2018 Jeep Compass

2018 Jeep Compass Review

The 2018 Jeep Compass can be a compact family hauler or a capable off-roading machine.
7.3 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
by Calvin Kim
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Compared to the previous-generation Jeep Compass, the 2018 Compass is vastly improved. Introduced midway through the 2017 model year, the newest Compass is more comfortable to drive and can be fitted with Jeep's latest in-car technology features such as the easy-to-operate Uconnect infotainment system.

The Compass occupies an interesting spot in Jeep's lineup. It's smaller and more affordable than Jeep's Cherokee crossover SUV but bigger and more capable than the Renegade. This could be the sweet spot for a lot of shoppers. The Compass offers a decent 27 cubic feet of rear luggage space. Fold down the 60/40-split rear seats to reveal almost 60 cubic feet of space. Room in the second row is enough to keep even tall passengers comfortable.

Most Compasses will be purchased with front-wheel drive, but it wouldn't be a Jeep unless it could handle off-road trails. And while most owners will never need the off-roading hardware available on the Trailhawk trim, it's nice to know it's there if you want to do some overlanding, just get down a muddy road, or climb out of a snowed-in parking lot.

Overall, we like the Compass. If you're looking for a comfortable and affordable crossover SUV that can also get you out and into nature, the new Compass works well.

What's new for 2018

Coming off last year's redesign, the 2018 Jeep Compass is unchanged.

We recommend

If you're into off-roading, get the Trailhawk. Its all-wheel drive and suspension calibration help the Compass punch above its weight. Otherwise, we think most buyers will find that the Latitude hits the sweet spot for content and value. It also gives you a lot of flexibility in choosing powertrain and option configurations.

Trim levels & features

The 2018 Compass is available in four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk. All come with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (180 horsepower, 175 pound-feet of torque). A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the Sport, and a six-speed (FWD) or a nine-speed (AWD) automatic transmission is optional. All other Compass trims have the automatic as standard equipment. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional on all Compasses except the Trailhawk, which comes standard with AWD.

Starting things out is the Sport trim. Standard equipment highlights include 16-inch wheels, air-conditioning, the smaller Uconnect system (with 5-inch touchscreen display), Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port and a six-speaker sound system.

Compared to the Sport, the Compass Latitude has larger wheels, upgraded cloth and simulated leather seat upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless ignition and entry, and more choices for options packages.

The Compass Limited is the most comprehensively equipped. Standout features include 18-inch wheels, remote start, upgraded exterior trim, a 8.5-inch Uconnect touchscreen (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration), satellite radio, automatic dual-zone climate control, an upgraded driver information display, a power driver seat, heated front seats and leather upholstery.

Though the Trailhawk sits below the Limited in price, it differs greatly in function and features. Only available in AWD with the nine-speed automatic, it rides on 17-inch wheels with off-road-oriented tires, a raised suspension, and a unique front fascia to maximize approach and breakover angles. Further mechanical changes include its own Selec-Terrain system to help it crawl over steep climbs and rocky surfaces. Red tow hooks front and rear and a matte-black hood accent further differentiate the Trailhawk from the rest of the Compass line, while a hidden set of underbody protection shields keep the engine, oil pan and gas tank from harm's way.

Other popular options, depending on the trim level, include a navigation system, a sunroof, a premium Beats audio system, a power liftgate, a Cold Weather package, and an Advanced Safety and Lighting package that includes xenon headlights, forward collision warning and mitigation, and lane departure warning and intervention.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Jeep Compass Trailhawk (2.4L inline-4 | 9-speed automatic | AWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.3 / 10


6.0 / 10

Acceleration6.0 / 10
Braking6.0 / 10
Steering7.0 / 10
Handling6.0 / 10
Drivability6.0 / 10


7.0 / 10

Seat comfort7.0 / 10
Ride comfort7.0 / 10
Noise & vibration7.0 / 10
Climate control8.0 / 10


7.5 / 10

Ease of use8.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out8.0 / 10
Driving position7.0 / 10
Roominess7.5 / 10
Visibility7.0 / 10
Quality8.0 / 10


7.0 / 10

Small-item storage7.0 / 10
Cargo space7.0 / 10


8.0 / 10

Audio & navigation7.5 / 10
Smartphone integration8.0 / 10
Driver aids7.0 / 10
Voice control8.0 / 10


The Compass surprised us with its stiff chassis, and it's capable when the trail gets tough. But a lackluster powertrain and the Trailhawk's knobby tires make it a chore when the asphalt gets twisty. Even so, the off-road-oriented Compass feels fine when cruising on the highway.


Acceleration is marginal even if you bury the pedal, with a 0-60 mph time of 10.1 seconds. The 2.4-liter engine doesn't make pleasant sounds under these conditions either. If you light-foot the throttle, it tends to upshift a gear or two too high, exacerbating the tepid power delivery.


Brakes are initially grabby but are easy to modulate. There's enough pedal feel so you can brake into corners, although the ABS system is surprisingly smooth and quiet. Still, there's lots of brake dive and a mushy pedal. The long 60-0 mph stopping distance of 140 feet is due to off-road tires.


The steering feels taut at highway speeds with a decent amount of weight, not overly boosted like some other SUVs. Yet it's still easy to manage at low speeds. There isn't much feedback, however, with virtually no on-center feel, but that doesn't seem to matter as much for this type of vehicle.


The Compass' chassis is surprisingly stiff, with a decently composed suspension, even on curvier roads. While it doesn't feel too sloppy or underdamped, it's not a true on-road SUV. Its off-road-friendly tires are harsher than all-seasons and handling is numb, particularly in quick transitions.


