The 2021 Jeep Compass Is Already Off to a Rough Start

You could say that the Compass is the black sheep of the Jeep family. The Compass has been one of the worst-rated SUVs for the last couple of years. And for 2021, it doesn’t look like the Compass will break this streak. 

The 2021 Jeep Compass features the same sluggish powertrain 

2021 Jeep Compass off-roading
2021 Jeep Compass | Jeep

Most of the flack the Compass gets stems from its mediocre performance. Unlike its larger siblings, the Compass only offers one engine option. The Compass comes standard with a 180-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is also standard. 

Compass models with all-wheel drive replace the six-speed automatic for a nine-speed automatic. You’ll be fine driving the Compass around in typical, everyday situations. However, the Compass struggles at higher speed and often feels underpowered. 

The Compass also isn’t notably fuel-efficient for the compact SUV class. The most dynamic experience the Compass has to offer is on the off-road-oriented Trailhawk trim. But the Trailhawk model’s firmer suspension makes it less comfortable on city streets. 

“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.” 

Edmunds (2020)

The Compass won’t wow you with its predicted reliability rankings either 

A silver 2020 Jeep Compass driving down a trail in the woods
The 2020 Jeep Compass in action | Photo via Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

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On top of its lackluster performance, the Compass disappoints with its low predicted reliability scores. Consumer Reports gave the 2021 Compass a below-average reliability rating based on its past trouble spots. The SUV’s trouble spots include its transmission major/minor, drive system, engine minor, power equipment, and in-car electronics. 

“Right from the trailhead, the redesigned Compass comes up short in the white-hot small SUV market, earning the dubious distinction as the lowest-rated model in its class. It doesn’t measure up in several ways.”

Consumer Reports (2020)

Are there any reasons to go with the 2021 Jeep Compass?

A red Jeep Compass on display at an auto show
A Jeep Compass on display | John Keeble/Getty Images

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Jeep has made the 2021 version more enticing with the 80th Anniversary Edition. The 80th Anniversary limited edition models add unique badging, granite metallic paint, and more. If your heart is set on a Compass, it makes the most sense to go for the Limited or Trailhawk trims. The Limited model offers more advanced safety features, while the Trailhawk is best for adventuring and the most luxurious amenities.

The MSRP range for a 2021 Compass is between $23,915 and $30,815. At this price point, you could do a lot better. Jeep hasn’t made considerable improvements to this car since last year. Its dependability scores only make matters worse. The Mazda CX-5 is a worthy alternative, and so is the Honda CR-V. You may want to shop other Jeep SUVs with better reliability ratings, such as the Grand Cherokee.