2022 Jeep Compass Review and Test Drive

Jeep moves the Compass upmarket to support premium-brand ambitions.

2022 Jeep Compass High Altitude Gray Front QuarterMichael Harley

Article QuickTakes:

Jeep introduced the original Compass in 2007, one of two new small Jeep SUVs based on the same platform and running gear as the Dodge Caliber. The other new model, the Patriot, had boxy, purposeful styling while the Compass — well, the less said about it, the better.

For the 2017 model year, Jeep dropped the Patriot nameplate and gave the Compass respectable styling modeled on the larger Grand Cherokee. Jeep built the second-generation Compass on a stretched version of the Renegade's platform, which the Fiat 500X also shares. Unlike those crossover SUVs, which are made in Italy, Jeep manufactures the Compass in Mexico.

2022 Jeep Compass High Altitude Gray Rear Quarter RightMichael Harley

Now, in the sixth year of the second-generation Compass' lifecycle, Jeep gives it numerous updates, inside and out. For this 2022 Jeep Compass review, I test-drove the most expensive version, the High Altitude with standard all-wheel drive, in Los Angeles. It arrived with the Elite Interior Group package and Driver Assist Group 1 package, wearing a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $41,665, including the destination charge. Jeep provided the vehicle for this 2022 Compass review.

2022 Jeep Compass High Altitude Gray Side ViewMichael Harley

2022 Jeep Compass Review: The Design

Jeep made numerous improvements to the 2022 Compass that upgraded the SUV both inside and out.

New styling gives the Compass more character with an upscale appearance. Jeep retains its iconic seven-bar grille, with the Jeep logo on the hood, prominent as ever. However, it's interesting to note that the purely aesthetic grille is closed to airflow; the actual air intake is below the bumper. Overall, the look is more cohesive with better-integrated fog lights and safety technology. Jeep also made a few tweaks to the rear end, but most people won't notice the changes.

2022 Jeep Compass High Altitude Interior DashboardMichael Harley

The more noticeable improvements happen inside the cabin, where the 2022 model boasts an all-new dashboard. The primary reason for the change was to fit the Compass with a table-style infotainment screen that appears to be resting high on the dash instead of integrated into it.

That required moving the center air vents below the screen, which makes them less effective in moving air around the cabin, but it allows the display to be larger and shaped in a more helpful landscape configuration.

Visually, the cabin looks great. The use of horizontal lines gives an impression of width and space, the contrasting stitching on the dashboard makes the surface look like leather, and the bright trim running from one side to the other ties everything together.

2022 Jeep Compass High Altitude Back SeatMichael Harley

Unfortunately, the leather upholstery feels like plastic. The cabin smells like plastic, too. The materials that surround passengers in the second row are a bit worse. Hard plastic covers the door panels, and the vinyl map pockets behind the seats look and feel cheap.

The infotainment system is running Jeep's current Uconnect 5 software, which isn't as user-friendly as previous systems. However, on a positive note, it is more robust and capable once the user becomes familiar with the interface. For convenience, an inductive charging pad just in front of the shifter will charge smartphones, or occupants may use one of several USB charging ports that are easily accessible.

2022 Jeep Compass Rear Cargo SpaceMichael Harley

Seating is comfortable for both front passengers, although the cushions are flat, so there isn't much lateral support. The seat controls on the side of the lower cushion are simple and easy to use.

Second-row passengers benefit from a slightly elevated position because the seat cushion is taller. While this affords occupants a commanding view of the front seats, the rear window sills are also higher, so the lifted position doesn't improve outward vision. In terms of comfort, the Compass is best used for toting two (rather than three) rear passengers. The test vehicle had heated back seats, rear air conditioning vents, and multiple outlets for charging devices, including a 120-volt receptacle. Rear legroom is tight.

The rear seats fold down in a 40/60 split to expand cargo space from 27.2 cu-ft to 59.8 cu-ft. However, the seats don't lie completely flat, and there is no center armrest with a ski pass-through, which reduces flexibility. Behind the rear seat, the cargo area will hold several airline roll-aboard suitcases, and Jeep provides sturdy metal tie-downs to secure items. As with other Jeeps, the power liftgate-closing button is on the lower-left inner panel inside the trunk where shorter people can easily reach it.

2022 Jeep Compass Driving Assistance Systems ScreenMichael Harley

2022 Jeep Compass Review: The Technology

The main benefits of the refreshed and updated 2022 Compass relate to the SUV's enhanced technology. For example, seamless integration of smartphones and easy-to-use infotainment systems are essential to today's shoppers, and the 2022 Compass' new tablet-style Uconnect 5 infotainment system delivers.

Jeep builds its Uconnect 5 technology on Google's Android Automotive operating system. Still, Jeep uses Amazon Alexa for voice recognition and TomTom maps for navigation (instead of Google Voice and Google Maps). The new system also has satellite radio, supports wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto compatibility and offers a standard 8.4-inch touchscreen display or a larger 10.1-inch version. The test vehicle had the bigger screen and all of the bells and whistles.

