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2012 Jeep Compass Photo
6.8
/ 10
TCC Rating
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Reviewed by Bengt Halvorson
Deputy Editor, The Car Connection
BASE INVOICE
$18,967
BASE MSRP
$19,295
Quick Take
The 2012 Jeep Compass looks pretty good—and its combination of versatile interior, mild off-road ability, and reasonably good gas mileage make it even more attractive—but it simply fails to feel cohesive, responsive, or refined. Read more »
Decision Guide
Opinions from around the Web
Styling
Performance
Quality
Features
Mileage

no longer such a homely little pug

Edmunds' Inside Line »

Unfortunately, Jeep didn't make it much past the A-pillars and the rest looks about the same, save new LED taillights and some new wheels.

Motor Trend »

The front end looks so good you want to ignore the mostly carryover profile and rear end.

Autoblog »

The most obvious change comes by way of the sleek and attractive front end, which dials in Grand Cherokee-esque attitude that you just won’t find on a Toyota RAV4 or Subaru Forester.

Vehix.com »
Pricing and Specifications by Style
$19,295 $26,045
MSRP $19,295
INVOICE $18,967 Browse used listings in your area
FWD 4-Door Sport
Gas Mileage 23 mpg City/29 mpg Hwy
Engine Gas I4, 2.0
EPA Class 2WD Sport Utility Vehicles
Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity 5
Passenger Doors 4
Body Style Sport Utility
See Detailed Specs »
6.8 out of 10
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The Basics:

Jeep's Compass compact crossover is closely related to the boxy Jeep Patriot. But until last year it was almost unanimously panned for its homely styling and chintzy interior, but things took an about face last year with a cosmetic refresh that changed its sheetmetal throughout and gave the model a 'mini-Grand Cherokee' look.

The nips and tucks worked wonders; even though it's still a little awkward from some angles, the 2012 Jeep Compass is now somewhat attractive, if a bit conservative. Inside, Jeep hasn't quite given it the revolutionary interior makeover that Chrysler gave to the Dodge Journey last year; it's been modestly spruced up but definitely feels done on a budget.

While the makeover made the Compass better-looking, it's not any better-performing, or really much more refined than before, unfortunately. A 158-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, but we still recommend the step-up 172-hp, 2.4-liter four, as it makes 24 pound-feet more torque—a difference you can feel in the Compass, especially off the line. The five-speed manual transmission that's standard is quite agreeable, but this model's Achilles Heel continues to be its continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which is slow to ramp up revs and respond to passing demands or merely confident acceleration out of tight corners. The CVT also brings out these engines' tendency to be loud, coarse, and vibration-prone.

Base 2012 Jeep Compass Sport models come with front-wheel drive. While the Freedom Drive I option is essentially for those who want all-wheel-drive ability for snow or mud, the Freedom Drive II system gives this vehicle a level of off-road ability that's unusual in small crossovers. As such, the Compass gains Jeep's Trail Rated badge, bringing a continuously-variable transaxle that engages in off-road mode, a one-inch higher ride height, skid plates, and a full-size spare. It includes appearance upgrades, too, but it's beyond that--actually making the Compass good enough for mud and some situations with logs and boulders.

For four adults, the Compass's interior does the job; seats tend to be quite short and lacking in support, so it's no long-haul highway cruiser, but the driving position is upright yet quite carlike. In back there's enough headroom for most adults (although legroom is a bit tight), and the bench is among the hardest, flattest ones we've tested. Cargo space remains limited, as there's not a lot of space behind the back seats and the cargo floor is somewhat high. And the Compass cabin isn't all that refined in other ways; the ride tends to be a bit too soft in corners, yet too pitchy over rough pavement. And while Jeep has added more noise insulation, these models still have a surprising amount of engine noise when accelerating. But the interior is well laid-out and comes with a number of innovative features, like a rechargeable flashlight and outward-facing tailgate speakers.

The Compass hasn't been rated for safety since its refresh, by either of the major safety agencies, but its features are pretty strong, albeit typical for the class. 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 are all included, along with front-seat side airbags and active head restraints.

Equipment is far from what you'll find in the flagship Jeep Grand Cherokee, but the Compass comes pretty well-equipped for a model with an entry price of $20k. Power accessories, fog lamps, and alloy wheels are included in all models, while Latitude and Limited models get extras like remote start, Bluetooth, tailgate speakers, a universal remote, and a media center with 30 gigabytes of storage. Limited models are distinguished by their big 18-inch alloys and come with automatic climate control.

Likes:

  • Good mpg compared to SUVs
  • Impressive feature set
  • Very practical layout
  • Low sticker price

Dislikes:

  • Coarse engines
  • Sluggish CVT performance
  • Unimpressive cargo space
  • Quickie refresh still doesn't work from all angles
Next: Interior / Exterior »
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