2009 Jeep Compass SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Jeep Compass SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Jeep Compass Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 172 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 23/28 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2009 Jeep Compass

  • A thorough interior overhaul isn't enough to elevate the 2009 Jeep Compass from the compact SUV segment's sub-basement. You can do much better.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Low price, lots of headroom, many available features.

  • Cons

    Dime-store interior, sluggish and noisy acceleration, unimpressive fuel economy, limited cargo space, harsh ride, lacks typical Jeep off-road abilities.

  • What's New for 2009

    After only two years on the market, the 2009 Jeep Compass gets a thorough interior overhaul, including a redesigned dashboard and upgraded materials. More sound deadening has been added, along with revised exhaust tuning. Some of the Compass' optional features have been modified, especially the now-optional hard-drive-based digital music storage and USB audio jack.

Full 2009 Jeep Compass Review

What's New for 2009

After only two years on the market, the 2009 Jeep Compass gets a thorough interior overhaul, including a redesigned dashboard and upgraded materials. More sound deadening has been added, along with revised exhaust tuning. Some of the Compass' optional features have been modified, especially the now-optional hard-drive-based digital music storage and USB audio jack.


The idea of a smaller, more-fuel-efficient Jeep should be a recipe for success in the current climate, right? Americans will always connect with the iconic brand's macho image, so a four-cylinder-powered model with a more realistic on-road nature is bound to be a winner. In the end, though, it doesn't really matter that the Jeep Compass was a good idea in theory -- possibly even a prophetic one. Even after a thorough interior overhaul, this small SUV is so poorly executed in almost every area, it is impossible to recommend.

The 2009 Jeep Compass, like its boxier Patriot brother, is based on the Dodge Caliber hatchback, which isn't a good place to start. Its powertrains are noisy and slow and don't offer particularly impressive fuel mileage. Although the Compass features SUV height and ground clearance (and therefore the SUV classification), its interior space is more like the Caliber's, with less maximum cargo space than any other small crossover SUV. Unlike past Jeeps, the Compass at least rides and handles more like a car -- just not a particularly pleasant car.

One of the previous Compass' worst offenses was its poorly constructed interior. Almost every surface consisted of low-buck plastic pieces. This is no longer the case for the 2009 Jeep Compass. Dash materials are now smoother in both texture and in shape, while the driver's armrest is now suitable for actually resting one's arm. However, this takes the Compass from awful to passable -- almost every competitor still offers a more welcoming environment. On the upside, at least the Compass now gets the latest Chrysler entertainment options, like hard-drive digital music storage, a touchscreen interface and a USB port.

On paper, the Compass seems to have many of the compact SUV attributes buyers are looking for: decent size, carlike driving experience, ample features list and low price. But drive it back to back with its competitors and you're likely to discover the many shortcomings we noticed in the 16 months and 16,000 miles we spent with a very disappointing long-term Compass test car. We suggest checking out the class-leading Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Rogue and Subaru Forester. If you're looking for a budget buy, the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage are much better choices than the Compass. Sometimes, good ideas don't end in successful reality.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Jeep Compass is a five-passenger compact SUV available in Sport and Limited trim levels. Standard equipment on the Compass Sport includes 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, foglamps, air-conditioning, a tilt steering wheel and a four-speaker stereo with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The "E" package adds full power accessories, cruise control, keyless entry, driver-seat height adjustment, reclining rear seats, a removable flashlight, passenger assist handles and stain-repellent upholstery. All of the "E" stuff is included with the Limited, which also adds 18-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, satellite radio and an in-dash six-CD changer (the latter is optional on the Sport).

There are a number of packages available on both trims. The security and cargo convenience group adds front side airbags, heated cloth seats (Sport), a cargo cover, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and Bluetooth (Limited). The sun and sound group adds six upgraded speakers, flip-down tailgate speakers, a subwoofer, a sunroof and, on the Sport, satellite radio. Uconnect Tunes adds a touchscreen audio interface, a hard drive for digital music storage and a USB audio jack. A navigation system can also be added to the Limited.

Powertrains and Performance

Front-wheel drive is standard on the Jeep Compass, while a four-wheel-drive system is optional. It operates in front-wheel-drive mode in normal situations and automatically applies power to the rear wheels when needed. It can also be locked, with up to 60 percent of the engine's torque supplied to the rear wheels for better off-road traction.

Every Compass comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine capable of 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional. With this engine and the CVT, a four-wheel-drive Compass we tested went from zero to 60 mph in a glacial 10.6 seconds -- and made a horrible droning racket while doing it. Fuel economy with the automatic and 4WD is 21 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. The manual or front-wheel drive improves these numbers by a few mpg.

Optional on the Compass Sport is a less powerful but more-fuel-efficient 2.0-liter four-cylinder. It makes 158 hp and 141 lb-ft of torque and comes only with the CVT and front-wheel drive. Fuel economy is 23/27/24 mpg.


Standard safety features include stability control with a rollover sensor, full-length side curtain airbags and traction control. Front-seat side airbags are optional. In government crash tests, the 2009 Jeep Compass received four out of five stars for frontal crash protection and five stars for side protection. When equipped with front side airbags, the Compass received the best rating of "Good" in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's side crash test, while a Compass without the side airbags got the second-worst "Marginal" rating.

