2012 Jeep Compass Review

Pros & Cons

  • Low price
  • reasonably capable off-road when properly equipped
  • available flip-down tailgate speakers.
  • Sluggish acceleration
  • disappointing fuel economy
  • limited cargo space compared to rivals.
List Price Range
$6,000 - $14,295

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

Vehicle overview

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.

2012 Jeep Compass models

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.

2012 Highlights

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.

Performance & mpg

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.

Safety

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 Jeep Compass.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

The Little 4x4 that Could
Jeepmakemehappy,02/06/2016
Latitude 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl CVT)
I have owned my Jeep Compass for a little over 1 year. I purchased my 2012 Jeep Compass after driving my Buick Enclave down the wrong road and the hill was too steep to drive it out. Yes, large towing bill. I decided to buy a 4x4. I looked at most brands. Nissan, GMC/Chevy, Ford, you name it. I was looking for comfort (I drive a lot), best gas mileage possible (from a 4x4), and overall enjoyable to work in. A sales rep called me about a trade they just made on a 2012 jeep compass. So I took it for a test-drive, after 1-mile, I did not feel any tension in my lower back and I can spend all day in and out of this jeep. It handled great, the acceleration was sluggish from take-off, but with manual options, I have compensated. Other than take-off, passing gear works great. The real test game when I had an inspection of a property with a real steep muddy driveway. It had been raining for days and the driveway was a mud puddle. Here goes nothing and a possible 400+ tow bill if I bought the wrong car. I made it down, now I have to go back up. The truth is, I never slid uphill before, I put the shift in manual, keep in it low, stepped on the gas and went up that hill like an off-road racing champ (in my own eyes). The driveway curved twice so I slide around them and made it uphill, got out of the Jeep and did my celebration dance. I have since been up and down similar roads with ease. My jeep has auto-start, Bluetooth, satellite radio, upgraded sound system, heated cloth seats, standard plug-in, Freedom package II, and a flashlight. Please do not just go by the Edmonds.com review. It has been an enjoyable, reliable vehicle, that I hope to keep around.
Love My Compass!
polarbare49,06/16/2012
Latitude 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl CVT)
After doing 4 months of extensive research on various small SUVs, the Compass Lattitude 4x4 proved to be the best value for my dollar. Love the new 'baby Grand Cherokee' design. Decent gas mileage with surprisingly more power than I was lead to believe from reading the expert reviews. Handles like a car but still has the solid build of a Jeep SUV. All in all, IMHO, beats the Rav4,
Fits my needs perfectly
wmillonig,05/26/2012
Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl CVT)
After 2 months and 2k miles, am ready to give you observations. They're almost all good, I've been been very happy so far. Fit & Finish is fine and I've had no issues at all during the break-in period. I chose this over a comparably equipped 2012 Ford Escape. Would I buy another someday? Probably, but if they gave it better thigh support? Definitely!!
Great small family vehicle
ek900,08/28/2012
Sport 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
The birth of our son got the clock ticking on my wife's Mini Cooper, and about a month ago, we traded it on a Jeep Compass Sport (FWD, 5spd., 2.4L engine). While the Jeep was a great value, it really compares well to similarly-sized SUVs (Ford Escape, Subaru Forrester). It isn't a performance vehicle, but some of its features are really well thought out. The rear cargo light/flashlight has already come in handy, and the two-level storage in the armrest is very nice. It also also has done very well with gas. We've averaged over 26 mpg for the first 2,000 miles, better than we expected. This little Jeep is not the most refined car we've ever owned, but it is an impressive package.

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 2012 Jeep Compass

Used 2012 Jeep Compass Overview

The Used 2012 Jeep Compass is offered in the following submodels: Compass SUV. Available styles include Latitude 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl CVT), Sport 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 5M), Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 5M), Latitude 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl CVT), Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl CVT), and Limited 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl CVT).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Jeep Compass?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Jeep Compass trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Jeep Compass Latitude is priced between $6,000 and$14,295 with odometer readings between 42740 and137714 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Jeep Compass Sport is priced between $6,900 and$9,999 with odometer readings between 56324 and104599 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Jeep Compass Limited is priced between $9,495 and$9,495 with odometer readings between 104948 and104948 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2012 Jeep Compasses are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Jeep Compass for sale near. There are currently 7 used and CPO 2012 Compasses listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,000 and mileage as low as 42740 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Jeep Compass.

Can't find a used 2012 Jeep Compasss you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Jeep Compass for sale - 4 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $15,105.

Find a used Jeep for sale - 8 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $22,154.

Find a used certified pre-owned Jeep Compass for sale - 11 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $17,339.

Find a used certified pre-owned Jeep for sale - 8 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $13,516.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 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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