Test Drive: 2014 Jeep Compass Latitude Review

Jerry Reynolds | August 13, 2014
Test Drive: 2014 Jeep Compass Latitude Review

I will warn you upfront, this review is going to be a mixed bag. I consider myself to be a real fan of Jeep overall. Let me summarize this early, there are things I like about the Jeep Compass, and things I absolutely hate.

The Compass debuted in 2007 to little fanfare. Since that time, there have been improvements for sure, and an exterior change in 2011 that created the look of a mini Grand Cherokee. This front wheel drive SUV comes with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in two- wheel drive models, and with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder in the four-wheel drive versions.

My review vehicle is the Latitude 4x4 package, so it has the 2.4 4-cylinder that puts out 172-horses. Below the Latitude package is the Sport Package, and above it is the Limited package. The Compass is the most car-like SUV Jeep offers.

Compass drives OK, it has more road noise than I like, but the ride is fine, not too rough. Torque steer is a problem, if you stomp on it, hold the steering wheel tight, it’s going to dive left or right. Handling is good, which is a characteristic of Jeeps.

The Latitude package is sort of what I call the “no frills” package. It has cloth and vinyl seats, what appears to be a lot of cheap plastic throughout the interior, and frankly it is sort of bland on the inside. It comes with standard equipment such as power windows and locks, keyless entry, heated front seats, tilt wheel, cruise control, a leather wrapped steering wheel with a few controls, and premium fog lamps. It has 17” aluminum wheels and with the Freedom II package, a real spare tire.

The room in the Compass is actually quite good. There is plenty of room for two adults in the back seat, and headroom for all passengers is surprisingly good. The rear compartment has 22.7-cubic feet of storage, and if you fold the second row seat down, that increases to 53.6-cubic feet of storage.

Options-wise, this Compass has Chrysler’s terrific Uconnect System. Uconnect gives you Bluetooth, MP3, and voice command, all run from a colorful 6.5” touchscreen. For the record, I think the Chrysler Uconnect screen is the easiest and most intuitive of any vehicle I’ve ever been in. Everything is right where you can see it. With many of these type systems, you have to go through numerous pages just to change the radio. You can even post pictures for the welcome screen. Uconnect is a bargain at $495.

For $895, you get the backup camera, which also includes a 40-GB hard drive to store your music, and remote start. I think this is a good package too, and worth the extra money.

Here is where everything goes south. Whatever you do, stay away from the Freedom Drive II package. The cost is $650 and I’d pay double that not to have it. This is an off-road package that includes the full-sized spare, tow hooks, skid plates, hill start assist, a wiring harness, Trail Rated badges on the fenders, oil cooler, and all-season mats. Sounds pretty good, huh? With the Freedom Drive II package, you get the continuously variable transmission (CVT). Every other 2.4-liter Compass comes with the six-speed automatic, including the Freedom I package.

The CVT in this Compass is horrible. It is incredibly sluggish and you end up putting the gas pedal to the floor just to get the Compass moving. It is jerky upon deceleration and over all, it just drives you crazy. I can only imagine that Chrysler had some of these transmissions left over and picked this package to try to get rid of them. If you are a serious four-wheeler, the Freedom II package has a selectable locking Off-Road mode with Hill Descent Control along with grade sensing features. When not in low speed Off-Road lock mode, torque is adjusted on-demand for added fuel efficiency. This system’s all-weather capability and control handles difficult road situations both on and off-road including deep snow, mud and up to 19 inches of water. It is still not worth putting up with the CVT.

To make matters worse, the same engine with the 6-speed automatic is fuel economy rated at 21-city/27 highway. With the CVT it is 20-city/23 highway. I was so excited to try the Compass with the 6-speed; I have driven the Compass and Patriot with the CVT and hated it. I had heard that they all had the 6-speed now, imagine my surprise to get this one. I strongly recommend Chrysler pull all the Freedom II packages out of the press fleet, you are not doing yourself any favors.

Price-wise, it would be a bargain if it had the other transmission.

What I liked most: Interior room, the Uconnect system, and exterior looks.

What I would change: Obviously the transmission.

MSRP: Base price $24,495-as equipped $27,530.

Fuel Economy: 20 City/23 highway/21 combined.

Odometer reading when tested: 1130 miles.

Weight: 3171 Pounds.

Length-Width-Height: 175.1” long/71.4” wide/65” High

Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.6 gallons.

Towing Capacity: 2000 pounds.

2014 Compass in a few words: Make sure you don’t get the Freedom II package and you’ll like the Compass.

Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance.

Despreporno Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars*

*Reviewers Note: I believe with the 6-speed automatic, this SUV would rate at 4 out of 5 stars.

Manufacturer’s website:

Dealers: We have great Jeep dealers in Austin, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Los Angeles. http://despreporno.info/car-pro-approved-dealers/

Tags: 2014, jeep, compass, latitude
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