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#12

in 2011 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $13,677 - $18,210
Original MSRP: $19,295 - $25,995
MPG: 23 City / 27 Hwy
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2011 Jeep Compass Performance

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

Reviewers are quick to note that the 2011 Jeep Compass isn’t the best performer on or off the road. They do say, however, that the Compass is capable and a few updates like Freedom Drive II take the Compass off-road with more finesse than they expected. While it isn’t the most powerful car on the market, fuel economy ratings of 23/29 mpg city/highway make it one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the class.

  • "The result is a surprisingly capable Compass. On a test drive outside Jackson, Wyoming, the Compass was able to keep up with the rest of the Jeep lineup on moderately difficult snow-covered trails that saw steep descents, rocky riverbeds, and muddy hill climbs, even if it had to make a few runs at some obstacles." -- Motor Trend
  • "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." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The base Compass has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 141 pound-feet of torque and 158 horsepower. An available 2.4-liter four cylinder engine is standard on Limited models and optional on base and Latitude trims. A five speed manual transmission is standard on the base Compass, while a CVT is available and comes standard on Latitude and Limited models. The 2.4-liter engine produces 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. Unfortunately, these are the same engines that were available with the 2010 model, and some test drivers are still unimpressed with their performance because they aren’t powerful. Still, the Compass is suited for off-roading, but isn’t the best off-road SUV.

Fuel economy ratings vary depending on the transmission you select and whether you choose two-wheel or four-wheel drive. The EPA says two-wheel drive models will get between 21/27 mpg city/highway with the 2.4-liter engine and an automatic transmission to 23/29 mpg city/highway with the 2.0-liter engine and manual transmission. All four-wheel drive models get a 2.4-liter engine. With a manual transmission, drivers should expect to get 22/28 mpg city/highway and 21/26 mpg city/highway with the automatic.

  • "There's still not much acceleration to be had, but the 0-60 mph time did drop a half a second for 2011 and now takes about 10.5 seconds. Road noise still penetrates through the Compass' chassis, but there's no significant wind noise coming through the windshield or A-pillars at highway speeds." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "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." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

The 2011 Jeep Compass still isn’t the best handler in the class, but test drivers report that it has better handling and braking capabilities than the 2010 model. The 2011 Compass is more stable thanks to thicker rear anti-roll bars and revisions to the suspension. Reviewers also report that the Compass’s updates give the driver more confidence at the wheel.

  • "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." -- Edmunds
  • "We were very surprised by how much more responsive the Compass is on a twisting road -- don't expect driving dynamics anywhere near a Grand Cherokee, but the Compass now inspires confidence instead of fear when you turn the wheel.” -- Automobile Magazine

Off-Roading

For 2011, Jeep did two things to improve the Compass’s off road performance. First, the Compass is available with Freedom Drive II, a more capable all-wheel drive system. Freedom drive comes with Hill Descent Control, Off-road Brake Traction Control and has an off-road mode that works well for rock climbing, steep grades and water fording. Freedom Drive is an all-new Jeep technology and comes with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Second, the Compass receives Jeep’s Trail Rated Certification. This means the Compass has undergone tests in five off-road conditions: traction, ground clearance, articulation, water fording and maneuverability. Jeep owns the rights to Trail Rating Certification, but Edmunds notes that the label is legitimate. Off-road vehicles for the US government undergo the same standards.

Before drivers tested the 2011 Compass, they were afraid that like previous models, it wouldn’t be able to handle itself off the highway. However, they were surprised. The Compass isn’t the best off-road vehicle on the market, but it’s still capable.

The Compass can tow up to 2,000 pounds.

  • "The 2011 Compass is now available with Freedom Drive II, the second and more-capable generation of the Compass' all-wheel-drive system. When so equipped, the now-Trail Rated Compass gets a 1-inch lift in ride height to an impressive 8.4 inches (0.3 inches more than the rear axle of a Jeep Liberty), 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, skidplates, tow hooks, a full-size spare, and, most importantly, a second-generation continuously variable transmission with low range. For that, you give up manual shifting ability on the CVT, but it's a worthy trade." -- Motor Trend
  • "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." -- Edmunds

Next Steps: 2011 Jeep Compass

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