2014 Jeep Compass Review

Consumer Reviews
2 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 7, 2014

The 2014 Jeep Compass finally finds true north, with a better automatic transmission and a few more fine details.

After many years of struggling in the economy-car doldrums, the Jeep Compass has finally found its groove. For the past seven years, it's mostly been a right idea plagued by poor execution--a rally-ish hatchback saddled with torpid acceleration and lackluster manners.

Over a series of light updates in the past two years, the Compass finally has a presentable interior, a smooth powertrain, and settled handling. It's much more in tune with what buyers expect from a small crossover.

Visually, the ‘mini-Grand Cherokee’ makeover that the Compass received for 2011 took a big step toward righting the awkwardness of the original Compass design that had been introduced for 2007. The result was a vehicle that hit the mark in exterior appearance but still left much to be desired because of its coarse, buzzy engines and sluggish continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Now on the 2014 Compass, Jeep hasn’t done anything radical to that look, although it’s refined this small crossover with even more fine details. And even more importantly, the unloved continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is purged from the lineup.

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On the inside, upholsteries and trims have been completely revamped, with available Saddle Brown perforated leather upholstery with accent stitching, for instance, or a new sport mesh-and-vinyl with accent stitching. Outside, the Compass gets a Billet Silver textured grille in its Sport and Latitude trims, while Limited models get new projector halogen lamps with black and chrome bezels; taillamps get a new ‘smoked’ inner bezel.

The base engine on the Compass remains a 158-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder ‘World Engine,’ while top Limited models come with a 172-hp, 2.4-liter version; a five-speed manual gearbox is standard, while the six-speed automatic is offered as a step up across the lineup. The six-speed brings a higher top gear for lower revs at highway cruising speeds, while there’s also a low 4.21 first gear for stronger launches—plus AutoStick manual control. The new automatic is also essentially maintenance-free, with a sealed-for-life design, with no dipstick and no flushes or fills required. It's also as much of an improvement in drivability as you might think; in a short spin, we found the new automatic transmission in the Compass to be not only more responsive, but more settled.

The Compass’s cabin design otherwise stays the same—meaning that you should expect the same ride, which is a bit on the harsh side, and a bit more like that of a small car than other compact crossovers. All models also now get acoustic laminated front windshield glass, which should incrementally help tamp down this model’s ongoing issues with engine noise. The Compass merely does the job with respect to seat comfort (and we don’t see that the seat design itself is different in the 2014); the rear bench in particular is one of the hardest, flattest ones we've tested in such a vehicle. And there’s not all that much cargo space behind the rear seats.

The 2014 Compass is offered in Sport, Latitude, and Limited models, each with a choice between front-wheel drive, the Freedom Drive I full-time active all-wheel drive (with a locking center diff good for snow or sand), or Freedom Drive II, which adds more off-road capability. In previous model years we've found the latter system to be tough enough to churn through sand or get up some of the more rutted trails, but it's still no rock-crawler.

Gas mileage for the Compass still isn't great compared to other models its size. Mileage ranges from 26 mpg city, 30 highway with the base 2.0 engine and manual gearbox, all the way down to 21/23 with automatic and 4WD or ojust 20/21 mpg with the toughest Freedom Drive II package.

Front active head restraints, electronic stability control, and Hill Start Assist are standard on all models of the 2014 Compass. But with three-star frontal results from the federal government and no updated IIHS rating, there are too many unanswered questions about occupant safety to say it's one of the top safety picks.

Standard features across the 2014 Compass lineup include air conditioning, power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, fog lamps, a removable rechargeable flashlight, and illuminated cupholders. Latitude models add heated cloth front seats, a fold-flat passenger seat, 60/40-split reclining rear seats, a 115-volt power inverter, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. At the top of the range, the Limited gets the 2.4-liter engine, plus four-wheel disc brakes, 18-inch alloys, leather upholstery, projector headlamps, a power driver’s seat, an information center, automatic climate control, a universal garage-door opener. Options include a ParkView backup camera, a power sunroof, Uconnect Voice Command (hands-free calling and audio streaming), nine-speaker premium sound with liftgate speakers, and a navigation system with SiriusXM Travel Link.

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2014 Jeep Compass

Styling

The Jeep Compass looks better than before, though it's still not one of the most stylish crossovers.

The Jeep Compass has been around, mostly unchanged, since the 2007 model year; but in 2011 Jeep took a big step toward righting the homely awkwardness of the original Compass design—although the boxy wheelwell outline and out-of-proportion upkick in the rear flanks remain. On the outside, the new 'mini-Grand-Cherokee' look succeeds as a whole, and the result is a vehicle that still has some awkward angles yet fits much better into the market today than when it was first introduced.

That last retouch—sort of a 'lite' version of the revamp given to Chrysler's other vehicles in recent years—simply wasn't enough to overcome the rather low-rent look and feel of the cabin, however. Upholsteries and trims were revamped then, with available Saddle Brown perforated leather upholstery with accent stitching, for instance, or a new sport mesh-and-vinyl with accent stitching. Overall, it's a straightforward and functional look—and it's appealing in appearance if not always touch.

Separately for 2014, the Compass gets a Billet Silver textured grille in its Sport and Latitude trims, while Limited models get new projector halogen lamps with black and chrome bezels; taillamps get a new ‘smoked’ inner bezel.

