If you’re looking for a new compact SUV, which is a popular class, your dream pick probably isn’t one with a lukewarm review. That is how Cars.com feels about the 2020 Jeep Compass though. Despite lots of potential, the review finds that the 2020 Compass “has lost its way.”
The 2020 Jeep Compass
The 2020 Compass offers four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk. The Trailhawk trim of the 2020 Compass, which Cars.com tested, has the most potential. Along with different styling, the Trailhawk also has more off-road features. That includes a lifted suspension, Jeep’s Active Drive Low four-wheel drive, tow hooks, plus off-road tires and skid plates.
The Compass is fine at the slow speeds of off-roading. Otherwise, it lacks power. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine generates 180 hp. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but six-speed and nine-speed automatic transmissions are also available.
The test model for Cars.com had a nine-speed transmission, which didn’t shift smoothly and was “unpredictable.” The handling was still comfortable, though, during Cars.com’s test drive.
The interior of the Compass that was tested was high quality, with leather, padded surfaces, and comfortable seats. The storage areas, however, were quite small. There’s plenty of room in the rear seats for adults.
The Compass is about average for legroom but has a little less headroom than its competitors. The 2020 Jeep Compass’ Uconnect 4 touchscreen multimedia system is great and easy to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard. A seven-inch touchscreen is also standard, but an 8.4-inch one is available.
How the 2020 Jeep Compass falls short
The 2020 Compass has what Cars.com calls “an anemic powertrain and embarrassing fuel economy.” The EPA rated the 2020 Compass with front-wheel drive and the six-speed automatic for 22 MPG in the city, 31 MPG on the highway, and 25 MPG combined. Its stop-start system, which is supposed to improve fuel efficiency, doesn’t seem to have that result. It also causes a “shuddering” when the SUV shuts down and restarts.
While the 2020 Compass offers more available advanced safety features with the lowest trim, it still doesn’t have as many standard features as its competitors. Adding features like automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring increases the price.
The Compass also doesn’t have much cargo space, coming in with 27.2 cubic feet. With the seats down, that increases to 59.8 cubic feet, which is still less than competitors.
The rest of the segment
The Compass competes against SUVs like Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4. The infotainment system in the 2020 Compass is easier to use than that of competitors, but the rivals have it beat in too many other areas, from fuel efficiency to standard safety features to cargo room.
The base trims of the main competitors all outperform the Compass in fuel efficiency. The Ford Escape gets 27 MPG in the city, 33 MPG on the highway, and 30 MPG overall. The Honda CR-V gets 28 MPG in the city, 34 MPG on the highway, and 30 MPG overall. The Toyota RAV4 gets 27 MPG in the city, 35 MPG on the highway, and 30 MPG overall. In addition, these three offer either a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid version for even better fuel efficiency, a powertrain not available on the Compass.
The competitors offer more advanced safety features on its lowest trim levels than the Compass currently does. The competitors also outdo the Compass in cargo space. The Escape has 37.5 cubic feet, the CR-V has 39.2 cubic feet, and the RAV4 has 37.6 cubic feet. These options also have considerably more than the Compass with the seats folded down too.
At first glance, the Compass seems to beat its competitors on price with its starting price of $23,775 including the destination charge. However, the base Compass has a manual transmission, and most of the competitors’ base trims come with an automatic.
Adding an automatic transmission to the Compass brings its starting price to $27,120, which is similar to its competitors’ starting prices. The Escape has a starting price of $26,130, the CR-V has a starting price of $26,270, and the RAV4 has a starting price of $27,125.
Cars.com found it unfortunate that the 2020 Jeep Compass didn’t live up to its potential to add excitement to a boring segment. The Compass stands out for its off-road capabilities but not for much else. The Toyota RAV4 can match its off-road features, and several of the competitors also outperform the Compass for fuel efficiency, safety features, and cargo room.