2013 Jeep Compass

2013 Jeep Compass Review

Cruising around La-la Land in Jeep's compact SUV.

By: Tim Healey

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: January 3rd, 2013

Jeep's Compass cute-ute is meant to be a boulevard cruiser that can also bash boulders. While there are many SUVs that trade on potential off-road prowess that never leave the Whole Foods parking lot, we think the Compass might actually do okay in the badlands, due to its Jeep pedigree.

We would've loved to test our theory during two days behind the wheel during a recent visit to Los Angeles, but we're afraid that the hairiest obstacle we faced was traffic on the 10 freeway. The only off-roading we did was over brick pavement at the hotel valet stand, but we got plenty of on-pavement seat time.

  • On the Road

    Our Latitude-trim-level tester had the uplevel 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (standard on 4x4 Latitudes) that makes 172 horsepower and 165 lb-ft of torque, and if those numbers look anemic, that's because they are. And it showed in around-town driving. The Compass felt slow, even when we dug deep into the throttle. We don't expect our compact crossover SUVs to be road rockets, but we didn't like working that hard to keep up with cross-town traffic.

    We didn't have much of a chance to truly test the Compass' handling, but we did appreciate its steering feel, which was surprisingly well-weighted. We also found the steering to be mostly accurate. Jeep hasn't always been known for getting steering tuning right, so this was a positive sign.

    Ride was adequate for around-town driving--there wasn't much bouncing or rude behavior, but we never forgot we were in a 4x4 that has some off-road ability baked in. The Compass wouldn't be our first choice for a crossover with a car-like ride, but it was never annoying or unacceptable.

  • Exterior

    There's not much to say about the Compass' looks--it trades on Jeep heritage (this is especially noticeable in the grille, since all Jeeps share variations of the same one) while softening the rugged looks of an off-roader somewhat. The end result is a bit bland and anonymous--it doesn't offend, but it doesn't turn heads. It just exists.

  • Interior

    The cabin is aging, and it shows. We found everything easy to reach and easy to use, but the materials look and feel downmarket (the dash is overly plasticky), and we found the unrelenting black of our test car's cabin to be a bit oppressive. We'd ask that Jeep spend some time on the cabin during the next redesign, but news reports indicate that the Compass won't likely survive beyond 2014, so it's a moot point.

  • Final Thoughts

    The Compass is a perfectly competent vehicle (if a tad on the slow side) but it's also perfectly forgettable. We suspect that more of these vehicles will end up in rental fleets than they will in driveways.

    We're hard on the Compass because much like its stablemate, the Patriot, it's outdated. The Compass isn't nearly as bad--but it's still far from top of the class.

  • Specs, Features, Prices

    Engine: 2.4-liter four-cylinder

    Transmission: Continuously variable automatic transmission

    Drive Wheels: Four-wheel-drive

    Fuel Economy: 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway

    Base Price: $23,445

    As-Tested Price: $26,885

    Available Features: 17-inch wheels, fog lamps, nine Boston acoustic speakers with subwoofer, two liftgate speakers, USB port, 40-gigabyte hard drive, Bluetooth, satellite radio, voice recognition, remote start.

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