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:

    iPod /USB/MP3 Control — If Equipped
    NOTE: This section is for sales code RES and REQ/ REL/RET radios only with Uconnect™. For sales code RBZ/RHB, RHR, RHP, RHW or RB2 touch-screen radio iPod /USB/MP3 control feature, refer to th ...

    Stain Repel Fabric Cleaning Procedure – If Equipped
    Stain Repel seats may be cleaned in the following manner: • Remove as much of the stain as possible by blotting with a clean, dry towel. • Blot any remaining stain with a clean, damp towel. ...

    Vehicle Identification Number
    The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is found on the left front corner of the instrument panel. The VIN is visible from outside of the vehicle through the windshield. This number also is stamp ...