The nine-speed's shift quality has improved over the generations, but its insistence on upshifting as soon as possible hurts acceleration. You must floor the throttle to get it to downshift. It likes to be driven with a heavy or a light foot. In between, where most people drive, is the most irksome.


For the class, there isn't anything else that off-roads like the Trailhawk. It's more capable than you think, and the electronics take the guesswork and stress out of driving. Hard to believe you can drive this thing home afterward. Has a first-gear hold feature and a lockable center differential.


The Compass Trailhawk isn't the most comfortable choice in the segment, but it is a little better than average. This is true even when considering its off-road-oriented tire and suspension package, a setup that works well off-road and is also compatible with questionably maintained city streets.

Seat comfort7.0

The front-seat cushions are firm with adequate lateral support, but the rear bench offers less of the latter. There's plenty of headroom and adequate legroom all around. We found the seats a compromise for most body types, but the flat seat bottoms allow for easy shifting to relieve pressure points.

Ride comfort7.0

Ride comfort is good, even over rough roads, with the suspension and high-profile tires taking the edge off the bumps. The ride is supple enough for these conditions without being underdamped, and it feels surprisingly substantial for a compact SUV.

Noise & vibration7.0

There's a moderate amount of wind noise on the highway, and the Trailhawk's knobby tires produce noticeable road noise on rougher road surfaces. But there were no vibrations and not even a body panel squeak with the vehicle teetering on our frame-twist course.

Climate control8.0

The climate controls are excellent, with a mix of buttons and touchscreen controls. While all operations can be accomplished through the responsive touchscreen, the buttons provide instant access. The system performs well, with the heated seats and steering wheel able to get nice and toasty.


Although the Compass won't win any style awards, its interior is straightforward and ergonomic. Passengers can get in and out with ease and sit comfortably, while the driver has a good view of the road ahead. The Jeep Easter eggs peppered throughout keep things interesting.

Ease of use8.0

All controls are well laid out and clearly labeled. The Trailhawk's drive mode dial is easy to use, with clear indicator lights that let you know what's going on. The infotainment system is busy in appearance, but it's customizable and easy to navigate.

Getting in/getting out8.0

The sill stepover height may be a tad high for less mobile passengers, but most will find it easy. The seat height is perfect for an easy slide in. Doors open almost to 90 degrees and the entry is wide. Even the rear door openings are squared off to provide more head clearance for rear passengers.

Driving position7.0

The driver's seat offers quite a bit of adjustment, including a very effective four-position lumbar support, which is nice. The limiting comfort factor will be for drivers with long legs since the wheel doesn't telescope out far enough for an optimal position.


The Compass is surprisingly roomy. Even with the driver's seat all the way back, there's room for shorter passengers to sit comfortably. Lots of head-, legroom, and elbow room front and rear. The center drive tunnel isn't too tall or intrusive, which helps free up space for the middle passenger.


Decent front and side visibility, though a chunky rear roof pillar creates a blind spot at the rear three-quarter angle. The rearview camera with cross-traffic alert is helpful in this case, especially considering the rear center headrest juts into your view. Thankfully, the headrest is removable.


The Compass is miles better than the previous, pre-2017 version. While plastic is still the main course, durable soft-touch materials are well-represented. Leather covers the steering wheel and shift knob. We noticed no creaks or rattles, even on the bumpiest of trails.


While cargo volume is on the low side, the available space is tall. And contrary to popular convention, its power hatch button is on the driver-side wall of the cargo area. Small cubbies to the sides of the main cargo area are the perfect place for a jump box, recovery kit and first-aid kit.

Small-item storage7.0

The armrest bin is sized for large phones or a small camera. Central cupholders have an anti-tip design and can take cups with handles. The door pockets can hold a 26-ounce water bottle and other small items. The glovebox is decently sized. Rear cupholders in the armrest also have anti-tip.

Cargo space7.0

The cargo area measures 27 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 60 cubes when folded. Both are low for the segment. The strut, located on the driver side, intrudes on the hatch opening but doesn't affect loading. Tie-downs are located on the sides and threshold, allowing for edge-to-edge loading.


All-wheel-drive Compass models such as our Trailhawk can tow up to 2,000 pounds, which is excellent for its segment. An optional tow kit adds a four-pin harness and an integrated Class III hitch.


While it's not a tech-heavy vehicle, the Compass proves that quality is better than quantity. Its driver assist systems are average, and not all elements are standard. Uconnect is easy to use, and functions such as the drive mode, engine stop-start and traction control are all accessible.

Audio & navigation7.5

We're fans of the Uconnect system due to its customizability and easy-to-find functions. The top system, Uconnect 4C, comes with a large 8.4-inch screen with clear and crisp navigation graphics. But the system is sluggish, with late alerts, and real-time traffic is anything but.

Smartphone integration8.0

Aside from Bluetooth pairing and streaming capability, our Compass Trailhawk came with Uconnect 4C and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Front-seat passengers get one USB port and an auxiliary jack. Rear passengers get one USB port and a 110-volt, household-style outlet.

Driver aids7.0

Optional lane departure warning is sluggish to react, occasionally warning too soon, but usually not soon enough. The camera is sensitive to the contrast between lane markers and the road. Our test car also had the forward collision mitigation, which functions as it should.

Voice control8.0

It's an average system as far as voice recognition goes, but it stands out due to its scope: It interfaces with the obvious, telephone, navigation, and audio source and channel selection, but you can also send pre-established texts and adjust climate control settings.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.