Crossover & Midsize

2021 Ford Escape vs. Jeep Compass: Battle of Consumer Reports’ 2 Worst Compact SUVs

SUVs are among the most popular vehicles in the United States, but they can’t all be winners. The 2021 Jeep Compass and Ford Escape received subpar Consumer Reports scores of 39 and 46, respectively. Here’s everything you need to know about these two less-than-impressive compact crossovers.

The 2021 Ford Escape

The 2021 Ford Escape starts at $24,885. It features a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine that makes 181 hp, although several hybrid options are also available. The Escape gets 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway for a combined 30 mpg. It also has a maximum cargo capacity of 37.5 cubic feet behind the second row.

Standard convenience features include a driver’s-side footrest, outside temperature display, and pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking. The Escape also comes standard with safety features such as a rearview camera, an SOS post-crash alert system, and automatic high-beam headlights.

But this SUV has a predicted reliability rating of only 1/5 from Consumer Reports. And its reliability and owner satisfaction ratings have been dipping for several years. CR’s test drivers found that though the Escape’s cabin looks appealing at first, it’s made with fairly flimsy materials that feel cheap. Reviewers praise the abundant legroom but note the front seats lack great back support.

According to Consumer Reports, another area in which the Escape struggles is ride quality. Although the vehicle handles well, the 1.5-liter engine creates unpleasant vibrations that negatively affect the overall driving experience.

The 2021 Jeep Compass

RELATED: The 2021 Ford Escape Is Actually a Really Fun Ride

The 2021 Jeep Compass features a 2.4-liter inline-four engine with start/stop capability. It produces 180 hp and gets 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway for a combined 26 mpg. That’s slightly less impressive fuel economy than the Ford Escape. However, the Compass starts at $23,915, making it a slightly more affordable option. 

The Compass has a maximum cargo volume of 59.8 cubic feet. Standard features include a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a rear cargo underfloor tray. It also comes with a fair number of standard safety features, including electronic stability control, all-speed traction control, and a rearview camera. 

The Compass earned a lower overall score from Consumer Reports than the Escape. In fact, CR reviewers piled on criticism for this vehicle. They called it slow, noisy, rough-riding, and uncomfortable. It earned a predicted reliability rating of 2/5 and an abysmal predicted owner satisfaction rating of 1/5. The Compass ranked particularly low in the areas of driving experience, comfort, and value.

Reviewers found the cabin to be significantly lacking in quality materials. As with the Ford Escape, the Compass’s seats lack support, and unpleasant engine noise fills the cabin.

Additionally, though the Jeep Compass initially seems affordable, adding just a few advanced safety and comfort features bumps the price to the point where you might as well purchase a better-rated competitor.

Which SUV is more popular?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Ford Escape sells better than the Jeep Compass. According to GoodCarBadCar, the Escape sold over 170,000 units in 2020. In contrast, the Compass sold just slightly over 100,000 units last year.

Consumer Reports’ compact SUV rankings indicate the Ford Escape and Jeep Compass leave much to be desired. Though the Escape is generally popular and performing better sales-wise, you might want to look elsewhere for a more reliable and satisfying option.