rear axle, which offers advantages in some offroad situations.
For 2009, the Compass gets improved floor and engine-compartment silencers and a revised exhaust resonator that Jeep says will provide a quieter ride. Revised suspension tuning on Sport models is designed to provide a smoother, more comfortable ride.
- 172-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 165 pounds-feet of torque
- Five-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission
- Front- or all-wheel drive
- Standard side curtain airbags
- Standard electronic stability system with electronic roll mitigation
- Standard antilock braking system
- Standard traction control
- Standard smart key that immobilizes the engine in a theft attempt
- Optional seat-mounted side-impact airbags (front only)
- Optional alarm system