2022 Jeep Compass Uconnect 5 Infotainment System Navigation ScreenMichael Harley

Uconnect 5 is uncomplicated once you get familiar with it, and the touchscreen is accessible by both the driver and front passenger. Still, most owners will likely use Bluetooth connectivity and run wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto because using something familiar is generally easier.

To charge a device, Jeep provides both USB-A and USB-C ports in the console and offers an available wireless charging pad that fits most phones. Awkwardly, the charging pad is placed in a cubby in front of the shift lever, making it a challenge to remove phones easily.

2022 Jeep Compass 4WD Display Within Instrument Cluster ScreenMichael Harley

The Compass High Altitude trim is chock-full of innovation and passenger conveniences. The most visible among them is a 10.25-inch configurable digital instrument panel controlled using buttons on the left spoke of the steering wheel. Unfortunately, the digital interface is packed with numbers, graphs, and data, bordering on information overload. Thankfully, the vehicle's speed and fuel gauge are easy to see.

In terms of driver-assist features, the 2022 Compass has a new Highway Assist system that bundles adaptive cruise control with a lane-centering feature. It provides semi-autonomous driving assistance on highways, and it requires the driver to remain vigilant and attentive with their hands on the steering wheel.

However, Highway Assist arrived later in the 2022 model year. Consequently, the test vehicle used lane-keeping assistance to add steering correction if the Jeep wandered over a lane marking. As for the adaptive cruise control system, it excelled on the highway and in stop-and-go traffic.

The 2022 Jeep Compass is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates the SUV at four stars out of a possible five.

2022 Jeep Compass 2.4-Liter Four-Cylinder MultiAir EngineMichael Harley

2022 Jeep Compass Review: The Drive

Even though Jeep made exterior and interior updates to the Compass for 2022, the automaker did not touch the powertrain, which is unfortunate. The only engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated to make 177 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. It pairs with a six-speed automatic transmission in front-wheel-drive versions and a nine-speed automatic in all-wheel-drive spec.

Most Compass models with AWD use Jeep Active Drive 4x4, which varies torque based on the selected drive mode and available traction. It uses a single-speed transfer case that automatically shifts between FWD and AWD — there is no low range for tackling challenging terrain. The Compass Trailhawk has Jeep Active Drive Low, which does supply a low range and a 20:1 crawl ratio, which helps it achieve Jeep's Trail Rated status.

On paper, the powertrain sounds robust. But it's a different story in the real world, where the relatively light 3,327-pound Compass nevertheless feels slow and sluggish. By my stopwatch, it runs to 60 mph in 9.3 seconds, which is nothing about which to brag.

2022 Jeep Compass High Altitude Gray Front QuarterMichael Harley

The engine lacks a turbocharger, which hurts its low-end power while making it feel strangled at elevation. Driving around town is tolerable, but mash the throttle to pass or pull around slower vehicles, and you'll catch the transmission off guard. Eventually, it drops a few gears to force the engine to rev higher, but then the powerplant's merciless outcry fills the cabin with sounds that signal the Compass is struggling — because it is.

The powertrain is a shame because the steering, suspension, and brakes aren't bad. The steering ratio feels good while driving in a canyon, and the action is nicely weighted, neither too light nor too heavy. The suspension is soft, which induces some body roll, but the suspension travel helps the ride over the larger bumps.

Regrettably, Jeep configures the Compass High Altitude with lackluster all-season tires. They are unobtrusive on straight, open roads, but compromise the Jeep's driving dynamics by limiting cornering and braking capability on the pavement. They are not ideal off-road, either.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the 2022 Jeep Compass gets 25 mpg in combined driving. However, on my test-drive loop, which includes a good mix of steady-state highway, stop-and-go, and mountain driving with an elevation change of about 1,500 feet, the Jeep delivered an indicated 22.7 mpg. That result mainly reflects how hard the underpowered engine works in the hills.

2022 Jeep Compass High Altitude Gray Rear Quarter LeftMichael Harley

Is the 2022 Jeep Compass a Good SUV?

The 2022 Jeep Compass is an average compact SUV in a segment full of good choices. Jeep is correct to point out that the Compass is technically advanced, and the new Uconnect 5 infotainment system is a vehicle highlight.

But its chassis is old, and the interior design lacks flair. Most of the competitors in this segment have more fuel-efficient powertrains, are mildly enjoyable to drive, and have strong safety ratings. Unfortunately, its spiritless engine, slow transmission, and uninspiring driving dynamics drag the Compass down.

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Michael Harley
I’m one of the lucky few who have been able to turn my passion for automobiles into a professional career. On that note, I’ve written reviews for the industry’s top outlets, been quoted about events and trends by the leading business publications, and appeared on national television discussing new vehicles and safety. As a bona fide “car guy,” I jump at the opportunity to climb behind the wheel of every new car, truck, and SUV — and communicate to others about the experience.