Jeep Compass SUV (2006-2016)
“The Jeep Compass is a tough and well-equipped rival to the Nissan Qashqai, but a poor safety rating and cramped rear seats mean it struggles against the competition.”
- Feels solid to drive
- Well equipped as standard
- Strong diesel engine
- Rear seat space
- Poor quality dashboard materials
- Boxy styling
The Jeep Compass was an important car for the iconic American brand. As the first Jeep to be available with two-wheel-drive, the Compass was aimed directly at the popular Nissan Qashqai and Ford Kuga: chunky-looking SUVs that spend most of their time on the road, rather than off it.
The Compass has since been replaced by the Jeep Renegade, a far more appealing car that – while not perfect – addresses some of the Compass’ more notable compromises. Chief among these were a poor two-star (out of five) safety rating from Euro NCAP, a cheap-feeling interior, limited rear legroom and a noisy driving experience.
Aside from these issues, the Compass was a reasonably competent car. The driving experience – though noisy – was pretty enjoyable, while (if you went for a four-wheel-drive model) it was more capable off road than the Nissan Qashqai or Volkswagen Tiguan. You could choose from two petrol engines and a single 2.2-litre diesel, with the latter being our pick thanks to its better fuel economy.
If you’re in the market for an SUV like the Compass, find out what we think is the best SUV by watching our video below.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The Compass’ 2.2-litre diesel engine is the most efficient in the range, returning 46.3mpg and emitting 161g/km of CO2, resulting in road tax of £185 a year. While these are by no means stellar figures, they’re better than the other engines can offer; the 2.0-litre petrol returns 37.2mpg and emits 175g/km of CO2 (making road tax £210 a year), while the range-topping 2.4-litre petrol was even thirstier, barely managing 30mpg. The petrol engines also need servicing more frequently than the diesel, adding to your running costs. Factor in the Compass’ relatively poor second-hand values and you’re left with a car that’s significantly more expensive to run than the competition.
Fortunately, the Compass’ replacement – the Jeep Renegade – is far more efficient, returning 64.3mpg when fitted with the 1.6-litre diesel engine. In fact, even the thirstiest four-wheel-drive Renegade is barely any less efficient than the most economical Compass.
Do note that your engine choice affects which wheels of the car are driven: the 2.0-litre petrol engine is two-wheel-drive only, the 2.4-litre petrol is four-wheel-drive only, while diesel customers can have either two or four-wheel-drive.
Engines, drive & performance
If you’re in the market for a hugely capable off-road car, the Compass is definitely worth a look; its high ground clearance, capable engines andexcellent four-wheel-drive system – not to mention Jeep’s off-road know-how – mean it excels in this area. As a road car, however, the Compass is somewhat lacking. It may not lean in corners as much as you’d expect, but the vague steering detracts significantly from the overall driving experience.
The gearboxes also disappoint: there are two manuals as standard - with either five or six gears - and they’re both clunky to use. You may want to consider an automatic but this is only available with the top-of-the-range 2.4-litre petrol model, making it an expensive proposition.
Performance is more respectable, with even the entry-level 2.0-litre petrol engine taking the Compass from 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds; the 2.2-litre diesel is marginally quicker, taking 9.8 seconds to do the same when fitted with four-wheel-drive. The 2.4-litre petrol engine’s 0-62mph time of 10.5 seconds means performance is underwhelming considering the performance on offer.
Interior & comfort
If you get in a Compass having recently been in a Nissan Qashqai or Volkswagen Tiguan, you may get a bit of a shock. We can forgive the Compass for its low-rent dashboard design and scratchy plastics (it was cheaper than many of its key rivals, after all) but once on the move the noise is harder to overlook.
Whether you go for petrol or diesel, the Compass’ engines are loud, particularly when accelerating. This, coupled with pronounced wind and road noise at motorway speed, means driving a Compass is anything but relaxing. Back seat passengers will have cramped conditions in addition to this discomfort, as the Compass has limited rear legroom and a poor seating position.
Practicality & boot space
To give it its due, the Compass’ 458-litre boot (which rises to 1,269 litres with the rear seats folded) is larger than the Nissan Qashqai’s, while the wide opening means loading bulky objects is easy.
Inside, things head downhill somewhat. We’ve already mentioned the limited rear legroom, but it’s worth pointing out how little space there is for backseat passengers’ feet and that there is a very pronounced hump in the middle of the floor. This means there isn’t really anywhere for the middle-seat passenger to put their feet, so for long journeys you’re best thinking of the Compass as a four-seater. The rear doorbins are similarly tight and can’t even take a decent-size bottle of water.
Up front, the Compass’ high ride height means forwards visibility is excellent, though the view out the back is compromised slightly by the large rear pillars. It’s also difficult to find the right driving position as the steering wheel adjusts up and down, but not in and out.
Reliability & safety
Jeep’s reputation has improved somewhat of late, and its 11th place finish out of 32 manufacturers in our 2016 Driver Power survey attests to this. Reliability is less impressive, though, with a 31st place result in this area. Still, the Compass feels well built and there have been no major issues reported.
Safety is more of a concern, as the Compass only scored two out of a possible five stars in its Euro NCAP crash tests. Its 76% child occupant rating is reasonable, but a middling 61% adult occupant and poor 23% pedestrian safety scores may give some pause for thought. You do get six airbags, (mandatory) electronic stability control and a clever rollover prevention system.
Price, value for money & options
Although it’s no longer on sale, the Compass’ relatively low starting price (it was about £1,500 cheaper than a Nissan Qashqai) and generous kit list made it an attractive prospect at first glance – although Jeeps don’t tend to have the strongest second-hand values, so it wasn’t not quite the bargain it first appeared.
Entry-level Sport trim includes all-round electric windows, air-conditioning, foglights, alloy wheels and iPod connectivity. Sport + cars have extra airbags, Bluetooth connectivity and upgraded air-conditioning, while top-spec Limited and 70th Anniversary models have heated leather seats, larger alloy wheels and four-wheel-drive as standard.