Used Car Review

2008 Jeep Compass: Used Car Review

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author photo by Ron Sessions November 2016

The 2008 Jeep Compass compact SUV is a car-based 4-door hatchback that shares underpinnings with the Jeep Patriot and Dodge Caliber. It was the brand's first-ever model available with both front-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive. The Compass offers ride and handling, step-in height and fuel economy more akin to a car's than a truck-based SUV's. A 172-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder provides satisfactory performance and is available with a 5-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Optional is a smaller 158-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that on paper at least gets slightly better mileage. The Compass will carry five passengers (only four comfortably) and 22.7 cu ft. of cargo (up to 60.7 cu ft. with the rear seat and passenger front seat folded flat).

Standard safety gear includes dual front airbags, overhead airbags, electronic roll mitigation, stability and traction control and 4-wheel anti-lock brakes. Available innovative features include a 115-volt charge port, a rechargeable and removable cargo-area flashlight, and detachable liftgate speakers for tailgate parties. New for 2008 is standard air conditioning, a tire-pressure monitor warning light, optional navigation on Limited models, a few interior chrome accents and a manual-shift Auto Stick feature for the continuously variable automatic transmission.

The Jeep Compass is a good choice for buyers looking for bare-bones utility, carlike driving manners and available 4-wheel drive in a low-cost compact package.

What We Like

Carlike ride; decent fuel economy (for a Jeep); traditional Jeep styling; standard stability control and overhead airbags; Uconnect infotainment system; fold-down front seat

What We Don't

Buzzy engine; disconnected feel of the continuously variable transmission; hard-plastic interior trim; numb steering

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2008 Compass comes standard with a 2.4-liter double-overhead-camshaft 4-cylinder with 172 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque. EPA ratings have recently been recalibrated downward to better reflect real-world driving and are based on a new mathematical formula. With standard front-wheel drive, the 2008 Compass received an EPA rating of 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with the 5-speed manual transmission and 21 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with the CVT. Four-wheel-drive models are rated at 22 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with the 5-speed manual and 21 mpg city/24 mpg hwy with the CVT. The engine runs regular unleaded.

Optional on Compass Sport models with front-wheel drive and the CVT automatic only is a 2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder with 158 hp and 141 lb-ft of torque. Using the new EPA formula, it is rated at 23 mpg city/27 mpg hwy and also runs regular unleaded.

The Compass 4-wheel-drive system is called Freedom Drive I. It's a full-time, active system similar to those found on many cars that can be driven year-round. A lock mode for the center coupling provides extra traction in deep snow and sand. It's not officially trail-rated by Jeep, however, and isn't intended for serious off-road use.

Standard Features & Options

The 2008 Compass is available in Sport and Limited trims.

Standard amenities on the Sport include air conditioning, cloth seats, a vinyl cargo load floor with fold-flat storage, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with an auxiliary jack, a front center console with a sliding armrest and flip pockets, a tilt (not telescopic) steering wheel, variable intermittent wipers, a 60/40-split fold-flat rear bench seat, 215/70R17 tires wrapping 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, black roof side rails, a rear-window wiper/washer, and manual windows, mirrors and door locks. Popular Sport options include heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with remote audio controls, SiriusXM radio, a 6-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system and front-seat side airbags. Most Limited features, such as power windows, door locks and mirrors, remote keyless entry, cruise control and deep-tinted sunscreen glass are available on Sport models as options.

Moving up to the Limited adds standard cruise control, leather seat trim, deep-tinted sunscreen glass, heated front seats, a height-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a trip computer, remote keyless entry, 215/55R18 tires on 18-in alloy wheels, a tire-pressure monitor, a reclining 60/40-split rear seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 115-volt outlet, a garage-door opener, a removable and rechargeable interior flashlight, map lights, and power windows, door locks and mirrors. Options available only on the Limited now include a navigation system, Uconnect hands-free communication, an AutoStick transmission shifter and 18-in chrome-clad wheels. An optional sunroof is also available.

A 2000-lb Trailer Tow package includes an engine oil cooler and rear wiring harness.


It may have a Jeep grille, but the Compass doesn't get much respect from the traditional Jeep crowd. Its resale value pales in comparison to that of the Wrangler or Grand Cherokee. However, that's good news for savvy buyers looking for a used compact 4-door hatchback bargain. Unlike other Jeeps, the Compass is seldom taken off pavement, so the undercarriage is less likely to get banged up.

For a good idea of the prices of 2008 Jeep Compass models, check out the used-car values at You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recall for the 2008 Compass:

Some Compass models fitted with extra-thick Marathon aftermarket front seat covers may prevent the deployment of the front seat side airbags in a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA gave the 2008 Compass, equipped with optional side airbags, four stars for frontal impact and rollover performance and five for side impacts.

The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did not rate the 2008 Compass for front or side impacts or roof strength but gave it an Acceptable rating for head restraints and seats.

The Chrysler Group covered the 2008 Compass with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, including roadside assistance, a 5-year/100,000-mile corrosion-perforation warranty and an unprecedented unlimited-miles/unlimited-distance powertrain warranty. The catch? The unlimited powertrain warranty is for original new-car owners only.

The 2008 Compass is too old to qualify for certified pre-owned status.

Other Cars to Consider

2008 Ford Escape -- Freshened for 2008 with Explorer-like styling, the Escape is a compact runabout offered with a 153-hp 2.3-liter 4-cylinder or a 200-hp 3.0-liter V6. It has carlike road manners and a roomy interior. Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are offered. There is also a hybrid version EPA-rated at 34 mpg city/30 mpg hwy.

2007 Subaru Forester -- All Foresters come with 4-wheel drive and have a good reputation for all-weather traction and durability. The roomy crossover wagon is available with a 173-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or a 224-hp 2.5-liter turbo.

Autotrader's Advice

The Compass is not considered a true member of the Jeep tribe, but it can be a good all-around transportation buy. It offers a lot of interior room for its size and decent fuel economy. It's the most fun with a 5-speed manual, but few were sold that way, so you may have to settle for one with a CVT. For cruise control and power windows, mirrors and door locks, look for a Limited or a Sport with an upgrade package. Always get a Carfax vehicle history report. Look for a Jeep that's seen obvious care and stay away from modified examples. Check with the dealer to make sure the Compass you're looing at has had its safety-recall items addressed.

Find a Jeep Compass for sale

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2008 Jeep Compass: Used Car Review - Autotrader