Thirsty Little Crossover Best Kept On-Road
That engine is a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder with 172 hp mated to a continuously variable transmission. Along with the new look, Jeep added a crawling ratio to the transmission in an effort to increase the car’s off-road credibility though the fact remains that this is far from being a Wrangler. That being said, the Compass handled a two-track patch with ease, taking soft spots gracefully with four-wheel drive engaged.
Lower gearing and a “trail rated” badge are part of the off-road package, but after living with it for a week we would pass on the upgrade every time. You’re probably never going to take the Compass into serious off-road territory – it doesn’t have the ground clearance or power to feel comfortable there and does have the disadvantage of the “Freedom II” package that whacks everyday gas mileage down to abysmal figures. During city driving we struggled to squeak out 16 mpg and a frustrating 21 on the open highway. Driving a nannyish 50 mph we managed to get 25 mpg, but you risk being pulled over for driving too slow in some parts of the country at that pace.
Realistically, the Compass is a suburban pavement pounder built for year-round grocery runs. Don’t fool yourself into thinking otherwise: skip the off-road package and enjoy the better fuel economy.