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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Low price
  • good fuel economy
  • all-wheel drive
  • available flip-down tailgate speakers.
  • Unimpressive powertrain
  • limited cargo space compared to rivals.

The 2011 Jeep Compass is the most affordable vehicle in this growing category of entry-level utility vehicles, but it's still far better with more options rather than fewer.

Vehicle overview

We have to give Jeep credit for trying harder this year. Nearly all of the improvements seen in the 2011 Jeep Compass are related to issues about which we've previously griped. Plastic-fantastic interior? Jeep has added soft-touch materials to the cabin. Not worthy of a Jeep badge? Now there's an off-road package with low-range gearing. Too-cute styling? This year's updated sheet metal includes a Grand Cherokee-style front end and additional chrome flourishes that make for a notably more upscale appearance.

At the same time, the Compass still lacks the refinement it needs to keep pace with other vehicles in this increasingly popular category of crossover utility vehicles. Developed from the Dodge Caliber platform just like the Dodge Patriot (and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport as well), the Compass has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine at its command, much like all the vehicles in this category. But it also has a continuously variable transmission (CVT) all its own, and this choice makes the engine seem noisy and unrefined even as it boasts both improved acceleration and better fuel economy.

While the new steering wheel, soft-touch door trim and a vastly improved visual presentation help the cabin of the Compass set itself apart from its competition, this Jeep is about style, not necessarily comfort. Outward visibility is still an issue with the Compass' small windows, while the seats aren't entirely comfortable.

Nevertheless, the recalibration of the Compass as a 4WD vehicle makes sense to us. Its prime attributes become utility and mobility, instead of carlike comfort and refinement, and this matches not only Jeep's brand image but also the character of the Compass itself.

Hiking, camping and other outdoor sports enthusiasts should know that the Compass does have an advantage over its rivals thanks to the newly available off-road package that includes all the requisite hardware to earn Jeep's "Trail Rated" moniker. Aggressive all-terrain tires, a low range for the transmission and skid plates provide a unique measure of rugged capability not seen elsewhere in this segment of soft-roaders.

While off-road credentials give the 2011 Jeep Compass some authenticity, it's fair to say this vehicle is still fighting to discover its identity. As a passenger package, it's affordable, fuel-efficient and easy to drive, yet not entirely refined. As an off-road utility vehicle, it has all-wheel drive and a tractable engine, yet it's not as rugged as a Jeep Liberty. Alternatives include the 2011 Honda CR-V, 2011 Hyundai Tucson, 2011 Kia Sportage, 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, 2011 Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4.

2011 Jeep Compass models

The 2011 Jeep Compass is a five-passenger compact SUV available in base and Limited trim levels.

Standard equipment on the base Compass includes 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, foglamps, heated sideview mirrors, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel and a four-speaker stereo with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. The Latitude package adds heated front seats, driver seat height adjuster, a fold-flat front passenger seat, reclining rear seats, a 115-volt auxiliary power point and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.

The Limited includes all the preceding features and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, exterior chrome accents, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a trip computer, automatic climate control, a power driver seat, leather upholstery, satellite radio and an in-dash six-CD changer.

There are several packages available on both trims. The Security and Cargo Convenience Group adds a security alarm, front side airbags, a cargo cover, an auto-dimming rearview mirror (base), a trip computer (base), a USB port (Limited) and Uconnect voice command with Bluetooth (Limited). Remote start is also included if the vehicle is equipped with the CVT.

The Sun and Sound Group adds upgraded speakers (including a pair that flip and face outward from the opened tailgate), a sunroof and, for the base model, satellite radio. The Media Center option adds a hard-drive-based navigation system, digital music storage and a USB audio jack.

The Freedom-Drive II Off-Road package includes active 4WD, a low-range mode for the CVT, engine oil cooler, hill ascent/descent assist, 17-inch alloy wheels, all-terrain tires, skid plates, tow hooks, a driver seat height adjuster and all-season floor mats.

