2021 Jeep Compass Review
The Jeep Compass fills the gap between the Jeep Renegade in the extra-small SUV class and the Jeep Cherokee in the small SUV class. That makes it difficult to name direct competitors, though the Mazda CX-30 and Subaru Crosstrek are pretty similar in regards to size and price. In general, the Compass distinguishes itself from the pack with easy-to-use technology features, a roomy back seat and better-than-average off-road abilities.
Like other Jeeps not named Wrangler or Gladiator, the Compass is available in a Trailhawk trim level. It significantly boosts the Compass' off-road capability with underbody skid plates, all-terrain tires and a lifted suspension. Compared to most of its rivals, the Compass can get you further off the beaten path but feels a bit less refined. Is this distinctive SUV right for you? Read our Expert Rating below to learn more.
The Compass isn't as quick or as fuel-efficient as some other small SUVs, and interior cargo space is a little lacking. But overall we think you'll find the Compass an agreeable pick, especially if you go for the Trailhawk version. Think of the Compass as Grand Cherokee Lite.
How does the Compass drive?
We tested the Compass Trailhawk. It will surprise you with its impressive capability when the trail gets tough. The all-terrain tires and lockable center differential are features that you won't find on most rival SUVs.
But some of the things that make the Trailhawk so good off-road hurt it on pavement. Emergency braking from 60 mph took 140 feet in Edmunds testing, which we primarily attribute to the low-grip all-terrain tires. Its underwhelming handling is the same, and its 0-60 mph time of 10.1 seconds is marginal at best. The transmission can be slow to downshift too.
How comfortable is the Compass?
The Compass Trailhawk isn't the most comfortable choice in the segment, but it is a little better than average. This is true even on models without the Trailhawk's off-road-oriented tire and suspension package. The front seat cushions are firm and have adequate lateral support.
The climate system's mix of buttons and touchscreen controls works great. We also like the optional heated seats and steering wheel, which get toasty. On the downside, there's a moderate amount of wind noise on the highway and, at least in the Trailhawk with its knobby tires, noticeable road noise on rougher road surfaces. Other Compass versions should be a little quieter.
How’s the interior?
The Compass' interior is straightforward with good ergonomics. All of the controls are laid out well, and the Trailhawk's drive mode dial is easy to use. The driver's seat has plenty of adjustment range.
Passengers can get in and out with ease thanks to the wide doors with squared-off tops. Once inside, the Compass impresses with a spacious cabin with plenty of head- and legroom front and back. The driver has a good view of the road ahead, though the chunky roof pillars create blind spots in the rear.
How’s the tech?
While it's not a tech-heavy vehicle, the Compass proves that quality is better than quantity. The available 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen has crisp graphics and accessible menus. We also like that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trim levels.
Voice controls are similarly impressive, though voice recognition is merely average. Still, the system interfaces with multiple aspects of the infotainment system. You can even send prewritten texts and adjust climate settings. There are many available driver assist systems, but most work just OK.
How’s the storage?
While cargo volume is on the low side for this class of SUV, the available space is useful. You''ll find multiple storage areas throughout the cabin that are perfect for small items. The armrest bin can hold large phones or a small camera, and the glovebox is decently sized. As a family vehicle, the Compass loses a few points because its child car-seat anchors are buried in the seat cushions and are hard to find and access.
All-wheel-drive Compass models such as the Trailhawk can tow up to 2,000 pounds, a decent rating for this segment. To do it you'll need the optional tow kit that adds a four-pin harness and an integrated Class III hitch.
How economical is the Compass?
The Compass Trailhawk we tested managed to get about 28 mpg on our 115-mile mixed-driving evaluation route. As such, we expect the EPA's estimate of 25 mpg in combined city/highway driving is pretty realistic. However, most rival SUVs are more fuel-efficient overall.
Is the Compass a good value?
The Trailhawk can considered a good value given its capability. But you may want to look elsewhere if a regular Compass is on your radar. Pricing can be a little higher than the norm, and warranty coverage is average.
For most people, going off-road is not a daily occurrence. But for enthusiasts who like getting dirty, exploring the less worn path is a genuinely enjoyable thing to do. They will happily tolerate the Trailhawk's on-road sluggishness in exchange for its surprising capability off-road. While most crossovers will reside in suburbia, Jeep infused the Compass with the right look and feel to keep drivers smiling.
Which Compass does Edmunds recommend?
Rather than going with the bare-bones Compass Sport or Latitude, we recommend buyers take a closer look at the Limited or Trailhawk trim level. The upgraded 8.4-inch touchscreen comes standard on both models, and you can add several desirable driver safety aids by selecting the Safety and Security or Advanced Safety Group.
Jeep Compass models
The 2021 Jeep Compass is a subcompact crossover available in four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk. There are also Altitude and 80th Anniversary Edition versions of the Latitude that add unique exterior accents and a few extra features.