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The first 2007-2017 Jeep Compass: Ten years of growth

The controversial Jeep Compass was an odd mix of car and SUV — not to mention Jeep and Mitsubishi. Though they were Jeep’s first front wheel drive crossovers, and the first modern Jeeps that were not Rubicon-capable, the first Compass was also not the “mall rated car” of forum trash-talk.

Jeep Compass crossing logs

Along with its siblings (the Jeep Patriot and Dodge Caliber), the Compass had independent front-strut and multi-link rear suspensions. It took years for a “Trail Rated” model, capable of more than casual off-roading, to finally appear — complete with tough and rigid bodies. Inside, the Patriot and Compass shared dashboards and other parts.

compass offroad

The Mitsubishi connection came from the basic platform, which was modified from the Galant family. The Japanese company’s version is the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Even the engine was a joint venture — based on a Hyundai block, and modified by Mitsubishi and DaimlerChrysler (each company had their own heads, electronics, and fuel delivery).

In 2007, the Jeep Compass started at $17,805; in the 2017, it hadn’t grown that much pricier, starting at $19,940 with more standard equipment.

Jeep Compass SUV

Power came from the new 172-horsepower 2.4-liter “World Engine;” critics claimed its high peak horsepower came at the cost of overall drivability, and that it sounded like a sewing machine when revved high (as it needed to be). The manual was a T355 five-speed, and the automatic was a Continuously Variable Transaxle (CVT) that accentuated the engine’s natural buzziness, unless buyers used the optional simulated-six-speed manual control. In some countries, but not the US or Canada, Jeep used a Volkswagen diesel.

The Compass had 52.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded flat; atypical features (at launch) were an optional flip-down rear speaker setup for tailgating, a fold-flat front passenger seat, optional reclining rear seats, and standard side airbags. It had an antimicrobial, anti-stain seat fabric — tough and scratchy — that was eventually replaced.

jeep compass cargo space

Compass’ optional full-time all wheel drive system had a “Lock” mode for deep snow, sand, and such. The car had traction and stability control with roll mitigation, and anti-lock brakes with rough-road detection; 60-0 mph stopping distance was 125 feet.

Wheels were 17 or 18 inches. Standard equipment included fog lamps, CD radio with an audio jack, foldaway mirrors, tilt steering, and a center console sliding armrest that moved forward 3 inches to accommodate shorter drivers.

EPA MPG 2.0 2.4 FWD 2.4 AWD
2007-10 Man 23/29
23/28 23/28
2007-10 CVT 23/27 21/25 21/24
2011-16 Man23/28 21/27* 22/28*

* Auto, 21/27; CVT, 21/26 mpg
There were numerous body colors at launch — green, khaki, two reds, two blues, silver, black, and white — but all had a two-tone interior of dark and lighter shades of gray or beige. The cabin was criticized for looking blocky and unfinished; some of the plastic had sharp edges.

inside the jeep compass

Just after the Compass was released, Chrysler was handed to Cerberus, which started an interior redesign, adding better materials and more graceful lines, and retuning suspensions for a better on-road feel. The results could be seen in the 2009 Jeep Compass and Patriot, which shared the same interiors.

patriot dash

New gizmos were LED-illuminated cupholders and an optional 30-gigabyte-hard-drive music system which could play movies or provide navigation with traffic. Many changes were made to options packages, including a Freedom Drive II AWD system.

compass interior

Jeep slashed noise by adding sound insulation and adding a resonator on AWD cars; the FWD resonator was enlarged. Revised suspension tuning on Sport smoothed the ride. Compass buyers were 51% female, with a median age of 39, according to Automotive News.

2011 Jeep Compass dashboard

The upgrades continued with the 2010 Jeep Compass, which gained active head restraints, optional remote start, and automatic climate control on the Limited. Adding a 2.0 liter engine raised entry-level gas mileage. The Canadian North Plus added heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and speed control to the North Edition.

The 2009-10 changes, being under the skin and inside the cabin, weren’t visible from outside; so Jeep, now under Fiat control, changed the outer appearance, while upgrading the interior again.

2011 compass

Jeep upgraded the steering and suspension, and made the Freedom Drive II package more serious: the ride height was raised by one inch, and the bundle included a full size spare, skid plates, tow hooks, and a manual seat adjuster. Now, the Compass could finally earn Trail Rated status —  it showed up on Press Day at the Chelsea Proving Grounds’ off-road course.


These changes clearly changed demand for the Compass, which scored its best-ever sales and, aside from a drop back in 2012, would keep its upward momentum.

2011 Compass interior

Interior upgrades included a steering wheel with audio and phone controls, standard cruise, and control backlighting; air conditioning became standard, along with power windows and locks, power mirrors, fog lamps, body-color spoiler, and LED tail-lights.

