Are Jeep Compass 4 Wheel Drive? AWD & 4×4 Systems By Model

are jeep compass 4 wheel drive

If you’re considering buying a Jeep Compass, you might be wondering which models have 4WD capabilities. The Jeep Compass is a compact SUV that offers two types of 4WD systems across its trim levels: Active Drive and Active Drive Low. These systems are different from the more common AWD systems found in other vehicles.

In this guide, we’ll explain the key features and benefits of each 4WD system, as well as the trim levels that offer them. We’ll also cover other aspects of the Jeep Compass, such as its off-road performance, towing capacity, fuel economy, and more. Read on to learn everything you need to know about Jeep Compass AWD and 4WD!

What’s the Difference Between AWD and 4WD?

The Jeep Compass compact SUV is available in four main trim levels, each offering different engine and drivetrain options:

  • Sport – Entry-level trim, all-wheel drive (AWD) only
  • Latitude – Adds optional AWD
  • Limited – Upgrades to more capable AWD systems with 4WD modes
  • Trailhawk – Specialized off-road trim with advanced 4WD

The Base Compass Sport – All Wheel Drive Only

The base Compass Sport trim comes standard with a new 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 200 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission offered is a 9-speed automatic.

All-wheel drive is standard on the Sport trim. This sends power to all four wheels via the transmission and rear differential. AWD Compass models deliver improved traction and stability on various road conditions.

The Sport trim also features the Selec-Terrain® Traction Management System, which allows you to choose from five modes: Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud, and Rock. This system adjusts the engine, transmission, brakes, and stability control to optimize performance for different terrains .

Let’s take a closer look at the drive systems available in each Compass package:

The Base Compass Sport – Front Wheel Drive Only

The base Compass Sport trim comes standard with a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine making 177 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission offered is a 6-speed automatic.

Front-wheel drive is standard on the Sport trim. This sends all engine power to just the front wheels via the transmission and front differential. FWD Compass models deliver decent fuel economy.

However, the lack of AWD does limit the Sport trim’s off-roading capability. You won’t be able to tackle more rugged terrain or drive confidently on wet/snowy roads without upgraded drivetrains.

Stepping Up To The Latitude – Unlocks Optional AWD

The mid-level Latitude trim opens up a few more options for buyers looking to add all-wheel drive capabilities. You can choose between two drivetrain configurations on the Compass Latitude:

  • 2.0L Turbo engine with Active Drive 4×4 AWD – Standard on all Compass models
  • 2.0L Turbo engine with Active Drive Low 4×4 – Optional for enhanced off-road performance

The standard Active Drive 4×4 AWD system uses a rear drive unit that contains a PTU (power transfer unit) coupled to an axle disconnect. This automatically transfers torque to the rear wheels when needed.

Jeep’s AWD system comes equipped with the Selec-Terrain® Traction Management System on Latitude trims. It lets you toggle between Auto, Snow, Sand, and Mud modes for tailored traction based on current conditions.

With Latitude AWD, the Jeep Compass delivers much improved grip and control on wet roads, snow, or at the beach. It’s not as rugged as a true 4WD system, but provides adequate off-road capability for most buyers.

The Compass Limited – More AWD Choices

Step up to the well-appointed Limited trim, and you gain access to the same AWD options as the Latitude trim:

  • 2.0L Turbo engine with Active Drive 4×4 AWD – Standard on all Compass models
  • 2.0L Turbo engine with Active Drive Low 4×4 – Optional for enhanced off-road performance

The optional Active Drive Low 4×4 option equips a 2-speed PTU with a 20:1 crawl ratio – delivering impressive torque at low speeds. This rugged four-wheel drive system includes the Selec-Terrain system with Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud, and Rock modes.

The Compass Limited with Active Drive Low 4×4 can traverse more challenging trails and backwoods terrain. It also features a Hill Descent Control system that helps you maintain a steady speed and brake pressure when going downhill.

The Compass Limited also offers a Trail Rated® badge that signifies its ability to perform well under various off-road conditions. It meets the Jeep brand’s high standards of traction, water fording, maneuverability, articulation, and ground clearance.

The Off-Road Focused Trailhawk 4×4 Drive System.

The Trailhawk trim represents the pinnacle of off-road performance for the Jeep Compass lineup. It comes equipped with the following purpose-built drivetrain:

  • 2.4L engine with 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Jeep Active Drive Low 4×4 system – Provides 20:1 crawl ratio for 4WD at low speeds
  • Selec-Terrain system with Rock mode – For optimized traction on jagged rock faces

This advanced 4WD system utilizes a rear drive module that contains an electronically controlled PTU with torque management and a locking rear differential. Power can be shifted between front and rear axles for the ultimate control on uneven surfaces.

The Trailhawk also boasts increased ride height and ground clearance, rugged all-terrain tires, and protective skid plates to withstand off-road abuse. If you plan to tackle rocky trails, deep mud, or go overlanding, the Trailhawk is by far the most capable Compass package.

Fuel Economy And MPG – How AWD Impacts Efficiency

Adding all-wheel or four-wheel drive does impact fuel efficiency and mileage in the Jeep Compass. Here’s a quick MPG overview:

  • FWD 2.4L – 22 City / 31 Highway / 25 Combined
  • AWD 2.4L – 21 City / 29 Highway / 24 Combined
  • AWD 1.3L Turbo – 23 City / 32 Highway / 26 Combined

As expected, Compass models with front-wheel drive achieve better fuel economy than all-wheel drive configurations. The turbocharged 1.3L engine available on Limited and Trailhawk trims helps close this MPG gap thanks to its power and efficiency.

