2012 Jeep Compass SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Jeep Compass SUV

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Jeep Compass Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission CVT Automatic
  • Horse Power 158 hp @ 6400 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 23/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Jeep Compass

  • The 2012 Jeep Compass is one of the most affordable off-road-capable vehicles on the market, but it's still not as refined as many of its compact SUV competitors.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Low price; reasonably capable off-road when properly equipped; available flip-down tailgate speakers.

  • Cons

    Sluggish acceleration; disappointing fuel economy; limited cargo space compared to rivals.

  • What's New for 2012

    For 2012, the Jeep Compass is now available in three different trim levels. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) has also been recalibrated for better performance.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (17 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

Worst jeep ever

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Jeep Compass

I was forced into purchasing a 201 compass brand new in 2011. I have three kids, they do not fit in back seat, they are so cramped! not to mention the whole thing is just small! I've had to take it in because if a noise turn out front lower arm controls were broke, they replaced them they were under warranty, the day after I got them fixed I'm not lying I backed out of my drive way and it sounded like plastic cracking in a million pieces, and then there was the creaking noise again! so I'm assumeing it's the arm controls again! I've been to busy to have it fixed but I can tell steering is bad and every time I hit bump I hear the creaking. hate this car!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

A total nightmare

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Jeep Compass

This Jeep Compass has been, without a doubt, the worst car I've ever owned. Major issues include: 1. A new transmission at 30k miles, all on the highway; paid for by Chrysler at least 2. Two new sets of struts within the first 30k miles 3. Brakes audibly squeak 100% of the time at 35k miles 4. Weather striping replaced at 20k miles, road and wind noise are both still unbearable 5. Both of the front doors are rattle traps 6. The stereo faceplate fell off at 10k miles These vehicles also drop like a rock in value, much moreso than others in this class.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

I love it

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Jeep Compass

I would like to say I am Very Happy with my Purchase. I bought the 2wd 2.0 5Spd Manual. I have been through 3 tanks of gas. I do not count the 1st one because I do not know if the dealership actually fill it all the way. But on the 2nd and 3rd tanks I got 30.1MPG and 30.9mpg (done with manual calculations miles/gallons). I love it. Hope it just keeps getting better. I drive about 90% highway, 65MPH or less. I also have a ScanGaugeII That helps in Drive technique. So I will probably improve the MPG some. I chose this because of the bang for the buck. Compared to others you get a lot for your money.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Back in the jeep family

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Jeep Compass

I had a Jeep Liberty for 9 years and loved it except the gas mileage. We let my daughter take it to college and we brought a foreign brand SUV. I had a terrible time parking and backing up. We were going to purchase a car when we saw the 2011 Jeep Compass and liked the looks. We took it for a test drive and loved it.....it felt like back home with the Jeep Family. It is a program vehicle with 14,000 miles. We get 24.7 MPG which is better than my 19.3 on the foreign brand SUV. I'm happy and when Mamma is happy.....Everyone is HAPPY!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Outstanding in snow

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Jeep Compass

I've had this vehicle since spring, so I never got a chance to drive it in snow or on slippery roads. We finally had a serious snow storm and I have to say this Compass is outstanding! No slipping, sliding, great traction. Simply amazing all the way around. It's also been 100% totally reliable since day one. I'm very pleased.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Go with the automatic :()

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Jeep Compass

I went with the manual tranny which I regret. The low torgue requires you to bump up the rpm's quite a bit to get this thing going. Once going it's fairly responsive as long as you keep the tach above 1800 or so. If you shift at or above around 3200 or so, you feel a LOT of vibration coming back thru the clutch pedal and the reverse gear seems to have been delivered with some rough teeth - sounds like you are grinding hamburger if you go very far in reverse. Handling on the other hand is very good. It's fun to corner with this rig and it stays very flat. It's quite on decent roads and rides comfortably. The center armrest is too short and cumbersome (it moves fore and aft).

Gas Mileage


  • 23
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Jeep Compass Review

What's New for 2012

For 2012, the Jeep Compass is now available in three different trim levels. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) has also been recalibrated for better performance.


Compared to its two-dozen competitors, the 2012 Jeep Compass is a compact crossover that continues to search for its direction. Built on the same car-based underpinnings as the Dodge Caliber, the Compass has always seemed to be caught between two worlds. The homely little trucklette was neither refined enough to compete with suburban runabouts like the Honda CR-V in everyday driving, nor rugged enough for serious off-road escapades.

Last year's makeover certainly improved the Compass, starting with a more handsome look reminiscent of the brand's Grand Cherokee flagship. Better quality materials in a few key areas also helped mitigate the interior's cut-rate feel. Finally, the addition of an available Off-Road option package gave it increased four-wheeling potential with an inch of additional ground clearance, all-terrain tires, skid plates and a four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing.

