2011 Compass New Car Test Drive
The Jeep Compass is built like a car and drives like a car, but it has the kind of versatility and capability associated with a small SUV. It's available in two trim levels and with two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and delivers commendable fuel economy.
The Compass is available with a choice of two engines. The standard engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 16 valves, electronic variable valve timing that continually optimizes the torque curve, and balance shafts. It delivers 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. With two-wheel drive it is EPA-rated at 23 mpg City, 28 mpg Highway with the manual transmission and 21/25 with the CVT automatic. New is a 2.0-liter 16-valve four-cylinder, also with variable valve timing and balance shafts, with 158 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque. With two-wheel drive it is EPA-rated at 23/29 mpg with the manual transmission and 23/27 with the CVT automatic.
The Jeep Compass offers an optional continuously variable transaxle, or CVT, 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 interior design is nice, it is largely plastic and doesn't offer a rich or warm feel. Power windows and power door locks are optional.
The few changes for 2010 are active head restraints for the front seats and a couple of changes to some options packages.
The Jeep Compass comes as two models, Sport and Limited, each with front-wheel drive (2WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). The standard engine is the 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission; the CVT automatic with Auto Stick manual shiftgate is optional ($1,100). The 2.0-liter four-cylinder is available for the Sport.
The Compass Sport 2WD ($18,720) and AWD ($20,470) come standard with cloth upholstery; air conditioning; tilt steering wheel; outside-temperature indicator; AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary audio jack; fog lamps; roof rails; and P215/60R17 tires on aluminum wheels. The AWD Sport adds a locking center differential. The Sport E Group ($3,220) adds power windows and locks; keyless remote entry; cruise control; stain repellant cloth upholstery; height-adjustable driver's seat; fold-flat front passenger seat; reclining split-folding rear seat; a 115-volt power outlet; and iPod control. A Sun and Sound group ($1,295) 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.
Other options include a six-CD player with MP3 playback capability ($350); the Trailer Tow Prep Package ($250) with engine oil cooler, full-size spare tire and wiring harness; and front side airbags ($250).
The Compass Limited ($23,385) and Limited AWD ($25,135) 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; six-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 include chrome-plated 18-inch aluminum wheels ($825); AM/FM/CD with navigation ($1,200); a Security and Cargo Convenience group with front side airbags, an alarm, auto-dimming mirror, remote start, and a tonneau cover; plus the Sport options.
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.