Full 2014 Jeep Compass Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Jeep Compass receives a newly optional six-speed automatic transmission that replaces the much-maligned CVT in most models. A minor styling update inside and out is also new, as are a rearview camera and an upgraded audio system for the Limited trim. Front-seat side airbags are now standard across the lineup.
Compact crossovers have to cover a lot of ground. They need to be able to carry your mountain bike at a moment's notice. They need to offer enough all-terrain capability to get you to work during a snowstorm. They need to be roomy and comfortable for you and a couple of kids. They need to offer a semblance of style along with a decent number of tech features. Yet for all that, we're not willing to pay that much for them. The 2014 Jeep Compass is an example of a budget crossover that tries to check every box while keeping the bottom line low.
First off, it's a Jeep, and Jeeps are known for off-road supremacy. The Compass does have quite a bit more all-terrain capability than most other compact crossover SUVs, but that only comes about when you add some extra-cost features. And even if so equipped, it's a good bet you'll be calling your friend with a Wrangler to pull you out of a ditch if you attempt anything really challenging. And so like most other small crossovers, the Jeep Compass is mainly intended to give you enough traction and ground clearance to get to work after a snowstorm.
This year's new six-speed automatic transmission promises better fuel economy and acceleration than the continuously variable transmission (CVT) offered in years past, and we'll report on the extent of the improvements as soon as we test a 2014 Jeep Compass with this transmission. Unfortunately, you're still forced to get the underwhelming CVT when you opt for the 2014 Compass' off-roading features. And even with the automatic, the Compass' fuel economy figures are still unimpressive compared with those of other small crossover SUVs. Ride quality is another challenge for the Jeep, as its highway ride is harsher than competitors in this class.
We'll update this review as soon as we test a 2014 Jeep Compass, but in the meantime, it's certainly worthwhile to explore all your options in the compact crossover SUV class. If enhanced off-road capabilities in a small crossover are a must-have, we'd suggest taking a look at the all-new Subaru Forester or Subaru XV Crosstrek. For the majority of SUV owners who rarely, if ever, leave the pavement, the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage and Toyota RAV4 are some of the best choices in this class.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
A five-passenger small crossover SUV, the 2014 Jeep Compass is available in three trim levels: Sport, Latitude and Limited.
Standard features for the Sport include 16-inch alloy wheels (17-inch wheels if optioned with the larger 2.4-liter engine), foglights, roof rails, air-conditioning, cruise control, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, a tilt-only steering wheel, a 115-volt household power outlet and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The optional Power Value Group adds full power accessories, heated mirrors, keyless entry and additional body-color exterior pieces.
The Latitude gets the above features as standard and adds chrome exterior and interior trim, mesh cloth seat upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a fold-flat front passenger seat, heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.
The range-topping Limited includes 18-inch wheels, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a power driver seat with lumbar adjustments, a driver information display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, 28GB of digital music storage and satellite radio.
The Freedom Drive II Off-Road group can be added to all four-wheel-drive trims. It includes 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, tow hooks, an off-road driving mode, an engine oil cooler, underbody skid plates, a full-size spare tire, hill-descent control, hill-start assist and a height-adjustable driver seat for the Sport trim.
The Latitude and Limited trims are eligible for the Security and Cargo Convenience group. On the Latitude this adds the auto-dimming rearview mirror, a security alarm and the driver information display. The Limited's version of this option group also includes remote start, an audio system USB port and Bluetooth. Jeep also offers Bluetooth and the USB port bundled as a separate option for all trim levels.
Also offered on the top trims is the Sun and Sound group (a sunroof, an upgraded nine-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system, two flip-down tailgate speakers and satellite radio for the Latitude trim) and the Trailer Tow Prep group (oil cooler, trailer tow wiring harness and full-size spare). A navigation system is available only on the Limited trim.
Powertrains and Performance
In front-wheel-drive Sport and Latitude trims, the 2014 Jeep Compass is outfitted with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 158 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque. Optional on the front-wheel-drive Sport and Latitude is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 172 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque. This engine is standard on all-wheel-drive models and all Compass Limited models.
A five-speed manual transmission is standard for the Sport, while the Latitude and Limited receive a new six-speed automatic as standard. The EPA estimates fuel economy for the 2.0-liter engine with front-wheel drive and the automatic to be 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. Sticking with the manual boosts these numbers a bit to 23/30/26.
The front-drive Compass with the 2.4-liter engine and automatic is no different from the 2.0 at 21/28/24 mpg. But again, there's a slight boost for the manual here, and it rises to 23/28/25. With four-wheel drive and the 2.4, you're looking at 21/27/23 with the automatic and 23/28/25 with the manual.
The optional Freedom Drive II Group provides a more serious 4WD system with low-range gearing and hill-descent control, but requires that you also select the available 2.4-liter engine and CVT. With the CVT, fuel economy is quite poor at 20/23/21.
Standard safety features for all 2014 Jeep Compass models include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is included with the Limited trim and available on others. The Freedom Drive II Off-Road group adds hill-descent and hill-start control.
In Edmunds brake testing, a 4WD Compass Limited came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet, which is slightly better than average for this class of vehicle.
Interior Design and Special Features
Compared with other compact crossovers, the 2014 Jeep Compass is relatively roomy for front-seat occupants. Taller rear-seat passengers, on the other hand, may find legroom tight. Jeep has upgraded the interior materials for the 2014 model year, but Bluetooth and a USB port, which come standard on most rivals, remain optional even on the upper trim levels.
The Compass does sport some clever features, such as a cooled glovebox, 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 enhance outdoor listening. At 62.7 cubic feet, the Compass' maximum cargo capacity is respectable. It's considerably more than the Subaru XV Crosstrek's 51.9 cubic feet and slightly less than the Escape's 66.3 cubes.
We have yet to test the 2014 Jeep Compass with the new six-speed automatic transmission, and we'll update this review as soon as we do. Unfortunately, that CVT is still required if you choose the Freedom Drive II off-road option. With the CVT, the engine makes all manner of unsavory noises, and both performance and fuel economy are lackluster.
In addition, compared to its newer rivals in this class, the Compass doesn't ride as smoothly, and in spite of its compact dimensions, it doesn't steer or handle particularly well, either. Either of the 2014 Jeep Compass' AWD systems will handle winter roads slicked by heavy rains and snow, and the base AWD/4WD system is all most crossover buyers really need.