I recently attended the New England Motor Press Association’s annual awards dinner, in which we recognize the vehicles and automakers that handle our insane weather and road conditions with ease. Traveling to the events means a short road trip from Maine to south of Boston, which takes about three hours, depending on traffic. My ride to the event was a 2023 Hyundai Palisade, but on the way back, I hopped in the 2023 Jeep Compass.
It’s always fun to jump in a vehicle after these events because it’s usually dark, and I then have to drive the unfamiliar machine a few hours north while managing Boston traffic for half that time. I’ve always liked Jeep’s interior ergonomics, and the Compass is no exception, so it made a comfortable first impression. That said, it’s far from a perfect vehicle, and Jeep made some concessions to achieve the Compass’ superior off-road capability.
The new Compass gets expensive quickly
High Altitude trim: $39,235
Price as tested: $43,615
Jeep offers all manner of upgrade and options packages for the 2023 Compass, including the $2,640 driver assistance package, the $2,580 sun and sound package, and trim-specific packages like the $3,235 Trailhawk Elite options group. All-in, the Compass quickly passes the $40,000 mark, making it more expensive than many rivals. That’s a hard sell in a class that includes heavy hitters like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Hyundai Tucson.
The Compass got a new engine for 2023
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Output: 200 horsepower – 221 pound-feet of torque
Jeep outfitted the Compass with a new four-cylinder engine for the 2023 model year, bringing a healthy 200 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. It comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all Compass models now have all-wheel drive. The SUV isn’t quick, taking more than seven seconds to reach 60 mph, but it’s decent for commuting and in-town driving and holds its own on the highway. The increased power and torque over the previous engine gives the Compass solid off-road capability and makes it more fun to drive in everyday situations.
The 2023 Jeep Compass is surprisingly capable off-road
Standard Jeep Active Drive Low with 20:1 crawl ratio
Though it’s a compact SUV in a class with pavement-goers like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the Compass brings a more rugged attitude with legitimate off-road capability. Jeep offers a low-range mode with a 20:1 crawl ratio and a five-mode terrain management system. Depending on the model, the Compass gets off-road modes such as snow, sand, and mud, and the Trailhawk model gets a one-inch lift, skid plates, and beefy off-road tires. At the same time, the torque-rich turbocharged engine makes off-roading fun, helping the Compass dig out of rugged terrain.
Jeep equips a fantastic infotainment system
Standard 10.1-inch display with Uconnect 5
As part of the Stellantis family, Jeep has access to the incredible Uconnect infotainment software. It’s easily one of the most intuitive, responsive systems around, and it elevates the Compass from a basic compact SUV to one that is pleasurable to live with every day. Uconnect. Brings great features such as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM radio, Amazon Alexa capability, over-the-air updates, and Bluetooth. Top trims add navigation and HD radio to the mix, and an Alpine premium stereo is available.
The 2023 Jeep Compass is available with great advanced safety features
IIHS 2022 Top Safety Pick
The Compass hasn’t been tested under the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new side-crash program but earned top marks during testing in 2022. That score is partly due to the SUV’s excellent suite of advanced driver aids, including standard lane departure alerts, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, driver condition monitoring, forward collision warnings with active braking, and a backup camera. Jeep offers parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, and hill descent control.
The 2023 Jeep Compass is comfortable and spacious inside
Headroom (front/rear): 39.2in/38.5in
Cargo (behind second row): 27.2 cubic feet
Beyond offering a generous amount of space for people, the Compass gets reasonably nice materials throughout, especially in higher trims. Cloth upholstery comes standard, and the Latitude model gets vinyl seating, but the three top trims get nice leather that gives the SUV a luxurious feel. Front-seat heating and ventilation also come with higher trims, making the Compass a comfy cruiser most times of the year. The front buckets are deep, supportive, and offer great padding, while the rear bench is decently shaped and remains comfy on longer trips.
Jeep does not offer a hybrid Compass
Fuel Economy: 24/32/27 mpg city/highway/combined
Though it offers decent fuel economy, the Compass is one of few models in its class to lack a hybrid option. Jeep does make a plug-in hybrid powertrain, available for the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, but it hasn’t made its way into the automaker’s smaller models. Compared to others in its class, the Compass is ok, but gas models like the RAV4 AWD do better, returning 25/33/28 mpg.
The 2023 Jeep Compass brings plenty to like, and it’s the one to pick if you do any manner of off-roading. It’s also surprisingly well-behaved on the road, so there’s little tradeoff. Having said that, the Compass gets expensive at the top end, which is where the best features and nicest materials live. Because of that, it’s tough to opt for the Compass against another compact SUV that delivers more features for the money. There’s also the question of updated crash tests, as the new IIHS format knocked several Top Safety Picks off the list.
2023 Jeep Compass Competitors
The Compass lives in a cutthroat segment packed with great vehicles from automakers around the globe.
2023 Ford Bronco Sport
The Bronco Sport is likely the Jeep’s closest competitor, as it offers similar off-road capability and a rugged attitude that matches the Compass. It’s available in an extensive range of trims and configurations, and all are capable on the trails as well as the street.
2023 Toyota RAV4
The RAV4 is an old-timer in the segment but remains one of the top models. Toyota sells it in a wide range of configurations, and it’s available with both hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.
2023 Honda CR-V
The CR-V got a complete overhaul for 2023, bringing refined styling and a much-improved interior. It’s also available in a hybrid format that delivers strong acceleration and a surprisingly engaging driving experience.
2023 Hyundai Tucson
The Tucson is available with hybrid power, bringing one of the better technology setups in its segment.
2023 Jeep Compass Pricing
Prices do not include the $1,595 destination charge, options, or taxes.
Latitude Lux: $34,390
High Altitude: $39,235