Research

2012 Jeep Compass Review

The Car Connection Expert Rating Breakdown?

6.8
on a scale of 1 to 10
Styling
6.0
Expert Rating
Performance
6.0
Expert Rating
Comfort & Quality
6.0
Expert Rating
Safety
7.0
Expert Rating
Features
9.0
Expert Rating
Fuel Economy
7.0
Expert Rating

The Car Connection Expert Review

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.

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.

The Car Connection Consumer Review

1 Review
5 star
0%
4 star
100%
3 star
0%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
Friday, July 24, 2015
2012 Jeep Compass 4WD 4-Door Sport

Most small crossover suv for the money!

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
This vehicle has had bad reviews by JEEP fans due to its CVT transmission. I'm used to the CVT since its the same drive system as our Prius and my scooter. It does take some getting used to and some relearning... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Yes
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
For 2015 Jeep Compass

It's ok nothing fancy

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
I've only put on 6000 mi ok so far not enough power gas mileage isn't very good small gas tank not bad in snow overall been ok so far Seems cheaply made in some ways well see how it goes
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Yes
Monday, September 28, 2015
For 2015 Jeep Compass

Great Jeep

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
to all of the so called experts, pull your head out of your ass. The 2015 Jeep Compass is a great vehicle for the price. At less than $25,000.00 with air conditioning and cruise control, four wheel drive... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Yes
See all user reviews »
Looking for other models of the Jeep Compass?
Read reviews & get prices
Compare the 2012 Jeep Compass against the competition
Compare All Cars