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The Jeep Compass was first introduced back in 2007, and it was aimed at a crowd who loved Jeeps but didn’t need a trail-rated vehicle. It wasn’t until the 2011 models were released that Jeep decided to change the platform of the Compass to make it trail-worthy while still serving as a vehicle for comfortable in-town driving. Jeep understood that having a Jeep could be the best of two worlds, to own a vehicle capable of handling rough terrain for weekend fun and then go back to picking up groceries and taking the kids to school without missing a beat. If you’re looking for a used Jeep Compass, the best year to begin searching is 2011.
Once the trail capabilities were added to the Compass, it also received interior and exterior upgrades to make it more upscale and attractive. Packages were made available to make the Compass more trail-ready, adding features like skid plates, off-road tires, four-wheel drive, and a low-speed transfer case. All Compass models were given a raised platform for increased height and received improvements to the suspension system for better off-road handling. In 2016, the Compass was redesigned once again, now sharing a resemblance to the Grand Cherokee. When equipped with the Freedom Drive II package, it gained enough off-road capability to rank better than most standard crossover SUVs.
Over the last decade, the Jeep Compass had a few trim changes when the 2016 redesign occurred, but features like the off-road packages, Sun and Sound Package, and the Security and Cargo group incorporate all the options buyers may wish to have in their used Compass. Fuel efficiency is surprisingly good at an average of about 25 MPG combined across the years, a factor which is helped by the efficient four-cylinder engines under the hood. Every Jeep Compass trim is eligible for four-wheel drive, and it’s worth seeking that in a used Compass if you need to drive in wintry weather or on rough dirt roads. Cargo space, especially with the seats folded down, is generous, and even the base trim will come loaded with features like the Uconnect system, liftgate speakers, soft-touch materials, fog lights, roof rails, and standard with front-wheel drive.
If you’re going to purchase a used Compass, you might as well go for the luxurious upper trims that offer more features and comforts. If you purchase a Compass between 2011-2015, you could find three possible trims available: Sport, Latitude, and Limited, with the Limited being the premium trim. What you’ll find when you take in the exterior appearance is the recognizable seven-slot Jeep grille surrounded by chrome accents, the nod to Jeep’s classic round headlights ensconced in the eye-like casing below the brow line of the hood. It’s a handsome SUV on the outside, and on the inside, you’ll find stitched leather seats to set off the continued nod to Jeep’s past in the round vents, dials, and even stereo speakers.
While even the Sport trim will have a good range of standard features, the Limited comes standard with upgrades like automatic climate control, sunroof, HD radio, and heated seats. When equipped with certain packages, the Limited trim could have Bluetooth, a premium audio system, or remote start. Finding one with the Freedom Drive package added will give the Compass more off-road capability and will include four-wheel drive, which utilizes an independent suspension system to drive power to the wheels with the most traction.
In 2016 and 2017, the Jeep Compass switched to two available trims: the Sport and Latitude. Each trim has an extra sub-trim, and for the Latitude, it is the High Altitude Edition. Like the older Limited trim, the Latitude will have a similar look to the previous design with those more noticeable nods to classic Jeep details for 2016 and 2017 models. In 2018, the exterior moved away from the boxy frame, getting a shapely squeeze in the midsection and added detail of black cladding, blacked-out grille, and black wheels for the trail-rated Trailhawk trim. If you’re going for the upscale models, this is the one to get.
From 2018 to the present, the Compass has a decidedly swankier appearance, which has veered toward a more modern detailing in the shape of the lights, vents, and other noticeable features. The sunroof, which previously only covered the front seats, now stretches nearly the length of the vehicle, and while the exterior will have black details, the interior will have chrome accents. Leather stitched seats and soft-touch materials will lend themselves to a comfortable but sporty interior with plenty of room for five passengers. Drive modes will make it easy to switch the traction and steering control to attune to the terrain, and four-wheel drive will tackle any weather and manage light off-road duties.
Jeep’s Uconnect system is renowned for being easy to use, and in the last decade, it has gained a number of features that make driving easier and more fun. While the climate controls can be accessed through the infotainment screen in the center stack, there are also thoughtfully-placed dials and buttons to manage the system. The audio system and other settings are accessed through the infotainment screen, and depending on the year of the Compass, it could have Bluetooth, navigation, satellite radio, and smartphone connectivity. Controls for the voice-activated systems that are available on newer model years are located on the steering wheel, as are buttons for the audio system and cruise control.
Sitting inside the Compass, the interior will offer comfort for longer drives and armrests for both the driver and passengers. Cup holders can be found in the front center console, where there will also be a deep storage bin, and in the back behind the center console. Rear seats offer a 60/40 split to increase cargo space, though the rear cargo area is already rather large at over 27 cubic feet. Powered controls for windows, door locks, and mirrors will also activate the heated exterior mirrors for those icy cold days, and many Compass models provide lumbar control for the driver’s seat and heated front seats.
When most Jeeps are pricey, and out of reach for many buyers, the Compass has a far more affordable price tag, especially when you purchase used. The Compass is a great entry vehicle for those who love Jeeps but don’t plan to do much off-road adventuring like the dedicated enthusiasts. Instead, you can enjoy a more comfortable ride on paved roads for most of the driving you do and then occasionally head out into the wilderness for a little taste of the wildlife. Look for the Jeeps with four-wheel drive for the adventurous side of driving, or choose front-wheel drive if you prefer better fuel efficiency and a lower purchase price.