2010 Jeep Compass Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
December 10, 2009

Although the 2010 Jeep Compass strikes out on design, with an anonymous look that fails to be either sleek or rugged, it has decent performance, good safety, and some standout features.

TheCarConnection.com has looked at a wide range of road tests from top-notch sources in order to bring you an accurate assessment of how the 2010 Jeep Compass matches up with other possibilities. And to wrap it all up into a one-page take, the editors or TheCarConnection.com have included their own firsthand driving impressions and advice here in this Bottom Line.

The 2010 Jeep Compass wears a traditional Jeep face, but this crossover struggles to find its own identity among the different Jeep offerings. With a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine and styling that borrows bits from sleeker crossover wagons and rugged traditional Jeeps—plus mechanical underpinnings shared with the Dodge Caliber and Jeep Patriot—the Jeep Compass doesn't leave a strong impression.

Last year, Chrysler tried to spruce up the Compass, which is a good thing since it was a little drab inside. It's still no attention-getter, but these updates included a redesigned instrument panel with a smoother look and chrome accents, an updated center console with a split lid for added storage space, and door trim panels featuring padded armrests.

TheCarConnection.com’s editors note that the Compass is not particularly quick with the larger 2.4-liter, 172-horsepower engine, let alone the smaller 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 158 horsepower. Interestingly, there is only a 1 mpg highway gain for the smaller engine when equipped with the five-speed manual transmission. Both engine options on the Compass are also available with an optional CVT. The CVT, however, tends to exacerbate the unrefined nature of Chrysler's four-cylinder engines. Jeep does offer AutoStick, which makes the gearbox shift more like a traditional fixed-gear transmission. Handling, however, is a bright spot; the Compass is very maneuverable and steers most of the time with the accuracy and precision of a small car while riding pretty well.

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For a relatively small, inexpensive vehicle, the Jeep Compass provides comfort that's more than acceptable, with plenty of room for four and even five in a pinch. The roof is tall, and this helps enhance the spacious sensation, though problems do exist inside the cabin of the 2010 Jeep Compass. There are issues with the plastic surfaces, which don't exactly have a high-quality feel. Last year Chrysler added more sound insulation to help reduce noise, while revised suspension tuning helped provide a smoother, more comfortable ride.

Although the Compass has no problem tackling light off-road situations like getting through deep snow or negotiating a two-track to a campsite (with the available Freedom Drive I, which includes a full-time, active four-wheel-drive system), hard-core off-roaders will want to steer clear of the Compass.

Performance in most government crash tests has been good. Standard safety features on the 2010 Jeep Compass include side curtain airbags, Brake Traction Control, a driver-controlled three-mode Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Brake Assist, Electronic Roll Mitigation, and Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with rough-road detection. Front-seat -mounted side airbags are optional. New for 2010 are active head restraints for both the driver and the front-seat passenger, making the Compass even safer.

The very extensive options list on the Compass includes Bluetooth connectivity, Sirius Satellite Radio, 18-inch wheels, all-terrain tires, a moonroof, and an upgraded audio system with six-disc CD changer. A remote start system and an automatic climate control system are now also offered.

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