By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 5.2
The 2015 Compass SUV, like its similar Patriot sibling, is a lower-cost way of gaining access to the Jeep family and sporting the rugged attitude the iconic brand embodies. While it's true that a Trail-Rated version can claim some off-road cred, the Compass is at heart more a front-wheel-drive-based hatchback than boulder-hopping Jeep Wrangler. Riding atop an aging platform, the Compass can claim only mediocre status when compared with fresher 5-passenger compact SUV crossovers such as the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, Ford Escape or even its new sibling, the Jeep Cherokee. Those competitors start beyond the Compass' sub-$20,000 base price, but they offer better refinement, newer technology and more satisfying on-road manners.
If you're looking for an inexpensive entry into the Jeep brand and dig the Compass' style over that of the similar-under-the-skin Patriot, this 5-passenger compact SUV may just pull you in. For buyers who like off-roading, or portraying the image of, a Trail-Rated Compass has passable credentials.
Compact SUV rivals ranging from the Subaru Forester to the Kia Sportage offer better features, style and comfort for not much more money. If your heart is set on a lower-cost Jeep, check out the Cherokee or the new Jeep Renegade.
KBB Expert Ratings
Little has changed as the 2015 Jeep Compass carries over for another year. A dome light replaces the removable flashlight, a new green paint color is available, and navigation joins the options list for mid-trim Latitude models.
The 2015 Jeep Compass offers a choice of two 4-cylinder engines, neither of which is terribly refined or powerful. The larger 2.4-liter that's standard in top-line Limited models and optional...
... on Sport and Latitude trims would be our first choice since it delivers respectable acceleration and fuel economy. Of course, the beauty of a car-based crossover SUV is its on-road composure, and in that regard the steering and suspension of Jeep's crossover SUV provide decent connectivity to the road. The newer 6-speed automatic and 5-speed manual transmission on the Sport model help enhance the Compass' performance. Unfortunately, the most desirable off-road package, Freedom Drive II, remains saddled with the lackluster CVT2 continuously variable automatic transmission and only musters fuel-economy figures of 20 mpg city/23 mpg highway.
FOLDING PASSENGER SEAT
One of the most appealing aspects of an SUV is its ability to haul stuff. And the Jeep Compass has a trick up its sleeve with a front-passenger seat that folds forward to create a flat surface. Standard in Latitude and Limited models, it accommodates longer items like surfboards and lumber.
SUN AND SOUND GROUP
This optional package offers plenty of both with a power sunroof and a Boston Acoustics premium sound system with nine speakers – including two that are built into the liftgate. The rearward speakers are meant to supply the soundtrack for fun at your next tailgate party.
The 2015 Compass compact SUV features a 2-row, 5-passenger cabin. Cloth is the seating material of choice in base models, with leather trim in top-line Limited versions. In base models, the driver's seat doesn't adjust for height, and no version of the Compass has a telescoping steering wheel, which makes it harder to find a perfect driving position. Rear legroom is good, and the rear seats fold in a 60/40 split to accommodate extra cargo. In Latitude and Limited trims, the rear seats also recline. The two higher versions also have a flat-folding passenger seat (see Favorite Features).
Among the Jeep family, the 2015 Compass has the softer, rounded shapes of the Grand Cherokee vs. the blocky image of the iconic Wrangler. Its front proudly presents the familial Jeep 7-slotted grille, but every other side of the Compass is mostly forgettable. Variants with the Freedom Drive II Off-Road Group gain skidplates and tow hooks for a tougher look. Unlike more and more competitors, you won't find a power-operated tailgate on the Jeep Compass.
In its least expensive Sport trim, the Compass has the bare minimum of today's creature comforts – air conditioning, cruise control and a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary jack – yet still lacks power windows and power door locks as standard. Stepping up to a mid-level Latitude model brings an automatic transmission, heated front seats, power windows and door locks, and leather-wrapped steering wheel with built-in audio buttons. Limited models come with leather-trim seating, the larger engine, 6-way power driver's seat, automatic climate control, universal garage-door opener and upgraded audio system with 6-disc changer and hard drive.
Options for the 2015 Compass range from the much needed (the $1,695 Power Value Group grants power windows and keyless entry to base models), to the much lauded (the Freedom Drive II package for off-roading). Other notable extras for the Compass SUV are rearview camera, navigation, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, sunroof, premium audio system and an engine-block heater. All models can be had with 4-wheel drive (4WD), and the larger engine is available on the lower trims (it's standard in top form). An array of Mopar parts and accessories is also available for this small Jeep SUV.
Two engines are available in the Jeep Compass: The base is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that's standard in front-wheel-drive (FWD) models of the Sport and Latitude models. The slightly better engine is the bigger and more powerful 2.4-liter that's standard in 4WD models and the top-line Limited. Base models can boast their low price in part to a 5-speed manual transmission, but most buyers will opt for the 6-speed automatic or continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Compass' towing capacity maxes out at a rather meager 2,000 pounds. Jeep's little SUV is rated up to 30 mpg on the highway for a manual-transmission model, but fuel economy of other models isn't dazzling. With the Freedom Drive Off-Road package, you're looking at numbers as low as 20 mpg for city driving.
158 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
141 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 mpg (FWD, manual), 21/28 mpg (FWD, automatic), 22/27 mpg (FWD, CVT)
172 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
165 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/28 mpg (FWD, manual), 21/28 mpg (FWD, automatic), 23/28 mpg (4WD, manual), 21/27 mpg (Freedom Drive I 4WD, automatic), 20/23 mpg (Freedom Drive II w/Off-Road package, 4WD, CVT)
With a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $19,800, the 2015 Jeep Compass remains one of the least expensive new crossover SUVs on the market. But as you climb trims, the Compass' value proposition diminishes and becomes a difficult vehicle to justify given its newer and better competition. At just over $22,000, a base Mazda CX-5, for example, attains up to 35 mpg, is far more fun to drive, and won't make you crank your own windows. Fully loaded, a 2015 Jeep Compass can pass the $30,000 mark, which could buy you a well-equipped and more modern Jeep Cherokee instead. If a new 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. Resale value is another sore spot for the Compass, as it tends to depreciate faster than competitors.