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#24

in 2009 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $10,150 - $13,680
Original MSRP: $18,465 - $24,575
MPG: 23 City / 28 Hwy
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2009 Jeep Compass Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The Jeep Compass functions well as a daily driver. However, driving dynamics don't provide much excitement -- or the off-road capabilities Jeeps are known for.

  • "Regardless of model, the Compass meets its stated objective of not being objectionable in the ride department. We cruised for hours on city streets, two-lane blacktop, freeways, winding fire trails and the ever-present construction zones with no fatigue." -- AutoWeek
  • "Bred for suburban streets (but tested on washboard and in proving ground mud bowls, says Liddane), the Compass slaloms like a car. The mellow suspension tune toned down big impacts while keeping the body above its keel with reasonable roll control. It found its way through Hells Canyon's switchbacks with focused steering, a trait not often associated with Jeeps." -- Car and Driver
  • "For an entry-level small car (let alone one that fits into the SUV category), its ride is comfortable, with just the right amount of firmness for a car-based small utility." -- Motor Trend
  • "Although 172 hp is pretty decent output for a four-cylinder engine, the 2009 Jeep Compass is slothlike during merging and passing maneuvers, especially when equipped with 4WD and the CVT." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The Compass is available in two trims: the Sport and the Limited, which both come with a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine. A less powerful 2.0-liter 158-horsepower I4 is available as a credit option on the base model only. According to the EPA, the base model nets 23/28 mpg city/highway.

  • "It is powered by a remarkable inline-4-cylinder engine, whose strong band of power seems to last forever, giving the impression of a far larger engine." -- The Boston Globe
  • "All Compasses are powered by a 172-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine equipped with variable valve timing for adequate pull at all engine speeds." -- Cars.com
  • "Unfortunately, the CVT in the Compass is not one of the better applications of this technology: It frequently holds the engine at high rpm, at which point the four-cylinder's power band has already begun to taper off. The result is sluggish highway acceleration and lots of noise. For buyers who can manage it, the manual gearbox is recommended." -- Edmunds
  • "Only AWD versions have been available for us to test so far. Those Compasses have adequate power away from a stop and around town, but modest reserve power demands careful planning before passing or highway merging." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Our Compass was fitted with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (172 horsepower, 165 pound-feet of torque), which is the larger of the two engines available. On the road, the Compass felt seriously underpowered, its engine wheezing and whining as the vehicle lethargically made its way up hills. At highway speeds, mashing the accelerator or slapping the Autostick shifter caused the continuously variable transmission (CVT) to select a lower virtual gear and make considerably more mechanical noise, but actual acceleration was all but absent." -- CNET

Handling and Braking

The Compass is one of Jeep's first vehicles to feature a four-wheel independent suspension. It receives good reviews for its handling capabilities.

  • "Although hardly quick, the Compass can be pleasant to drive in town, as its fully independent suspension provides a smooth ride and stable handling around corners." -- Edmunds
  • "The steering system puts the Compass right where you want it, the ride is supple and handling and braking are good." -- MSN
  • "Brakes and steering felt about the way you'd want, responsive without being touchy. No shaking or vibrating." -- USA Today
  • "If a lack of power wasn't enough to discourage spirited driving in the Compass, the suspension is also ill suited for all but the most leisurely driving patterns. While the sloppy suspension and uncommunicative steering don't give the driver any valuable information about the vehicle's grip, they do transmit quite a bit of noise and harshness into the cabin. Hitting a bump midturn unsettles the suspension, making handling unpredictable, even with the 4x4 system." -- CNET

Next Steps: 2009 Jeep Compass

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