Taken together, all these changes have helped the 2012 Jeep Compass chart a course toward the heart of the crowded compact crossover segment. However, that doesn't mean it's reached its destination, as it's still far from being on even footing with the best small SUVs on the market. Notable weaknesses remain, including lackluster powertrains that fall short in terms of acceleration, fuel economy and overall refinement.

As such, we'd recommend checking out the Compass' many competitors. If it's true off-road capability you're after, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler and 2012 Nissan Xterra are worth a look. For around-town use, the 2012 Honda CR-V, 2012 GMC Terrain, 2012 Kia Sportage and 2012 Subaru Forester (just to name a few) all offer all-wheel drive for increased traction in bad weather with much better handling, performance and refinement in everyday driving.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Jeep Compass is a five-passenger compact SUV that's offered in three new trim levels: Sport, Latitude and Limited.

Standard equipment on the entry-level Sport model includes 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, heated mirrors, roof rails, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, a tilt-only steering wheel and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.

Stepping up to the midrange Latitude model gets you heated front seats, a height-adjustable driver seat, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a reclining rear seat, a household-style 115-volt auxiliary power point and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.

The top-of-the-line Limited trim level adds the larger 2.4-liter engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a trip computer, satellite radio and a six-CD changer.

The Latitude and Limited models are available with a number of different packages. The Security and Cargo Convenience Group adds front seat side-impact airbags (available separately on Sport), a cargo cover, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a trip computer, remote ignition (not available with manual transmission), a USB audio jack and Bluetooth (available separately on all trim levels). The Sun and Sound Group includes a sunroof and a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics audio system (available separately) with two speakers that flip down from the raised liftgate. The Media Center 430 option adds a touchscreen interface, digital music storage and a USB audio jack. A navigation system with real-time traffic and other information can be added to this on the Limited trim.

The Freedom-Drive II Off-Road Group available on all trims with four-wheel drive includes an upgraded four-wheel-drive system, a low-range mode for the transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, all-terrain tires, skid plates, tow hooks, an engine oil cooler, hill descent control, hill start assist, and on the Sport, a height-adjustable driver seat.

Powertrains and Performance

Every front-wheel-drive 2012 Jeep Compass Sport and Latitude model comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 158 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the Sport. A CVT is optional on the Sport and standard on the Latitude. Fuel economy estimates range from 23 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined with the manual to 23/27/24 with the CVT.

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 172 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque is standard on the Limited and all four-wheel-drive Compasses. It is optional on the others. The transmission choices are the same as with the 2.0-liter, with the Limited getting the CVT standard. Fuel economy ranges from a decent 23/28/25 with the manual and front-wheel drive to a pretty dismal 20/23/21 with the CVT and four-wheel drive.

Front-wheel drive is standard across the Compass lineup. Of the two available four-wheel-drive options, the light-duty "Freedom Drive I" system operates in front-wheel-drive mode under normal conditions and automatically sends power to the rear wheels only when needed. The "Freedom Drive II" Off-Road package includes a low-range mode for the CVT that makes it much more capable on the trail.

In Edmunds testing, a four-wheel-drive (Freedom Drive I) Compass with the 2.4-liter engine and CVT accelerated to 60 mph from a standstill in a leisurely 10.3 seconds. Properly equipped, the Compass can tow trailers up to 2,000 pounds.


Standard safety features on the 2012 Jeep Compass include stability control with a rollover sensor, full-length side curtain airbags and traction control. Antilock brakes are standard on every Compass; however, the front-wheel-drive Sport and Latitude come with rear drums whereas the other trims get rear discs. Front-seat side-impact airbags are optional.

In Edmunds brake testing, a four-wheel-drive Compass Limited came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet.

Interior Design and Special Features

The passenger cabin of the 2012 Jeep Compass received a minor makeover last year and now sports better-quality materials in key spots like the front doors and the armrest between the front seats. Still, the Compass still feels a bit downmarket compared to its many rivals. Also, the front seats still aren't all that comfortable and legroom is scarce for rear seat passengers.

The interior does have a couple of neat features including a rechargeable LED cargo light that pops out for use as a flashlight, and optional speakers that flip down and out from the raised liftgate to play tunes during your tailgate party.

However, tailgaters will find that the cargo hold is on the small side, with 22.7 cubic feet of space behind the 60/40-split rear seats, and it expands to just 53.6 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down. This is only a little less than in smaller compact crossovers like the Kia Sportage, but bigger ones like the CR-V and Forester top 70 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

When it comes to drivability, the 2012 Jeep Compass' performance is hampered by its powertrains. Even the larger 2.4-liter four-cylinder delivers lackluster acceleration, especially when mated to the noisy CVT. The suspension gives the trucklette ride and handling qualities that are just passable. Together, these shortcomings lead us to suggest that potential buyers carefully compare its road manners with some of the better car-based crossovers out there before signing on the dotted line. Should you be looking for some off-roading potential, the Nissan Xterra would be a more capable choice.

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