The various Selec-Terrain drive modes can also impact gas mileage. Modes like Sand/Mud and Rock will reduce efficiency somewhat, as power is diverted to all wheels for maximum traction. Use FWD or Auto modes when possible to save fuel.

Overall, expect a modest MPG reduction for the added traction and performance of AWD. With smart driving habits, a Compass can still deliver relatively good gas mileage.

Towing Capacity – Can You Tow With AWD Compass Models?

Many compact crossover SUVs have rather limited tow ratings, but the Jeep Compass AWD models can tow an appreciable amount:

  • FWD – Up to 1,000 pounds
  • AWD – Up to 2,000 pounds with tow package
  • 4WD – Up to 2,000 pounds with tow package

Equipping the Trailer Tow Package is required to reach the full 2,000 pound towing capacity. This includes an engine oil cooler, upgraded radiator, and trailer wiring harness.

When towing near the limits, be sure to use a weight distribution hitch for stability. Brake controller and transmission cooler are other recommended upgrades for heavy trailers.

Always follow Jeep’s towing guidelines for safe operation. Reduce speed, increase following distance, and avoid towing in adverse conditions. The AWD systems help control sway and improve traction when towing.

Which Jeep Compass Drive System Is Right For You?

Now that we’ve compared the various Compass drivetrains available, how do you decide which is the best fit?

Here are a few key factors to consider:

  • Budget – Upgrading to AWD or 4WD does add cost over the FWD models
  • Use Case – Assess how much off-roading you plan to do versus everyday driving
  • Conditions – Frequent winter weather or beach trips favor AWD/4WD
  • Performance – Towing or high-altitude driving benefits from more torque

FWD Compass Sport

If you don’t need serious off-road capability, the FWD Compass Sport provides an affordable SUV with Jeep styling.

Latitude AWD

For all-season traction on pavement without breaking the bank, the Latitude AWD is a great option.

Limited 4WD

The Limited 4WD model offers a more luxurious interior and advanced features, along with the Active Drive 4×4 system that can handle light off-roading.

Trailhawk 4WD

Hardcore off-road enthusiasts will appreciate the Trailhawk 4WD model built to crawl over rocks and conquer mud pits. It has the exclusive Active Drive Low 4×4 system that provides a 20:1 crawl ratio and a low-range mode.

No matter which you choose, the Jeep Compass delivers a great blend of efficiency, utility, comfort and proven Jeep 4×4 capability. With available all-wheel and four-wheel drive systems, you can confidently drive the Compass in all conditions – rain or shine, street or trail.

FAQ – Common Questions About Jeep Compass 4×4 Systems

Let’s wrap up with answers to some frequently asked questions about the AWD and 4WD systems in the Jeep Compass:

Can You Get AWD On The Compass Sport Trim?

Yes, you can get AWD on the Compass Sport trim as an option. However, you need to upgrade to the Latitude or higher for the Active Drive Low 4WD system.

What’s The Difference Between Active Drive And Active Drive Low?

Active Drive is a full-time AWD system that automatically distributes torque to the front and rear wheels as needed. Active Drive Low adds selectable 4WD gearing optimized for off-road traction, with a 20:1 crawl ratio and hill-descent control.

Do All AWD Compass Models Have Selec-Terrain?

All Compass trims with Active Drive or Active Drive Low come equipped with Jeep’s Selec-Terrain drive mode selector. This feature allows you to choose from five settings: Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud, and Rock. Each mode adjusts the throttle, transmission, traction control, and stability control to optimize performance for different terrains.

Is The Trailhawk’s 4WD System Better Than Active Drive Low On Limited?

The Trailhawk has some advantages over the Limited when it comes to off-road capability. These include:

  • Superior ground clearance of 8.5 inches versus 8.2 inches
  • All-terrain tires that provide better grip on rough surfaces
  • A brake lock differential that mimics the effect of a locker by applying brakes to the spinning wheel, transferring torque to the wheel with more traction
  • Skid plates, tow hooks, and a unique front fascia that improve the approach, departure, and breakover angles

How Much Does AWD Hurt Gas Mileage In The Compass?

AWD reduces fuel economy by 3-4 MPG combined versus front-wheel drive Compass models. The turbo engine available on the Latitude and Limited trims helps improve AWD efficiency, delivering 24 MPG city and 32 MPG highway.


In summary, front-wheel drive comes standard on the entry-level Jeep Compass Sport, but you can opt for AWD as well. Upgrading to the Latitude, Limited or Trailhawk trims unlocks a range of AWD and 4WD systems for enhanced traction and off-road performance.

Both AWD and 4WD Compass models equip Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system, allowing you to tailor the power delivery to match conditions. With available all-wheel or four-wheel drive, the Compass can confidently handle any driving scenario – from rainy commutes to rocky trails.

Now that you know exactly which Jeep Compass models offer 4 wheel drive, you can decide if the added off-road prowess is worth the small hit to fuel economy. For most buyers, the benefits of AWD or 4WD will easily outweigh the cons.

So when asking “are Jeep Compass 4 wheel drive?” – in the Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk trims the answer is a definitive yes! With the right drivetrain, your Compass can confidently go wherever your adventures lead.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *