Jeep Compass aims too high

Has Jeep turned itself into a premium lifestyle brand? It would seem that way with luxurious SUVs such as the Grand Cherokee and Grand Wagoneer. 

The luxury striving at the top of the lineup isn’t translating to the thinned out bottom, however. With the Renegade and Cherokee discontinued for 2024, the Compass compact crossover stands alone as the entry point into whatever Jeep is becoming. The Compass tries to cut above the competition with soft-touch materials, a strong powertrain, and a huge touchscreen. But this is far from a Grand Cherokee with quilted leather and massaging seats. 

The Jeep Compass earns a middling TCC Rating of 5.8 out of 10 due to its comparatively high price, its inefficient powertrain, and for cheaping out in a place you can’t see or feel but you can hear.

I spent a week weighing the pros and cons of a refreshed 2023 Jeep Compass that mostly carries over for 2024, save for a styling tweak on the front grille. 

Jeep Compass

Pro: Jeep Compass sits a cut above competition

It’s been a minute since I’ve been in a Compass and it’s time to admit, the interior upgrades were surprising. The interior materials are a full step above what’s found in a Ford Bronco Sport, Kia Seltos, or even the Chevrolet Trailblazer after its glow up. The dashboard is soft-touch, the door panels are soft-touch, the armrests on the doors are thick and squishy, and my Latitude trim featured gray cloth trim on the dashboard and doors with blue stitching that broke up the black interior. No direct competitor looks, or feels, this nice inside.

Jeep Compass

Jeep Compass

Con: Jeep Compass costs too much

The Jeep Compass costs at least $27,495, which sits at about the same entry point for the Subaru Crosstrek and a Chevrolet Trailblazer with all-wheel drive. But then Compass pricing swings out wide due to option packages that add features like dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, and adaptive cruise control. The $2,375 Driver Assistance Group and $2,575 Convenience Group packages turned my Compass tester into a $39,535 affair. An optioned Crosstrek limited tops out at $35,290 while a loaded Chevrolet Trailblazer costs $34,670. As tested, the Compass costs nearly the same as a base Volvo XC40, which is much nicer. How much is a soft-touch dashboard and door panels really worth with the Jeep badge in a compact package?

Jeep Compass

Jeep Compass

Pro: Jeep Compass features punchy powertrain

The Jeep Compass ditched its anemic inline-4 a few years ago and is now powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-4. Rated at 200 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, the Compass now has plenty of punch off the line. Some competitors have this much power, but it’s optional, while most have smaller, less powerful engines. Jeep’s paired the turbo-4 with a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic, thankfully, and not the Cherokee’s 9-speed automatic that hangs and hesitates. Every Compass features all-wheel drive and the ability to lock the power split between the front and rear wheels with a button. Not all competitors offer this locking feature and it’s helpful in slippery situations.

Jeep Compass

Jeep Compass

Con: Jeep Compass isn’t terribly efficient

The Jeep Compass has EPA fuel economy ratings of 24 mpg city, 32 highway, and 27 combined. In 250 miles of mixed suburban driving I saw an average of 22.4 mpg. That’s not great. While it’s not warm in Minnesota right now, it should have drank a little less gas. A Subaru Crosstrek has better EPA ratings of 26/33/29 mpg with the larger 2.5-liter engine, and we’ve seen close to those ratings in the real world.

Jeep Compass

Jeep Compass

Pro: Jeep Compass features all the tech

Every Compass features a large 10.1-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The touchscreen features Jeep’s easy-to-use Uconnect 5 interface, which makes Chevrolet’s insistence on using Google’s Android software look like a bad choice with a limited and rudimentary interface that looks as if a first-year design student was in charge. Active safety tech including but not limited to a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, and even heated windshield wiper de-icers are something one rarely sees outside of a Subaru or Land Rover. 

Jeep Compass

Jeep Compass

Con: Jeep Compass goes cheap where you can’t see, but can hear

I made it two blocks away from the house before my wife asked what that clicking noise was. Immediately I knew what she was referring to. The Compass has what might be the world’s cheapest turn signal relay, which translates to what might be the loudest, most annoying, turn signal in production. Ever seen the movie “Dumb and Dumber”? Remember Lloyd’s most annoying sound in the world? Pretty sure the Compass’s turn signal indicator sound ranks in that capacity for my wife. 

Jeep’s reaching with the Compass by giving it a nicer interior and punchy powertrain. But will consumers forget the rental-car image and overlook the value baked into a Chevrolet Trailblazer or Subaru Crosstreks to walk into a Jeep dealership and pay a premium? Maybe, and for those that do they’ll find a surprisingly hospitable interior, though that turn signal indicator is going to wear on you. 


2024 Jeep Compass Latitude

Base price: $27,495, including $1,595 destination

Price as tested: $39,535

Powertrain: 200-hp turbo-4, 8-speed automatic transmission, AWD

EPA fuel economy: 24//32/27 mpg

The pros: nice interior, punchy powertrain, great tech

The cons: costs too much, inefficient, annoying turn signal indicator

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