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Jeep Compass Performance

Most reviewers say the 2015 Jeep Compass’ available engines are unrefined and produce little power. Still, a few think models equipped with the optional engine have adequate power. According to most auto journalists, the Compass has lackluster handling and vague steering. A few also report that the Compass’ ride can be rough. Models equipped with a Freedom Drive II four-wheel drive system offer decent off-road performance, reviewers say.

  • "The 2015 Jeep Compass offers a choice of two 4-cylinder engines, neither of which is terribly refined or powerful. The larger 2.4-liter that's standard in top-line Limited models and optional on Sport and Latitude trims would be our first choice since it delivers respectable acceleration and fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Compass has some neat features, but it's not exactly a car that makes you want to take the long way home -- unless you have Freedom Drive II, we suppose, though that means you're stuck with the CVT." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "Despite improvements for 2011, Compass remains one of the louder vehicles in its class. Wind rush is decently squelched, but road noise is fairly prominent, especially at highway speeds. An unrefined engine growl intrudes during acceleration." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "Notable weaknesses remain, including lackluster powertrains that fall short in terms of acceleration, fuel economy and overall refinement." -- Edmunds (2012) 

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Jeep Compass has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 158 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic transmission and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are available. A 172-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is also available. The EPA reports that the base Compass gets up to 23/30 mpg city/highway, which is fairly good for the class.

According to reviewers, the 2015 Compass’ base engine produces feeble power and slow acceleration. Most critics agree that the larger four-cylinder engine is only marginally better, delivering slightly quicker acceleration. However, a few test drivers say the optional engine’s power is on par with what competitors offer. Auto writers agree that both engines are noisy and unrefined. A few reviewers like the standard manual and optional six-speed automatic transmissions, but are disappointed by the fuel economy that models with the CVT get.

  • "The 2015 Compass's 2.0-liter engine keeps the cost down, but that's where the good news ends. Rowdy and underpowered, with disappointing fuel economy for such modest output, this engine is well past its prime. The 2.4-liter engine, on the other hand, has enough pep to stay with most competitors, and fuel economy barely suffers, though the refinement level isn't much higher." -- Edmunds
  • "The newer 6-speed automatic and 5-speed manual transmission on the Sport model help enhance the Compass' performance. Unfortunately, the most desirable off-road package, Freedom Drive II, remains saddled with the lackluster CVT2 continuously variable automatic transmission and only musters fuel-economy figures of 20 mpg city/23 mpg highway." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Neither engine accelerates well, and both are rather crude and loud. The new 6-speed automatic is more satisfying than the CVT, but a heavy foot still yields more noise than forward progress." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "It's a dog at high speeds -- spotted an interesting car on the expressway (a manufacturer-plated Ford Ranger T6) and wanted to get a closer look, and I really, really had to flog the Compass to catch up. The powertrain protested the entire way; though I did close the gap between the pickup and me, I can't remember the last time I felt so helpless behind the wheel." -- AutoWeek (2014)

Handling and Braking

Most auto writers are disappointed in the 2015 Jeep Compass’ uninspiring handling and dull steering. Most also say it has a harsh ride and can be difficult to maneuver. Still, a couple of test drivers think the Compass offers acceptable handling and steering that provides sufficient road feel.

  • "Of course, the beauty of a car-based crossover SUV is its on-road composure, and in that regard the steering and suspension of Jeep's crossover SUV provide decent connectivity to the road." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Expect a nervous, bouncy ride on such surfaces, with more impact harshness than you'll feel in most rivals. Handling is also below average, with an initial sense of control giving way to excessive body roll and vague steering in corners." -- Edmunds
  • "While the Compass delivers a fairly smooth ride, its steering is vague, with lots of play in the wheel and slow response time." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "While Compass rides slightly lower than most compact SUVs, it feels no more nimble. A large turning circle hurts close-quarters maneuverability." -- Consumer Guide (2012)


The 2015 Compass has standard front-wheel drive and is available with two four-wheel drive systems that can enhance its off-road ability. Freedom Drive I operates similarly to the all-wheel drive systems found in other crossovers and is designed for inclement conditions like rain and snow. Freedom Drive II adds low-range gearing, as well as all-terrain tires, skid plates and tow hooks. Test drivers agree that models equipped with Freedom Drive II have adequate off-road capabilities, but say that for serious off-road performance you should consider models like the Jeep Wrangler.

  • "At least you can do some respectable off-roading with Freedom Drive II, though other Compasses are unremarkable in this department." -- Edmunds
  • "While it's true that a Trail-Rated version can claim some off-road cred, the Compass is at heart more a front-wheel-drive-based hatchback than boulder-hopping Jeep Wrangler." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2011)
Review Last Updated: 8/21/15

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