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2011 Highlights

For 2011 the Jeep Compass has been refreshed with updated styling as well as improvements in handling dynamics and interior quality. An Off-Road package with low-range gearing, increased ride height, all-terrain tires and skid plates also gives the Compass legitimate off-road ability.

Performance & mpg

Front-wheel drive is standard on the 2011 Jeep Compass, while a four-wheel-drive system is optional. The Freedom Drive I 4WD system operates in front-wheel-drive mode in normal situations and automatically applies power to the rear wheels when needed. It can also be locked in 4WD mode, with up to 60 percent of the engine's torque sent to the rear wheels for better off-road traction. The Freedom Drive II Off-Road package includes a low-range mode for the CVT to further improve mobility.

Every Compass except the base front-wheel-drive version comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine; this engine is optional on the base Compass. The 2.4 makes 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a CVT is optional. In Edmunds testing of a 2011 Jeep Compass Limited 4X4 equipped with the CVT (Freedom Drive I), the 3,405-pound vehicle accelerated to 60 mph from a standstill in 10.3 seconds and reached the quarter-mile in 17.6 seconds at 80.5 mph. EPA-rated fuel economy for the Compass is 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. With the five-speed manual, it's capable of 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. A front-wheel-drive Compass with the 2.4-liter engine and CVT can achieve 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.

Available only on the front-wheel-drive base Compass, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 158 hp and 141 lb-ft of torque and offers the same transmission choices as the 2.4. EPA-rated fuel economy ratings stand at 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with a manual transmission and 23 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with the CVT.

Safety

Standard safety features include stability control with a rollover sensor, full-length side curtain airbags and traction control. Front-seat side airbags are optional.

The Jeep Compass has not been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash-testing procedures. Its 2010 ratings (which aren't comparable to the new tests) were four out of five stars for frontal-impact crash protection and five stars for side-impact protection.

In Edmunds testing, a Compass Limited 4X4 on Firestone Firehawk GTA 215/55R18 tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet.

Driving

Even with the larger 2.4-liter engine, the 2011 Jeep Compass feels sluggish during merging and passing maneuvers, especially when equipped with 4WD and the power-sapping CVT. It's also quite noisy. This is related to the characteristics of the CVT rather than the engine. The Compass has received a thorough makeover of its suspension for 2011 and rides with improved stability and poise, but it might be too lively for some.

Interior

The Compass sports an improved cabin this year, with a more comfortable steering wheel and soft-touch material on the front doors and console armrest. We generally found seat comfort unimpressive, however.

The Compass offers some useful storage spaces, including an open bin on the passenger side of the dash. The rear seatbacks fold flat, and fold-flat capability for the front passenger seatback (standard on Limited, optional on base) allows you to carry longer items inside.

The cargo area itself is a couple cubic feet smaller than the competition, measuring 22.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 53.6 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2011 Jeep Compass SUV.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.75 out of 5 stars
Just Purchased 2011 Compass and Lovin' it!!
ckeyes3,05/31/2011
Limited 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl CVT)
The 2011 Compass is a great car for the price! I also purchased the excellent extended warrantly that covers everything for as long as I own the car. There is also a decent manufacturer warranty when you purchase brand new. My Compass is loaded with all sorts of cool features to include: Cruise, heated seats, mp3 port, Sirius Satellite Radio, Bose sound system, lighted cup holders, plug-in coverter, TPM system, sunroof, and fold down seats.
1.5 out of 5 stars
A total nightmare
joshregenold,01/29/2013
Limited 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl CVT)
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.
3.13 out of 5 stars
HOT LOOKING, BUT SMALL
outwardlycheap,06/06/2011
Limited 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl CVT)
This car is one of the best looking on the road, but the driver's area is severely cramped, no room for the right knee, cannot steer with right hand because armrest is too far away, and no matter what anybody says, the engine IS noisy! I gave it to my wife.
4.75 out of 5 stars
Excellent Choice 2011 Jeep Compass
pete131,05/23/2011
Limited 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl CVT)
I bought my 2011 jeep Compass 2 months ago. I absolutely love this Jeep. I was looking for an SUV to pull my Jet Ski, and pulls it effertlessly, and after looking at many SUV's in this catagory, the jeep Compass offered the most for the money. Other SUV's were thousands more. The redesign looks awesome. The inside is also very nice. I got the 2.4 L engine with the CVT, and the engine noise is not what reviews say, it is not noisy. The CVT is smooth. This vehicle does have enough power and is great on gas. (27 mpg) highway city is (21). It is fun to drive also. The Cargo area is good also. This is not a sports car or a truck, with that having been said, I love this new 2011 Jepp Compass.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover18.5%

