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2012 Jeep Compass

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2012 Jeep Compass Review

Hanging on by a thread

Reviewed by Automotive on

The 2012 Jeep Compass rolls into as the daintiest SUV in Jeep's lineup, and it shows. What it lacks in character the Compass makes up for in configurations of both the drivetrain and models offered. The front-grille borrowed from the Grand Cherokee is a step in the right direction but it might be too little too late, as Fiat is expected to step in with a replacement in the very near future.

The Compass still can't go off-roading well but Jeep deserves credit for retuning the continuously variable transmission (CVT) to be more livable. While front-wheel drive is not what Jeep is known for, at least there is an all-wheel drive option. Similar to its Liberty and Patriot siblings, the Compass lacks interior quality compared to others in its class. For those looking for a solid hatchback with rugged looks to haul groceries and family around town, the Compass is an adequate selection. But anybody who equates Jeep with off-roading should look elsewhere.

The Range

Body: SUV
Engines: 2.0-liter inline-4, 2.4-liter inline-4
Transmissions: five-speed manual, continuously variable transmission (CVT)
Models: Sport 4X2, Sport 4X4, Latitude 4X2, Latitude 4X4, Limited 4X2, Limited 4X4

What's New

Three new exterior colors, True Blue Pearl Coat, Copperhead Pearl Coat, and Rescue Green Pearl Coat are available for the 2012 Compass. Other improvements include refinements to the continuously- variable transmission, now in its second generation. Improved pedal responsiveness and lowered revolutions per minute are some results of this refinement. The available models have also been renamed.


After going through a refresh in 2011 the Compass carries a lot of exterior styling cues into 2012. A front grille inspired by its big brother, the Grand Cherokee, remains in place, and a 4X4 package also makes the cut for the latest model. No other noticeable sheet metal changes were made.


The Uconnect media center is the epicenter of all things media with an iPod interface, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, and Travel Link. A nine-speaker sound system lines the cabin and a power sunroof, and illuminated cup holders are available features on the Compass. Opting for the Latitude gets you a remote starter, heated cloth front seats, a fold-flat front passenger seat, 60/40 rear seat recline, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with speed and audio controls. Other standard features include air conditioning, power windows and locks, power/heated exterior mirrors, keyless entry, 17-inch aluminum wheels, fog lights, and anti-lock disc brakes.

Performance & Handling

The Compass can be configured with three different drivetrains with those being the standard front-wheel-drive system, Freedom Drive I and Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package. Motivation for the Compass comes from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 172 horsepower which is standard on the Limited but available on all trims. The Compass' continuously variable transmission is in its second generation and helps boost fuel economy with matched up against a traditional four-speed automatic gearbox. The Compass is rated to tow up to 2000 pounds.


The Compass features stability control, roll mitigation, Hill-start Assist, and side-curtain air bags that cover both the first and second row. Traction control, active front head restraints, side curtain airbags, and anti-lock brakes are also standard safety features.

EPA Fuel Economy

Front-wheel drive (automatic): 23 mpg city/ 27 mpg highway
Front-wheel drive (manual): 23 mpg city/ 29 mpg highway
All-wheel drive: 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway

You'll Like

  • Fuel economy

You Won't Like

  • Interior
  • Lacks on-road capabilities

Sum Up

Hanging on by a thread

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Subaru Forester
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Honda CR-V
  • Nissan Rogue

See the New 2015 Compass.

Front & Driver Side View