2011 Compass
2014 Compass
2014 Compass
Trail Rated
Approach 21.1° 20.3 20.6 29.6
Breakover 21° 21.0 20.6 23.6
Departure 32° 32.2 28.5 31.2
8” 8.4 8.1 9.1

The Compass gained hill start assist with the manual transmission; the brakes would stay on for a few seconds, until the clutch engaged, to prevent rollbacks on hills. Other changes included a new hood, front fenders, fascias, headlamps, grille, projector fog lamps, brightwork, and roof rails.

2011 Jeep Compass spy shot

The 2-liter pushed out 158 hp and 141 lb-ft of torque to the Chrysler-engineered T355 manual transaxle; the 2.4 was unchanged. Towing capacity rose to 2,000 pounds, aided by higher spring and damping rates, added rebound springs, and a heavier duty rear sway bar on all models.


With a new generation still being developed, Jeep invested further into the Compass, addressing the biggest complaint of many customers and potential buyers: the CVT.

2014 jeep compass headlights

The company put a six-speed Hyundai automatic into the 2014 Jeep Compass, using the Magna Dynamax all wheel drive system for “Freedom Drive I.” The 6F24 automatic had a 5.46 gear spread, with a 4.21:1 first gear and 0.77:1 top gear (see all gear ratios on Dart-Mouth). The transmission was a “fill-for-life” design.

Trail Rated models had to stick with the CVT.


Other changes were an optional backup camera, plated upper grille trim and colored-silver grille texture on Latitude and Limited, a black inner bezel in the headlamps (with projector halogens on Limited), “smoked” inner bezels on tail-lights, and a plated chrome insert on the tailgate.

Jeep Compass

Inside, saddle brown perforated leather seats were optional on Limited, while Latitude got a new mesh-and-vinyl seat; regardless, buyers got a refaced gauge cluster and satin chrome finishes.

In 2015, Jeep added a “blacked out” theme to the Altitude, and created a new “High Altitude” with Freedom Drive I, leather, power sunroof, power six-way driver seat, and 17-inch wheels. A dome light finally replaced the removable flashlight.

For 2016, the models were Sport, Sport SE, and Latitude. 2017, the final and rather brief year, saw some changes to the packages, and no more Sport SE. See the second generation 2017 Jeep Compass.

The constant redesigns under Cerberus and Fiat had borne fruit: sales shot up in 2011, and kept rising. Ironically, both the Compass and Patriot had their best year of U.S. sales in 2016 — their final year.

All first-generation Jeep Compasses were made in Belvidere, Illinois.

U.S. Sales

Year Caliber Compass Patriot US Sales
2006 92,224 18,579 0 110,803
2007 101,079 39,491 40,434 181,004
2008 84,158 25,349 55,654 165,161
2009 36,098 11,739 31,432 79,269
2010 45,082 15,894 38,620 99,596
2011 35,049 47,709 54,647 137,405
2012 10,176 40,235 62,010 112,421
2013 0 52,993 75,797 128,790
2014 0 61,264 93,462 154,726
2015 0 71,448 121,274 192,722
2016 0 94,061 121,926 215,987

Jeep Compass Rallye concept car

Jeep Compass Rallye concept carThe Jeep Compass Rallye concept car debuted at the same time as the Jeep Rescue; it was styled more like the Liberty, and was intended to have a rally-car image, that was, fast dirt off-roading rather than slow rock-climbing and water-traversing.

The Compass styling was intended to look athletic and sleek, so that while it shared the same basic platform as the Patriot, it did look like a completely different chassis. Like the Patriot, it had electronic four wheel drive and off-road components.

2007 Jeep Compass review2014 Compass review/test drive2013 Compass off-road
2012 review 2008 Jeep Patriot FWD off-road

Design dimensions / specifications

 All Compass2007-102011+ Compass
Wheelbase 103.7 (2635)  
Track, F/R59.8 (1520)  
Length173.4 (4405)  
Width69.3 (1761)  
Height 64.265.2
Overhang F/R 34.5/35.134.5/35.2
Weight, 2WD (base)3089 (1404)3082 (1398)
Weight, 4WD(base)3,245 (1,472)3,247 (1,382)
CdA aero  10.5 FWD, 10.6 4WD
Weight dist.  59/41 FWD, 57/43 4WD
Headroom F/R(w/out sunroof)40.9 / 39.940.7 / 39.9
Legroom F/R 40.6 / 39.340.6 / 39.4
Shoulder room, F/R 54.054.6
SAE rear seat volume49.1 (1.391)  
SAE front seat volume55.2   
SAE interior volume 101.6 (2.877)101.3 (2.87)
Cargo vol., seats up 21. 9 (0.621)22.7 (0.643)
Cargo, seats down  52.5 (1.487)53.6 (1.519)
Interior volume index  123.5 (3.498)124 (3.512)

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