Used Car Review

2009 Jeep Compass: Used Car Review

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author photo by Ron Sessions January 2017

The 2009 Jeep Compass compact SUV is a car-based 4-door hatchback that shares underpinnings with the Jeep Patriot and the Dodge Caliber. It was the brand's first-ever model available with both front- and all-wheel drive. The Compass offers ride, 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 lift gate speakers for tailgate parties. New for 2009 is a redesigned instrument panel with chrome accents, new door trim panels with padded armrests, a new split-lid center console, a carpeted cargo floor, a quieter exhaust, improved sound insulation, more compliant suspension tuning and LED-illuminated cupholders.

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 CVT; hard-plastic interior trim; numb steering

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2009 Compass comes standard with a 2.4-liter double-overhead-camshaft (DOHC) 4-cylinder with 172 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel-economy 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 2009 Compass received an EPA rating of 23 miles per gallon 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. All-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 fuel.

Optional on Compass Sport models with front-wheel drive is a 2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder with 158 hp and 141 lb-ft of torque. Using the new EPA formula, it's rated at 23 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with the CVT and 23 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with the 5-speed manual transmission. The 2.0-liter engine also runs regular unleaded fuel.

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 2009 Compass is available in Sport and Limited trims.

Standard amenities on the Sport include air conditioning, cloth seats, a carpeted 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 split-lid sliding armrest, a tilt (not telescopic) steering wheel, variable intermittent wipers, illuminated cup holders, 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, a power sunroof, SiriusXM radio, a 6-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system and front-seat side airbags. Most Limited features -- such as power windows, power door locks, power 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, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, deep-tinted sunscreen glass, heated front seats, a height-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, a fold-flat front passenger seat, SiriusXM, 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 include a voice-command navigation system with a touchscreen, an AutoStick transmission shifter and 18-in chrome-clad wheels. An optional sunroof and Uconnect hands-free communication are also available.

An optional 2,000-lb Trailer Tow package includes an engine-oil cooler and a 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 the 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 2009 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 recalls for the 2009 Compass:

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

A broken circuit board in the powertrain control module may cause the engine to stall unexpectedly, increasing the risk of a crash.

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, they'll fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The NHTSA gave the 2009 Compass, equipped with optional front-seat 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 2009 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 2009 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 2009 Compass is too old to qualify for certified pre-owned status.

Other Cars to Consider

2009 Ford Escape -- Featuring Explorer-like styling, the Escape is a compact SUV available with a new 171-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or a 240-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's also a hybrid version that's EPA-rated at 34 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.

2009 Subaru Forester -- A redesigned, roomier 2009 Forester continues to come exclusively with 4-wheel drive. The roomy crossover wagon is available with a regular-fuel 173-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or a premium-fuel 224-hp 2.5-liter turbo.

Autotrader's Advice

While it proudly wears the Jeep badge, the Compass is not considered a true member of the Jeep tribe. It offers a lot of interior room for its size and decent fuel economy. Overall, it represents a good all-around transportation buy. 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. The 2009 model has a more livable interior, is quieter and has a smoother ride than previous models. 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 looking 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.
2009 Jeep Compass: Used Car Review - Autotrader