More about the 2011 Jeep Compass
More About This Model

The bet was simple: There was no way that the restyled 2011 Jeep Compass could make it through the advanced off-road course designed for the more capable Wrangler and Grand Cherokee. After all, this snow-covered trail offered some of the hairiest features we've witnessed on a press drive: slippery boulders, axle-twisting off-camber obstacles, plus steep drops and deep holes certain to remove the lesser Jeep's bumpers or underbody.

And we'd already proven, on the easier course, that the Compass was operating at the ragged edge of its off-road ability when we slammed it quite ungracefully up a mud-covered embankment just to prove we could. The Compass made it, but it wasn't pretty.

This was before we met Brian Nathan, chief engineer of the 2011 Jeep Compass. Nathan promised us the Compass would "walk right through" the advanced course. And then, with us at the wheel, he proved it.

We stopped betting.

Genuinely Capable
All this gambling was set in the snow-covered wonderland of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In December. It was wet and cold and muddy — far from the highly coddled, over-managed environment that accompanies most media introductions. This was about testing the vehicles, not sipping tea and discussing nuances. Heck, we even ate lunch in a barn with visible owl scat on the walls. Take that, Land Rover.

That Jeep was confident enough in the Compass to offer it with its Trail Rated designation for 2011 speaks highly of the often-overlooked SUV. The new option is called the Freedom Drive II Off Road package and it adds an inch of ground clearance, 17-inch all-terrain tires, a full-size spare tire, skid plates, tow hooks and a few other items. Most importantly, there's now a low-range mode for the continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a crawl ratio equivalent to 19.1:1.

The manually operated electronically locking center differential remains. Front and rear differentials are mechanically open units, but Jeep's brake-lock technology, which applies the brakes independently to a spinning wheel, effectively redirects power during wheel-lift situations like we encountered above.

And as much as we'd like to call Jeep on this one, we're reminded that Trail Rated isn't just marketing hype. It has its origin in the Nevada Automotive Test Center, which established the five criteria (traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation and water fording) and a formula to combine them to determine the worthiness of off-road vehicles for the U.S. government. Jeep now owns the rights to the Trail Rated label, but the standards remain.

Same Power, New CVT
Our test car is an all-wheel-drive Compass Latitude fitted with the biggest available engine, a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder mated to a CVT. This particular CVT — known as the CVT2L thanks to its low-range ratio — is available only on all-wheel-drive Compasses with the 2.4-liter engine. It's offered as part of the Off Road package. The engine is rated at 172 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 165 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm and can also be matched with either a five-speed manual or a conventional CVT (with no low-range ratio) in either front- or all-wheel drive.

Also available on front-drive base and Latitude style Compasses is a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder rated at 158 hp and 141 lb-ft of torque. It comes with either a five-speed manual transmission or the CVT2.

Fuel economy varies widely depending on powertrain configuration. Our 2011 Jeep Compass test car, with the low-range CVT, additional inch of ground clearance and all-terrain tires, is rated at 20 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, making it the least efficient Compass available. The most efficient, the front-drive model with the smaller engine and five-speed manual transaxle is rated at 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. All other styles fall somewhere in between.

Slow but Steady
Our all-wheel-drive tester, loaded with three people and burdened with a 6,200-foot test altitude, lacked the power to spin its tires from a standing start on a snow-covered road. The message here is clear: This isn't a Subaru WRX — or even a Forester for that matter. Its powertrain isn't designed for low-grip, high-speed shenanigans. But what the Compass lacks in power, it makes up for in off-road capability.

