The Inside

Chrysler can no longer get by on flashy exterior designs alone. Over the past few years, as good-looking vehicles like the Chrysler 300 and Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled out, everyone overlooked their relatively bulky and, let's just say it, cheap plastic interiors. In this $15,995 Compass, the interior is even more plasticky.

Here's where that Jeep nameplate helps out; because Jeep, unlike Dodge, is known as an offroad brand, there are rugged cues that make the plastic less offensive than in the more street-oriented Caliber. Meaning, if a car looks like it's going to get muddy, you don't want it to look too nice.

There are also convenient cubbies and cupholders in all the right places. There's even a slot above the glove box that's perfect for a run to the post office.

My tester's cloth seats were supportive and felt good to the touch, as did the roof lining. The steering wheel also felt great; it was made of soft plastic and was just the right size for any driver. An oversized shift lever was kind of bulky, but it didn't impair drivability. The gauges — with little cardinal points to play up the Compass name — were pretty cool and looked more expensive than the rest of the interior.

That said, I just couldn't get over the rough seams where one plastic part met another. They can scratch the skin — they were that unfinished. When my wife got into the car for the first time she used the word "cheap" immediately. I told her it cost a lot less than her 2004 Grand Cherokee, though. About $10,000 less. She quickly changed her tune, saying, "It's not that bad."

Even after a week, though, I'm sure I could only live with the Compass' interior if I got a version of the car that was closer to the $15,985 base price and not the $21,185 tester price.

    See also:

    Ambient Light Color Control — If Equipped
    Ambient lights are located under the instrument panel and the driver’s and passenger’s front seats. The color of the ambient lights can be changed by pressing the button located above the sh ...

    Horn With Remote Start
    When this feature is selected, a short horn sound will occur when the RKE transmitter REMOTE START button is pressed. To make your selection, press and release the SELECT button until a check-ma ...

    Personal Settings (Customer-Programmable Features)
    Personal Settings allows the driver to set and recall features when the vehicle speed is at 0 mph (0 km/h) (manual transmission) or when the shift lever is in PARK (auto transmission). Press an ...