By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 9/17/2012
Although it wears the Jeep name and "Trail Rated' badge, the 2013 Jeep Compass compact SUV isn't exactly born of the same metal that forges the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee. Built from a platform once shared with the now-defunct Dodge Caliber, the Compass is more car than truck, more commuter than off-road warrior. Competing with such established names as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester, the Compass has its work cut out for it, especially considering most of its newer rivals outshine it in the areas of engine technology, fuel economy and features. As a commuter vehicle sometimes tossed into foul-weather conditions, the Compass is fine. But as a serious off-roader, it just doesn't live up to the Jeep name.
If you like the look of the Grand Cherokee, but don't need its off-road ability or lofty price tag, the Jeep Compass for 2013 might be an option. Its 4-wheel drive can venture over light off-road obstacles, and its 30-mpg highway fuel economy should help ease the pain at the pump.You May Not Like This Car If...
As a serious off-road vehicle, the Jeep Compass isn't our first (or even second) choice. As a daily driver, the Compass doesn't fare much better. Its engines are crude and underpowered, its interior outdated and its resale value is nowhere near that of the best in the field.
When equipped with the 2.0-liter engine and 5-speed manual, the 2013 Jeep Compass compact SUV earns 30-mpg highway.Driving It Driving Impressions
The 2013 Jeep Compass offers a choice of two 4-cylinder engines, neither of which strikes us as terribly refined or powerful. The larger 2.4-liter engine would be our first choice, delivering decent acceleration and fuel economy. Of course, the beauty of a car-based crossover is its on-road composure, and both the steering and suspension of the 2013 Jeep Compass provide decent connectivity to the road. That good news, however, is diminished by Jeep's continued use of the CVT automatic transmission; we suggest you opt for the base Compass with the manual transmission.Favorite Features
FREEDOM DRIVE II OFF-ROAD PACKAGE
With Freedom Drive II the 2013 Compass achieves Jeep's "Trail Rated" moniker, a credible achievement given its car-based roots. With what Jeep describes as a second-generation CVT with low range, in combination with all-terrain tires, a 1-inch-higher ride height and full-size spare tire, you can, indeed, get off the beaten path.
SUN AND SOUND GROUP
Combine nine Boston Acoustic speakers with two articulating liftgate speakers and Sirius satellite radio and you can have the music for a hearty party. Whether at the beach – and with either 4-wheel-drive option the 2013 Jeep Compass can deal with some sand – or at the trailhead, the optional sound system makes it easy to share the good times and good sounds with your friends.
The interior of the 2013 Jeep Compass includes soft-touch materials on the door trim, a comfortable center armrest and a steering wheel that provides decent feel and grip. Other details include a Uconnect media center with iPod interface, available Sirius satellite radio and navigation, illuminated cup holders, liftgate speakers and fold-flat rear seats. The end result is not unattractive, but pricing for a well-equipped Compass can easily climb into the $30,000 range.Exterior
At their launch in 2007 both the Compass and Patriot wore front fascias with strong family resemblances to the Jeep Wrangler, with 7-slot grilles and one round headlight per side, but the 2013 Jeep Compass now more closely follows the look of the Grand Cherokee. However, while it looks less like the Dodge Caliber upon which it's based, you still can't think of it as looking like a real Jeep, and the architecture remains saddled with a relatively narrow track that will accept little more than smallish tires. In short, as a Jeep it still looks too much like an entry-level hatchback.Notable Standard Equipment
Offered in three trim levels – Sport, Latitude and Limited – the 2013 Jeep Compass SUV is not without features, both standard and optional. The availability of a 5-speed manual (Sport only) is a nice surprise, especially for those not wanting Chrysler's optional continuously-variable transmission (CVT). The 4-wheel independent suspension is another bonus and, to Jeep's credit, even base Sport models offer numerous standard comfort and convenience features, including air conditioning, power door locks, power windows, cruise control, power heated outside mirrors, a removable and rechargeable flashlight and Uconnect media center.
The availability of Freedom Drive II gives the 2013 Jeep Compass the semblance of a low range for aggressive off-roading. You won't, to be sure, want to go boulder hopping (there simply isn't enough ground clearance), but you'll be pleasantly surprised with the capabilities of the Compass, when so equipped, to deal with slick surfaces and bad weather. Beyond that, we'd mention the All-weather Capability Group, which includes all-season floor mats, engine-block heater, all-terrain tires and tow hooks; the All-weather Capability Group may be the best way to make this "pretend" Jeep feel more like the real thing.Under the Hood
The 2013 Jeep Compass' base engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder of 158 horsepower. We recommend the optionally available 2.4-liter four, which makes 172 horsepower and is standard with the up-market Limited trim level and mandatory if you select either of the two 4-wheel-drive packages.
158 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
141 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 mpg (FWD, manual), 22/28 mpg (FWD, automatic)
172 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
165 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/28 mpg (FWD, manual), 21/27 mpg (FWD, CVT), 23/28 mpg (4WD, manual), 21/26 mpg (Freedom Drive I 4WD, CVT), 20/23 mpg (Freedom Drive II w/Off-Road package, 4WD, CVT)
With a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of roughly $20,000, the base 2013 Jeep Compass Sport occupies the only price point where a Compass purchase can begin to make sense. And, given the pricing difference between it and a comparably-equipped Patriot, you really need to appreciate the looks of the Compass to consider the additional expense. As you go up in trim levels the argument for a Compass purchase grows even more marginal; a Limited starts at just over $25,000 and, with options, can easily climb past $30,000. If a 2013 Jeep Compass is your one-and-only consideration, consult Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Price for an idea of what consumers are paying in your area. And, don't regard the Compass as an investment, as the resale value falls short of virtually everything in its competitive segment.