Interior Design and Special Features

The endless blocky hard surfaces that fit together with all the exactness of build-it-yourself lawn furniture have thankfully been thrown into the dump for 2009. The new design features smoother surfaces and less abrasive plastic materials, while the armrest will no longer ding your funny bone. However, the Compass is still at the bottom of its class in terms of materials quality and construction. The switchgear remains the typical unimpressive stock Chrysler components, and the poorly shaped steering wheel doesn't seem designed for human hands. Also unchanged are the rock-hard front head restraints and flat, shapeless seats, along with the fixed rear head restraints and huge D-pillars that obstruct rear visibility.

The Compass offers a respectable number of useful storage slots, including an open bin on the passenger side of the dash.. It's also very easy to fold the rear seat flat, and fold-flat capability for the front-passenger seat (standard in the Limited, optional in the Sport) allows you to carry longer items inside the vehicle. The cargo area itself is small, though, measuring just 22.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 53.6 cubic feet with two people aboard, which is less than that of every other small SUV on the market.

Driving Impressions

Although 172 hp is pretty decent output for a four-cylinder engine, the 2009 Jeep Compass is slothlike during merging and passing maneuvers, especially when equipped with 4WD and the CVT. In addition, full-throttle acceleration results in the CVT holding the engine's rpm at redline, at which point both four-cylinders sound like aggravated cows. For these reasons, the manual is the better choice.

Compared to other small SUVs, the Compass is not the most relaxed highway cruiser. Although the ride is fairly comfortable over smooth blacktop, the cabin is not well isolated from wind and road noise (although more sound deadening for 2009 should help this somewhat). Around town, the Compass is a bit more enjoyable, as its large wheels and tires, direct steering and compact dimensions make it quite maneuverable. The Jeep's structure lacks rigidity, however, and it tends to flex and feel insubstantial when driven over broken pavement.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2009 jeep compass crysler

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Jeep Compass Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

after 150 000k; my vehicle kept stalling when it overheated; brought it Crysler service 4x; they could never fix the problem; I do not like it either that I couldn't check my transmission oil; had to bring it to the shop every time; I rate this vehicle close to a 1' I had changed oil every 5000 k; kept it well serviced; it still didn't do the job it should have; I had bought other vehicles from Chrysler; and this is a lemon; I have spoken to to a lot of people who own them and they too have the same problem. They are good for awhile; some go after 10 000 k; motor stopping others like mine go after 100 000. It is too bad; and I did like Chrysler.

A solid and reliable vehicle

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Jeep Compass Sport 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

Don't believe the reviews done by Edmunds - they must work for Honda or Toyota. This vehicle runs like a top and never gives me any problems.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Good vehicle all around

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Vehicle: 2009 Jeep Compass Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

I'll get the bad out of the way. The low profile tires that this model carries were kind of weak I suggest buying the next size up. I got some Hankook Optimo 727's at 215/65 44 pound tires 17'. They climb a lot better but you do lose 2 mpg it seems. I live in Pittsburgh I need the climbing ability in snow. The good stuff: 23-25 (I actually got 27 going to New York) miles ave. on the highway 20-22 in the city. That's awesome for a 4x4. She is better on gas than the Liberty and I feel equal or better in mud and snow than Liberty. I'm 6-3 with room still between my head and the top. My 6-6 friend has about an inch or two to spare. Mine does come with adjustable seats though.

Needs some work

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Vehicle: 2009 Jeep Compass Sport 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

Been driving my 2009 compass for 15 months. Been in the shop 3 times now for different issues/defects. passing is difficult, it has not "get up and go" !It's loud, my breaks have squeaked and ground since day one. It has not been reliable for me, and I will be trading mine in within the next few weeks!

15 months later

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Vehicle: 2009 Jeep Compass Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

After 15 months of driving as follows are some tips for potential buyer, I recommend a short term rental to try out (daily rental) and take close attention to the following, depending on your height and driving position this little truck may not be suitable for tall drivers ( 5'10"+ ), limited visibility due to A pillars, if you drive in a location where there are lots of pedestrians beware for posts completely block your side visibility, not sure if the patriot has the same issues but I have had several close calls, this also applies for rear view visibility and lane changes, this asides Compass is a good buy for the buck but would recommend the Patriot for any real Jeep enthusiast.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Great crossover

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Vehicle: 2009 Jeep Compass Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

I'm confused with why the "pros" don't like the Compass. It's a great crossover utility vehicle with plenty of room for those who don't need a large SUV, but are similarly disinterested in using a shoe horn to get in and out of an automobile. The fuel economy on my Compass has been mediocre at best, but the vehicle is fun to drive and I'm impressed by the safety features. I love my Jeep!

Talk About The 2009 Compass

2009 Jeep Compass Discussions See all Started By

Today, I went to Bob Howard Chrysler Jeep Dodge, on Sunday when the sales people are not there, of course, and found the row of 2009 Compass Sport 4x2s. They didn't have any Limiteds, nor did I see an...

To all '07 & '08 Compass owners who had experienced sun roof leaks,...

After about two model years since this post, seems there is indeed a 2009 Compass. I sat in one, and it's not so bad. I'm used to my velour seats and creature comforts via Toyota, but the plastics may...

Gas Mileage


  • 23
  • cty
  • 28
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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