in 2010 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $12,453 - $16,846
Original MSRP: $18,720 - $25,135
MPG: 23 City / 28 Hwy
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2010 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 due to its excellent fuel economy and decent on-road handling. However, its driving dynamics don't provide much excitement or the off-road capabilities Jeeps are known for.

  • "Don't expect a payoff in the handling department; the Compass is one of the least entertaining vehicles to drive in its class. It's also saddled with noisy and sluggish powertrains that will discourage you from exploring their full high-rpm potential." -- Edmunds
  • "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...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

Acceleration and Power

The Compass is available in two trims: the Sport and the Limited, both of which come with a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine that makes 172 horsepower. A less powerful 2.0-liter 158-horsepower I4 is available as a credit option on base models only. However, it will only save you $200, so it probably isn't worth giving up the extra power. This is especially true since the Compass is already considered sluggish in passing maneuvers, even with the larger engine. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a Continuously Variable Transaxle II transmission is optional. Reviewers strongly dislike the latter transmission (a $1,100 option) and say it saps acceleration.

Fuel economy is a strong point for the Compass. According to the EPA, the base model nets 23/28 mpg city/highway, while the least efficient model achieves 21/24 mpg. Along with the Patriot, it's one of Jeep's most fuel efficient vehicles and sits near the top of its class for fuel economy. If you're interested in more power, you'll have to sacrifice fuel economy. The Kia Sorento boasts two powerful V6 engines that make 242 and 262 horsepower, respectively, but its fuel economy is only 16/22 mpg at the best.

  • "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. Compasses made available for test periodically hesitated during acceleration." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Even with the larger 2.4-liter engine, the 2010 Jeep Compass feels sluggish during merging and passing maneuvers, especially when equipped with 4WD and the power-sapping CVT. It's also quite noisy, and the 2.0-liter engine is slower and noisier still." -- Edmunds
  • "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." -- Boston Globe
  • "On the road, the Compass [with the 2.4-liter engine] 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. However, note that base models come with rear drum brakes, which are dated and not even offered anymore on most vehicles. Higher trims upgrade to four-wheel disc brakes.

  • "Accurate, natural-feeling steering. We detected slight wander in gusty crosswinds. Body lean is moderate in corners. While Compass rides lower than most compact SUVs, it feels no more nimble. A large turning circle hurts close-quarters maneuverability. Brakes have good pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide
  • "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

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