It's also no Wrangler. Sure, it was able to walk through the not-inconsiderable off-road route we navigated, but the 2011 Jeep Compass lacks the wheel articulation, crawl ratio, grip and impressive approach and departure angles of its dedicated off-road brother. We wouldn't be afraid to use the Compass to access a somewhat remote fishing hole but don't plan on taking it to Moab for the Easter Jeep Safari.

On the road the base Compass' manners are on par for the segment. Higher-rate springs, dampers and a larger rear antiroll bar keep it from bouncing over Wyoming frost heaves at freeway speeds — something the old Compass was fond of doing. But you're still going to need to plan ahead when hard acceleration is required — especially at altitude.

Genuinely Better-Looking, Too
And in a move sure to sour some 2011 Grand Cherokee owners, the 2011 Jeep Compass wears virtually all-new sheet metal, which closely resembles its bigger, more expensive, more capable counterpart.

There's a new hood, fenders, front and rear fascias and a body-color spoiler. Black lower-body cladding designed to protect against rocks and debris when off-roading is also new this year. Perhaps most significant, the Compass is no longer such a homely little pug.

Inside, things are better still. In the you're-going-to-touch-this-everyday-so-you-better-like-it department is a new, thick-rimmed steering wheel with integrated radio, cruise control and hands-free phone controls. It makes a difference. It's so good, in fact, that it makes us forget that this very same Compass once had a noodly, circular scrap of rawhide plastic with which to manage directional changes. New materials on the door panel and a new armrest go a long way toward improving the otherwise unchanged interior as well.

There's also an iPod interface and optional AM/FM/CD/DVD audio system with a 30GB hard disc drive. Navigation is available only on Limited styles. We weren't expecting such minor changes to elevate the whole interior of the Compass, but they do. It's not quite a mini-Grand Cherokee, but it's not the penalty box it once was either.

The Bottom Line
A Compass Latitude outfitted with the 2.4-liter engine, CVT, Off Road package and Security and Convenience package will lighten your bank account to the tune of $26,195 including destination (base price is $23,295). About $1,550 of that is thanks to the Off Road package, which requires the CVT ($1,050) and the Freedom Drive II package ($500).

That's no small chunk of change, but at least Jeep is delivering a competitive package in return. And we say this not only because it looks 10,000 times better than the previous version, but because it is now authentically competitive within its admittedly narrow segment. Its interior look and feels — dare we say it — nice.

What's more, its newfound off-road abilities expand the 2011 Jeep Compass' repertoire far beyond its previous capabilities. It's now legitimately capable of moving over moderate off-road terrain with ease, which is something you won't do in, say, a Subaru Forester.

It's enough to make it entertaining in the rough stuff, and it might even win you a few bets.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored press event to facilitate this report.

Used 2011 Jeep Compass SUV Overview

The Used 2011 Jeep Compass SUV is offered in the following styles: 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 5M), 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 5M), Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl CVT), and Limited 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl CVT). Pre-owned Jeep Compass SUV models are available with a 2.4 L-liter gas engine or a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 172 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2011 Jeep Compass SUV comes with four wheel drive, and front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual, continuously variable-speed automatic. The Used 2011 Jeep Compass SUV comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2011 Jeep Compass SUV?

Price comparisons for Used 2011 Jeep Compass SUV trim styles:

  • The Used 2011 Jeep Compass SUV Base is priced between $4,995 and$8,900 with odometer readings between 117999 and133163 miles.
  • The Used 2011 Jeep Compass SUV Limited is priced between $10,990 and$10,990 with odometer readings between 116976 and116976 miles.

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Used 2011 Jeep Compass SUV Listings and Inventory

There are currently 5 used and CPO 2011 Jeep Compass SUVS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $4,995 and mileage as low as 116976 miles. Simply research the type of used car you're interested in and then select a prew-owned vehicle from our massive database to find cheap used cars for sale near you. Once you have identified a used or CPO vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2011 Jeep Compass SUV.

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2011 Jeep Compass SUV for sale near you.

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Should I lease or buy a 2011 Jeep Compass?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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