The 2018 Jeep Compass has style, substance and impressive technology, all wrapped in a compact SUV form with a tempting starting price around $22,000. The Compass is something of a "tweener," slotting between the subcompact Renegade and the compact Cherokee, though style-wise it resembles the Grand Cherokee flagship. In Trailhawk form it has impressive off-road ability.
You'll Like The 2018 Jeep Compass If...
More than just a small Jeep at an affordable price, the 2018 Compass looks good, is comfortable, and surprisingly quiet on the road. And unlike other small SUVs, this one is quite capable off-road, especially when dressed in Trailhawk trim.
You May Not Like The 2018 Jeep Compass If...
There's no alternative to the somewhat anemic 180-horsepower engine in the Compass, while competitors like the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson offer turbocharged upgrades. Additionally, the 9-speed automatic transmission can feel hesitant to shift.
The Jeep Compass was all-new just last year, so there are only minor changes for 2018. You can now get a high-end Limited model in front-wheel drive (FWD), not just 4-wheel drive (4WD).
If you've driven a Jeep in the past couple years, the Compass' 5-passenger interior will be distinctly familiar. There are big vents flanking the dash's outer edge and the infotainment screen, comfortable seats for the front two occupants, and controls that are easy to use and find. Rear-seat passengers are treated to 38.3 inches of legroom -- more than a Toyota Camry sedan -- and there's over 27 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats, plenty for gear and shopping bags. Folding the seats more than doubles that space, to just under 60 cubic feet.
The 2018 Jeep Compass looks like a smaller Grand Cherokee, which is welcome to our eyes. A black, 2-tone roof is standard on the Trailhawk and Limited models, and optional on the Latitude. The Compass has its share of "Easter eggs" -- hidden design elements like the Loch Ness monster on the rear hatch glass -- that will surprise and delight buyers. Limited models offer more chrome on the exterior, while Trailhawk models double down on off-road ruggedness with increased ground clearance, skidplates, a blackout anti-glare hood and snazzy red tow hooks.
The 2018 Jeep Compass is built on the same underpinnings as the smaller Jeep Renegade and larger Jeep Cherokee, and it behaves like a successful blend of the two. The 9-speed automatic transmission that's the only choice for 4WD automatic-transmission models hampers power delivery from the 180-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, and we shut off the intrusive start/stop system. (A 6-speed automatic is offered for front-drive models, and a 6-speed manual is standard on lower trims.) When the road begins to twist and turn, the Compass isn't as nimble as competitors like the Kia Sportage or Mazda's CX-3 or CX-5. But nothing can touch the Compass Trailhawk off-road, thanks to its raised ride height, more rugged tires (including a full-size spare), skidplates, a special crawl mode that locks the transmission in first gear, an additional Rock mode in the 4WD system, and more off-road-oriented hardware and technology.
The 2018 Jeep Compass has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $22,000 including destination charge. Add $1,500 if you want 4-wheel drive. The Latitude is more recommendable, but is also over $3,000 more. The Trail Rated Jeep Compass Trailhawk starts just shy of $30,000. With options, the Trailhawk and Limited Compass can reach over $34,000. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. In addition to its tweener-size status, the Compass' pricing also sits between subcompact SUVs like its Renegade brother and the Honda HR-V, and compact SUVs like its other brother the Cherokee and the Honda CR-V. Similar in price are the Subaru Crosstrek and the new Nissan Rogue Sport. The Jeep Compass' resale value is expected to be fair, trailing the sterling residuals of the vaunted Jeep Wrangler.
The Jeep Compass is offered in four trims: Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk and Limited. The least expensive Jeep Compass Sport model comes with some respectable features for its roughly $22,000 starting price, including keyless entry and push-button start, rearview camera and a 6-speaker infotainment system with 5-inch touch screen, Bluetooth streaming and voice control. We recommend stepping up to the Latitude model. In addition to more standard features like automatic headlights, cornering fog lights, 17-inch wheels, ambient interior lighting and illuminated vanity mirrors, it opens the door for options like the power-adjustable driver's seat, navigation and safety systems like blind-spot monitoring.
The Compass is available in both Sport and Latitude models with 4WD and a manual transmission, a rare combination these days. The Jeep Compass Trailhawk includes leather interior, dual-zone climate control, 7-inch color LCD display and 8.4-inch Uconnect center display with a 1-year subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration (a 7-inch version is optional on Sport and Latitude models). Top-line Limited models get 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats and auto-dimming rearview mirror. Options include a Beats premium audio system and active-safety features like lane-keep assistance, blind-spot monitoring and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking.
The Compass Trailhawk is a unique proposition in the compact-crossover SUV segment. With lifted ride height, a low-range setup -- not a 2-range transfer case, though -- and other mechanical and electronic tricks, it's far more capable in off-road situations than you might expect a car-based crossover SUV to be.
We already like the Uconnect system in various Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Fiat models, and this latest version fixes what few complaints we had. It's far quicker, with a faster response to tapping the screen. And importantly, it incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Under the Hood
The only engine for the Compass is a 180-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder powering either the front or all four wheels. A 6-speed manual comes standard on all Sport models, and is available on 4WD Latitude models. If you want a FWD Compass with an automatic, it's going to be a 6-speed, while 4WD models get the 9-speed automatic. Automatic-equipped Compasses get a start/stop system that cuts engine power at idle. Fuel economy is pretty good; manual FWD Compass models get up to 32 mpg on the highway. The engine is smooth and quiet enough, but power is only adequate for an SUV that weighs up to 3,600 pounds in Trailhawk form. Note that 4WD Compass models can tow up to 2,000 pounds, respectable for this size SUV.
180 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
175 lb-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/32 mpg (FWD, manual), 22/31 mpg (4WD manual, FWD automatic), 22/30 mpg (4WD automatic)
All-new just last year, the Jeep Compass looks and feels significantly better than the vehicle it replaced. The new Compass has style, substance and impressive technology, all wrapped in a compact SUV form with a tempting starting price around $22,000. The 2018 Jeep Compass is something of a "tweener," slotting between the subcompact Renegade and the compact Cherokee, though style-wise it resembles the handsome Grand Cherokee flagship. The Compass is small enough to be easy to maneuver, but large enough to make its presence known and deliver a comfortable highway ride. The Compass isn't the most powerful compact SUV, but it upholds its Jeep credentials by being able to outperform rivals like the Nissan Rogue Sport and Hyundai Tucson when the pavement ends.