2009 Compass New Car Test Drive
The Jeep Compass is built like a car and drives like a car. Jeep redesigned the interior of the Compass for 2009, with a new dashboard and instrument panel, soft-touch surfaces on the door armrests and center console, and a carpeted load floor instead of vinyl.
The Jeep Compass uses Chrysler's 2.4-liter, four-cylinder World Engine, developed jointly for 21st century efficiency with Mitsubishi and Hyundai. It's a solid, sophisticated, 16-valve engine. It features electronic variable valve timing that continually changes the torque curve, bringing more versatility to the 165 peak pound-feet of torque, and more capability to the 172 peak horsepower. Emphasis during development of this engine was on fuel mileage; even carrying 3326 pounds, the Compass 4WD with a five-speed manual transmission delivers EPA fuel economy estimates of 22/27 mpg City/Highway.
The Jeep Compass offers an optional continuously variable transaxle, which performs like an automatic transmission. The CVT comes with the Auto Stick manual shiftgate feature. The Auto Stick enables the driver to shift up and down over six preset gear ratios, making it feel like a six-speed gearbox without a clutch pedal.
The Compass rides and handles more like a car than an SUV and it offers plenty of safety features. It has a strong steel structure and a well-planned subframe. Side-curtain airbags and electronic stability control with anti-rollover sensors are standard.
Inside, the instruments and controls are well placed and easy to use. There's good interior space all around, with rear seats that fold flat to make about 54 cubic feet of cargo space. Options for added versatility include reclining rear seats and a passenger front seat that also folds flat, creating either a table or eight-foot-long space for storage. While the new interior design is a step up versus the cut-rate feel of the last version, it is still largely plastic and doesn't offer a rich or warm feel. Power windows and power door locks are optional.
For 2009, the Compass also gets more sound insulation in the engine compartment and floor, as well as revised suspension tuning on the Sport model for a more comfortable ride. Jeep's UConnect Tunes and UConnect GPS systems are also offered for the first time.
The 2009 Jeep Compass comes as two models, Sport and Limited, each with front-wheel drive (2WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). The standard engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic ($1100) with Auto Stick manual shiftgate. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder is available as a $200 credit option for the Sport. It makes 158 hp and 141 pound-feet of torque and only comes with the CVT.
The Compass Sport 2WD ($18,465) and AWD ($20,215) come standard cloth upholstery; air conditioning; tilt steering wheel; outside-temperature indicator; AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary audio jack; 60/40 split rear seat; fog lamps; roof rails; and P215/60R17 tires on aluminum wheels. The AWD Sport adds a locking center differential. The Quick Order Package ($2,125) adds power windows and locks and keyless remote entry; cruise control; YES Essentials cloth upholstery; height-adjustable driver's seat; fold-flat front passenger seat; reclining split folding rear seat; map lights; removable and rechargeable interior lamp; floor mats; rear privacy glass; and a 115-volt power outlet. A Sun/Sound group ($1295) adds a sunroof, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Sirius satellite radio, and a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system with speakers in the liftgate that can blast the crowd at tailgate parties.
Options include a 6CD player with MP3 playback capability ($350); the Trailer Tow Prep Package ($250) with engine oil cooler, full-size spare tire and wiring harness; front side airbags ($250); a Rallye Group ($1985) with driving lights, a rear spoiler, sport suspension, 18-inch tires and unique exterior trim; UConnect Tunes hard-drive audio ($650); and white-letter tires ($140).
The Compass Limited ($22,825) and Limited AWD ($24,575) add leather upholstery; heated front seats; height-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment; fold-flat front passenger seat; reclining rear seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; cruise control; 6-disc CD changer; Sirius satellite radio; 115-volt power outlet; power windows, mirrors and locks; remote keyless entry; electronic vehicle information center; auto-dimming rearview mirror; universal garage door opener; floor mats; sport suspension; and P215/55R18 tires. The front and rear fascia and side moldings have shiny aluminum accents, and, like the Sport, the Limited AWD gets a locking center differential.
Options for the Limited include the Sport options, plus a Security and Cargo Convenience group ($695) with front side airbags, daytime running lights, Bluetooth connectivity, an alarm and a tonneau cover; chrome-plated 18-inch aluminum wheels ($825); and UConnect GPS that includes a navigation system with real-time traffic information, Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity and a 30-gigabyte hard drive to hold music and picture files, as well as navigation map information ($1,200, $925 with the Security and Cargo Convenience group).
Safety features that come standard on all models include dual front air bags; head-protecting curtain side air bags; tire-pressure monitor; antilock brakes with brake assist (which applies more brake force than the driver is applying if sensors determine it's needed in a panic stop); traction control; and electronic stability control with rollover mitigation. Torso-protecting side-impact air bags for front-seat occupants are optional and we recommend them.