2014 Jeep Compass Limited 4x4 SUV (2.4L 4-cyl. 4x4 6-speed Automatic)
A new 6-speed automatic transmission replaces the Continuously Variable Transmission(CVT) in most models, thankfully. Acceleration and driveability are both improved, yet the Compass still lags behind rivals in terms of refinement and fuel economy. While 4WD is available, this is not a true off-roader's Jeep.
PerformanceThe adoption of a new transmission improves the Compass' acceleration to 60 mph by almost one second, which is impressive, though still far from quick. The Compass steers well enough, but it has surprisingly low limits.
The 6-sp automatic helps the wheezy 2.4-liter 172-hp 4-cylinder get the Compass to 60 mph in 9.4 sec, similar to the Honda CR-V. But in most settings it feels underwhelming and the automatic is overly "shifty."
Significant nosedive with some instability during our panic-stop test, yet still a reasonable 60-0 distance of 121 feet. Around town the pedal action was linear and the brakes felt powerful enough.
Natural weighting, not too light or too heavy, turns in nicely for corners. But your hands never feel overly connected to the front tires, thanks to the syrupy sensation of the hydraulic assist.
The tires squeal early and the stability control cuts in often when driving at a moderately enthusiastic pace on backroads. The suspension system isn't exactly fantastic at handling mid-corner bumps.
The Compass needed to downshift from 6th gear to 4th to maintain 70 mph up our sustained grade. There are some problematic rear three-quarter views. Gas pedal and brakes operate smoothly.
With the Trailer Tow Prep group, the Compass can tow a maximum of 2,000 pounds. That's better than the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V, equal to the Kia Sportage.
When not equipped with the available low range and some other extra-cost off-road options, the Compass is only marginally better in the dirt than your average crossover SUV.
ComfortSeat comfort is a Compass strong suit, with all-day-capable seats front and rear. Unfortunately the ride is harsher than you'd expect, and the 4-cylinder engine is loud and buzzy.
The Limited's leather front seats are comfy, though the bolstered seatbacks could prove narrow for some. Good armrest placement. Rear seatbacks recline, have plenty of padding, but no fold-down center armrest.
Initially the Compass exhibits a soft ride. But once you start hitting actual bumps it gets bouncy and the shocks fail to smooth out the harshness. Suspension is noisy in operation. Not a good city vehicle.
Boomy inside at freeway speeds. Droney 4-cylinder gets loud above 3,000 rpm, vibrations come through steering wheel at 5,000 rpm. High degree of tire noise, some wind whistling at base of front windows.
InteriorSome improved interior materials here, particularly on the Limited model tested. But while most controls are easy to use, they still look/feel kinda cheap. Lengthy phone pairing, tight rear entryway will prove problematic for bigger folks.
Too many steps to pair phone, and system wouldn't read our iPod. Plain-looking gauges, small center stack screen, but heat/air knobs nice and large. Low-rent nav graphics. Steering wheel controls work well.
Perfect front step-in height and no worries about hitting head on roof. Rear doors don't open wide at all, tiny entryway. Tall rear side sills force you to lift feet up to get out.
Good door-side elbow room, decent headroom despite sunroof. Fairly slim center console doesn't hamper driver's right knee much. Excellent rear headroom, though door-side elbow room compromised by wheelwell.
Thick and long windshield pillars hurt ability to look through turns. Multiple posts make for challenging lane changes. Rearview camera with parking lines comes standard on Limited, but screen is small, no sonar.
No front bin, tiny door pockets, deep center bin is too rearward. The 22.7 cu-ft trunk is small for segment, but rear seats fold easily and front passenger seat folds flat. Hatch opens nice and high.
ValueThe Compass starts at $19,590, but keep in mind that's with the smaller 2.0-liter 4-cyl and a 5-speed manual transmission. Interior materials were improved for 2014, but it still has an air of cheapness. Fuel economy is below average.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Improved materials for 2014. This top-level trim has nice stitching and leather work but still plenty of hard-touch surfaces. The noisy suspension is disconcerting. The driver's seatback lever feels cheap as do interior buttons.
The top Compass Limited 4x4 starts at $28,790, with a backup camera, heated front seats, fold-flat front passenger seat, a leather steering wheel and satellite radio. Bluetooth and a USB port cost extra.
Our Compass Limited tester had options like the $1,295 Sun/Sound group with two flip-down hatch speakers that work well. Other options included Bluetooth and navigation, for an as-tested price of $31,370.
The EPA rates the Compass at 23 mpg Combined (21 City/27 Highway), below-average numbers for the segment. We averaged 22.0 mpg overall and 24.6 mpg on our 116-mile evaluation loop.
The Compass' 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty is average for the class, but the 5-yr/100,000-mi drivetrain coverage is better than most, other than the Kia Sportage's 10-yr/100,000-mi plan.
A 5-year/100,000-mile roadside assistance plan tops the major competitors, including the Kia Sportage. The Jeep doesn't offer a free maintenance plan, but neither do its main rivals.
Fun To DriveWithout true off-road capabilities, there's little about the Compass that screams "fun-to-drive." It doesn't even hint at it. On-road limits are low and the weak and wheezy four-cylinder does nothing to get you excited. Ever.
There's too much engine noise and suspension harshness. Rivals like the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Kia Sportage and Subaru XV Crosstrek will offer better experiences for most people.
The funky styling of the Compass isn't doing it any favors. We appreciate the fold-down hatch speakers and the rear pop-out flashlight, but really the Compass needs to be a better-driving vehicle to be competitive.
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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2014 Jeep Compass Suv in VA is:
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