It’s been three and a half years since we first tested the compact Jeep Compass, and some recent updates have put Jeep’s smallest five-door utility back on our radar. Compass remains something of an oddity for Jeep. Sharing much with the Dodge Caliber, it forgoes the brand’s “Trail Rated” status, being more suitable for first time car buyers and urban use.

While the exterior wears Jeep’s distinctive seven-bar grille and round headlights, styling has barely changed. 

But, last year the interior got a badly needed makeover. Gone are the shiny plastics and rough edges that detracted from the fine overall package. High grade semi-gloss materials, and thin chrome rings around the gauges and vents, show this Jeep has gone from cheap to almost chic. We like the extra convenience of the spit-lid center console, and the LED lit cupholders are hard to miss at night. Active head restraints are now standard too.

The biggest news for 2010 is under the hood. Chrysler’s 2.0-liter, 158-horsepower four-cylinder joins a first time manual transmission as the standard 4X2 powertrain. This finally gives Compass a sporty feel. Fuel economy improves too. Government Ratings are 23 City/29 Highway. A CVT automatic is an option.

A larger 2.4-liter remains the only engine in the 4x4 Compass, which is equipped with “Freedom Drive I” active four-wheel-drive system. While not intended for off-road use, the combination of locking center coupling and 8.4-inches of ground clearance proved very capable in our recent nasty weather.

“There’s no mistaking the Compass for a built Wrangler on swampers. But still, 4x4 models will get you through any bad weather, and the everyday road manners won’t beat you up on the compute. It provides lots of people and cargo room in a small shape, and it’s one of the cheapest all-wheel drive crossovers you can buy.” – Ben Davis

Available now, the 2010 Jeep Compass starts under $20,000.


"The Vue Two-Mode Hybrid proves that power and efficiency can coexist, and in a modern crossover you can have them both without skimping on any ability." – Ben Davis


  • 2.0-liter, four-cylinder:
  • 158 horsepower:
  • Starting under $20,000: