Does Jeep Compass Have 4-Wheel-Drive Or All Wheel Drive?

The Jeep Compass offers plenty of space and comfort for running errands around town or taking a weekend road trip. It can even handle some of your toughest off-road adventures. But does this compact SUV have 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive? 

The Jeep Compass comes with front-wheel drive on three of the four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, and Limited. However, 4-wheel drive is offered as an upgrade to those three trim levels. The Compass Trailhawk comes standard with 4-wheel drive. There is not an all-wheel-drive option for any of the Jeep Compass models.

When you need to take an unpaved road to the lake or up the mountain, the Jeep Compass has the 4-wheel drive capability that you need to get there. But with lots of SUVs available with this off-roading option, how can you tell if the Jeep Compass is right for you? Keep reading to find out more about the Jeep Compass's adventure credentials to help you decide.

A Jeep Compass SUV parked on the sandy road, Does Jeep Compass Have 4-Wheel-Drive Or All Wheel Drive?

Jeep Compass Trim Level Options

There are four trim options in the Jeep Compass. All-wheel drive is not available on any of them, but you can upgrade to a 4-wheel drive model. They all seat five passengers and have a combined MPG of around 25. We'll discuss each trim level in more depth below.


This trim level starts at a little over $25,000 MSRP. It comes in 10 available exterior colors. Both the base level and the 4-wheel drive models have a six-speed manual transmission with overdrive.


The base model starts at around $25,600 MSRP and has a six-speed manual transmission with overdrive. The 4-wheel drive version has a six-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. Both come in 10 exterior color options.


The front-wheel drive model starts at $25,600 MSRP and has a six-speed manual transmission with overdrive and auto-manual. The 4-wheel drive version starts at around $30,000 MSRP and uses a nine-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and auto-manual.


This model is the only one of the four trims that comes standard with 4-wheel drive. The base model starts at around $30,000 MSRP. The Compass Trailhawk has a nine-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and auto-manual. 

What's The Difference Between Front-Wheel Drive, All-Wheel Drive, And 4-Wheel Drive?

Most cars come standard with front-wheel drive, meaning the power of the car is focused on the front tires of the vehicle. All-wheel drive sends power to all four tires at different intervals to increase traction. This feature is helpful when the terrain gets slippery, uneven, or the car faces some other less-than-ideal road conditions. In severe weather or road conditions, 4-wheel drive creates equal amounts of turning power on all four wheels at the same time to enable the car to move with the maximum amount of traction.

The average driver probably only needs all-wheel drive in bad weather conditions. However, someone who goes off-roading or travels through rough terrain and severe weather regularly needs 4-wheel drive capabilities.

Can The Jeep Compass Go Off-Road?

Yes! The 4-wheel drive models of the Jeep Compass can go off-roading and can manage to power through moderately rough terrain. The base level front-wheel drive versions are not able to handle unpaved roads as well as the 4-wheel drive models.

When using 4-wheel drive, the Jeep Selec-Terrain Traction Management System engages automatically to increase traction and maneuverability in all kinds of weather and active adventures. 

What Is Jeep Selec-Terrain?

Jeep Selec-Terrain is a traction system in Jeep models with 4-wheel drive that enables the vehicle to maneuver through different weather conditions and other challenging landscapes. The control panel is near the gear stick and has buttons for 4-wheel drive lock and 4-wheel drive low functions. There are four different modes in the Selec-Terrain system:

  • Auto
  • Snow
  • Sport
  • Sand/Mud

Each mode adjusts the vehicle's steering and traction to reduce skidding in slippery conditions, such as snow and rain, or revs up the power to avoid getting stuck in sand or mud. The system can detect the changing turf and shift automatically to the necessary mode. Jeep Selec-Terrain is available in all 4-wheel drive Jeep vehicles, including the Jeep Compass.

How Do You Turn On 4WD In The Jeep Compass?

Jeep Compass models with the 4-wheel drive capability automatically switch from front-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive when the vehicle detects a loss in traction or when driving through inclement weather conditions. If necessary, the driver can manually press the 4-wheel drive lock button on the Selec-Terrain panel shown below:

Pressing the 4-wheel drive lock button ensures that your vehicle does not come out of 4-wheel drive mode until you have made it into safer conditions. The panel also has a 4-wheel drive low button that can be engaged in particularly slippery or loose road conditions. If you use the 4-wheel drive low position on normal road surfaces, then you may damage your tires and other undercarriage parts of your vehicle. 

Is The Jeep Compass Trail Rated? 

The Jeep Trail Rating is a designation that means a specific model of Jeep successfully passed rigorous testing in five different categories:

  • Traction - drive through rough terrain and severe weather, such as snowstorms
  • Water Fording - cut across water beds, including creeks and streams
  • Maneuverability - navigate around obstacles and roadblocks with precision
  • Articulation - maintain control through construction sites and other uneven ground, even when some tires are not touching the road
  • Ground Clearance - substantial room between the road and the underside of the vehicle to avoid severe damage

The Jeep Compass is one of six Jeep vehicles with the Jeep Trail Rating. The other five are the Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Renegade, and Jeep Gladiator. While the Jeep Wrangler is rated better for off-roading and extreme conditions, the Compass offers more versatility for both off-road adventures and driving around town.

Is The Jeep Trail Rated Kit Compatible With The Jeep Compass?

The Jeep Trail Rated Kit is an accessory pack that includes a tow strap, two D-rings, and a pair of gloves inside a Jeep bag.

It can be purchased separately from various auto parts retailers for around $150. While this kit can be used with several of the Jeep Trail Rated vehicles listed above, it is not compatible with the newer models of the Jeep Compass. 

Is The Jeep Compass Good In Snow?

The base level front-wheel drive models of the Jeep Compass are not made to handle extreme weather conditions, though some consumers have said that they have no problems driving through mild winter snowfalls.

All of the 4-wheel drive versions can maneuver fairly well through the snow. The Jeep Compass trim levels with 4-wheel drive come with the Jeep Selec-Terrain Traction Management System. The system automatically kicks on when it detects slippery terrain, such as when you're driving in snow, ice, or sleet, to help you gain better control of the vehicle. The system has a snow mode that distributes torque evenly among all four wheels, helping to prevent your car from fishtailing and slipping off the road.

Reviewers of the Compass say that when the car shifts into snow mode, it feels like it starts moving on its own. As long as you don't try to overcompensate, you should be able to navigate through the snow just fine.

In Closing

The Jeep Compass has 4-wheel drive available in all four trim levels, but all-wheel drive is not an option. If you'd like to learn more about other 4-wheel drive SUVs that are similar to the Jeep Compass, check out these other articles:

Is Toyota RAV4 AWD or 4WD?

Is the Ford Explorer All-Wheel Drive or 4-Wheel Drive?

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