Someone in Chrysler must care, or perhaps it was just a stroke of good fortune that the Compass is still in the Jeep lineup. When the Compass first appeared in 2007, it was slow, noisy, handled badly and had cheap-looking plastic trim inside. Worse yet, Compass struggled to deliver its 30-mpg EPA highway fuel-economy rating.
Since then, much has been done to make Compass a legitimate compact crossover competitor. The interior of the 2014 Jeep Compass includes soft-touch materials on the door trim, a comfortable center armrest and a steering wheel that provides decent feel and grip. Other details include a Uconnect media center with iPod interface, available Sirius satellite radio and navigation, illuminated cup holders, liftgate speakers and fold-flat rear seats. The end result is reasonably attractice ,but pricing for a well-equipped Compass can easily climb into the $30,000 range.
The 2014 Jeep Compass is available in three trim levels: Sport, Latitude and Limited. New interior trim options like the Saddle Brown perforated leather seating with accent stitching. in the Compass Limited model: The Latitude model includes a new sport mesh and vinyl seat with light gray accent stitching, and the Light Pebble Beige trim features a new Tangerine accent stitch on the seats. In addition, the armrests and center console lid are now wrapped in vinyl and the instrument cluster overlay graphics have been updated. New satin chrome finish adorns the center bezel, shifter bezel and pull cups and a new bin applique with badge round out the interior design upgrades
Of the two available engines, your choice is limited by trim level. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine produces 158 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque or a 2.4-liter four-cylinder produces 172 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque. This engine is standard on all-wheel-drive models and all Compass Limited models.
In addition to standard front-wheel-drive, Compass is available with Freedom Drive I and Freedom Drive II Off-road Packages. Jeep Freedom Drive I is a full-time, active four-wheel-drive system with a lockable center coupling, giving you the ability to put the Jeep Compass in four-wheel-drive lock mode to handle deep snow, sand and other low-traction surfaces.
The Jeep Freedom Drive II 4x4 Off-road Package is a four-wheel-drive system that includes a second-generation continuously variable transaxle with low range that engages when the off-road mode is activated.
A five-speed manual transmission is standard for the Sport, while the Latitude and Limited get a new six-speed automatic as standard. The EPA estimates fuel economy for the 2.0-liter engine with front-wheel drive and the automatic to be 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. Sticking with the manual boosts these numbers a bit to 23/30/26.
The Freedom Drive II Group has a better 4WD system with low-range gearing and hill-descent control. It’s available only with the 2.4-liter engine, but you also have to get the CVT with its poor 20/23/21 fuel economy.
The Freedom Drive II Off-Road group can be added to all four-wheel-drive trims. It includes 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, tow hooks, an off-road driving mode, an engine oil cooler, underbody skid plates, a full-size spare tire, hill-descent control, hill-start assist and a height-adjustable driver seat for the Sport trim.
Standard Compass features include air conditioning, power windows, power locks, power/heated exterior mirrors, keyless entry, fog lamps, cruise control, illuminated cup holders, a removable/rechargeable light, outside temperature display, electronic stability control, front driver and passenger active head restraints, electronic roll mitigation, Hill-start Assist, front-seat-mounted side air bags, anti-lock disc brakes, 60/40 fold-flat rear seat and sunscreen glass.
Uconnect media center with iPod interface, SiriusXM Radio, navigation with SiriusXM Travel Link a power sunroof, a premium audio system with nine Boston Acoustic speakers, illuminated cup holders, liftgate speakers and fold-flat rear seats are some of the available features that make the Compass an enjoyable compact SUV.
For 2014, the Jeep Compass continues to offer an All-weather Capability Group option which includes Goodyear 17-inch all-terrain tires, all-season floor mats, daytime running headlamps, engine block heater and tow hooks, making the Compass a capable compact SUV off-road in all weather conditions.
But like most other small crossovers, the Jeep Compass is mainly intended to give you enough traction and ground clearance to get to work after a snowstorm. The Compass does have quite a bit more all-terrain capability than most other compact crossover SUVs, but that requires the addition of several extra cost options.
To be sure, you can’t expect your new Compass to go rock-crawling or boulder hopping. There’s just not enough ground clearance, but you'll be pleasantly surprised with the capabilities of the Compass when equipped to deal with slick surfaces and really bad weather.
Jeep Compass prices start at $18,595.