Review continues below
6

2014 Jeep Compass

Performance

A new six-speed automatic should make the Compass more drivable for 2014.

The base engine on the Compass remains a 158-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder ‘World Engine,’ while top Limited models come with a 172-hp, 2.4-liter version; a five-speed manual gearbox is standard, while the six-speed automatic is offered as a step up across the lineup.

The six-speed brings a higher top gear for lower revs at highway cruising speeds, while there’s also a low 4.21 first gear for stronger launches—plus AutoStick manual control. The new automatic is also essentially maintenance-free, with a sealed-for-life design, with no dipstick and no flushes or fills required.

It's also as much of an improvement in drivability as you might think; in a short spin, we found the new automatic transmission in the Compass to be not only more responsive, but more settled. Otherwise, we've found manual-gearbox versions of the Compass to have decent drivability, although a notchy shifter and imprecise clutch behavior sapped some of the enjoyment.

We'll add more impressions on the new automatic as soon as we can spend more time with one.

Review continues below
5

2014 Jeep Compass

Comfort & Quality

The cabin of the Compass is sorely lacking in flair and refinement, though it hits the mark for functionality.

Although the 2014 Jeep Compass has seen some significant suspension change, the Compass’s cabin design otherwise stays the same—meaning that you should expect the same ride, which is a bit on the harsh side, and a bit more like that of a small car than other compact crossovers.

From the driver's seat, the Compass feels like a small car—one that rides several inches higher than it otherwise would. It merely does the job with respect to seat comfort (and we don’t see that the seat design itself is different in the 2014); the rear bench in particular is one of the hardest, flattest ones we've tested in such a vehicle. And there’s not all that much cargo space behind the rear seats.

All models also now get acoustic laminated front windshield glass, which should incrementally help tamp down this model’s ongoing issues with engine noise.

Review continues below
That said, the packaging is quite good. The interior is well laid-out and comes with a number of innovative features, like a rechargeable flashlight and outward-facing tailgate speakers. But due to seats that fall short on comfort and support, the Compass merely does the job; the rear bench in particular is one of the hardest, flattest ones we've tested in such a vehicle.
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2014 Jeep Compass

Safety

There aren't any up-to-date crash-test results for the Compass, although its safety-feature list is good.

Front active head restraints, electronic stability control, and Hill Start Assist are standard on all models of the 2014 Compass. But with worrisome frontal results from the federal government and no updated IIHS rating, there are too many unanswered questions about occupant safety to say it's one of the top safety picks.

Of the two agencies that crash-test vehicles in the U.S., only the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) retains ratings for the Compass, and it earns a lackluster three stars for frontal impact.

Although there aren't any ratings for the Compass from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the very closely related Patriot has earned top 'good' ratings in all categories—as well as Top Safety Pick status. We see that as one positive counter to that federal rating—although the Patriot did get a bottom-of-the-barrel 'poor' rating in the new IIHS small overlap frontal impact test.

Side curtain airbags, Brake Traction Control, Brake Assist, Electronic Roll Mitigation, front-seat side airbags, active head restraints, and a driver-controlled three-mode Electronic Stability Program (ESP) are all included as standard features, as is an anti-lock braking system with rough-road detection.

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You'll want to check outward visibility during lane changes and parking—it's not horrible, but some drivers will find the lower seating position and high beltline difficult.
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2014 Jeep Compass

Features

Sticker prices are quite low, and you get a lot for the money in the Compass.

You're best to think of the 2014 Jeep Compass as an affordable small car. And on that level, it's competitive in pricing and features—provided you're not springing for the top-level Freedom Drive II package and its off-road capability.

Standard features across the 2014 Compass lineup include air conditioning, power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, fog lamps, a removable rechargeable flashlight, and illuminated cupholders. Latitude models add heated cloth front seats, a fold-flat passenger seat, 60/40-split reclining rear seats, a 115-volt power inverter, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

At the top of the range, the Limited gets the 2.4-liter engine, plus four-wheel disc brakes, 18-inch alloys, leather upholstery, projector headlamps, a power driver’s seat, an information center, automatic climate control, a universal garage-door opener.

Options include a ParkView backup camera, a power sunroof, Uconnect Voice Command (hands-free calling and audio streaming), nine-speaker premium sound with liftgate speakers, and a navigation system with SiriusXM Travel Link.

Review continues below
6

2014 Jeep Compass

Fuel Economy

Those who expect the Compass to return the gas mileage of a small car will be disappointed.

Gas mileage for the Compass still isn't great compared to other models its size. There's no way to sugar-coat it, really, as the Compass gets far worse mileage than other small cars, as well as lower mpg than compact crossovers that are more spacious.

Mileage ranges from 26 mpg city, 30 highway with the base 2.0 engine and manual gearbox, all the way down to 21/23 with automatic and 4WD or just 20/21 mpg with the toughest Freedom Drive II package.

Review continues below
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September 12, 2017
2014 Jeep Compass 4WD 4-Door Sport

VERY NICE!!!

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We are Loving our 2014 Jeep Compass 4WD Sport!! We are loving everything about it! It's Perfect!!
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December 18, 2016
2014 Jeep Compass FWD 4-Door High Altitude

so far so good !!! power pick up after 8/10.000 miles

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it is a high end JEEP all bell,s and whistie pick up and passing very good after 7/8000 miles, m p g ok you give up m.p.g. for performen!
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