The Jeep brand evokes images of a rugged Wrangler tearing through the great outdoors. You might also think of the Cherokee or Renegade with their distinctive Jeep aesthetic and all the functionality you’d expect from these popular SUVs.
That’s quite a pedestal to sit on. But can Jeep still walk the walk? Or is the automaker taking its status and popularity for granted? Here’s a look at why Consumer Reports rated the Jeep Compass the lowest in its segment.
The 2021 Jeep Compass at a glance
The Compass is undeniably a Jeep. The 2021 model offers one of the automaker’s more visually appealing designs and trademark grille. It even boasts some off-roading chops, which you don’t often find in a compact crossover.
Its ride quality can’t compete with that of popular rivals like the Honda CR-V. And it doesn’t offer the Cherokee’s towing or off-roading capabilities.
The Compass’s sole engine choice — a 2.4-liter four-cylinder — makes only 180 hp. The front-wheel-drive models have a six-speed automatic transmission that’s nothing to write home about. And the all-wheel-drive models get a slow-shifting automatic nine-speed automatic.
The interior also falls short. Sure, it packs popular technology features and decent cargo space. But the cabin materials are lackluster and not the same quality level as its popular peers.
So if you’re shopping for a new compact SUV, the 2021 Jeep Compass shouldn’t be at the top of your list.
The 2021 Jeep Compass’s dismal score from Consumer Reports
The consumer organization Consumer Reports appears to concur with Car and Driver. The 2021 Jeep Compass earned an abysmal overall score of 39 out of 100 from CR for several reasons. The CR team said the Compass’s many flaws earned it “the dubious distinction as the lowest-rated model in its class.”
In its second generation and sharing a platform with the Jeep Renegade, the Compass borrows cosmetic elements from the Grand Cherokee. The rest simply doesn’t measure up to Jeep’s proud legacy.
CR’s experts also took issue with the Compass’s underwhelming powertrain. Though it gets average fuel economy for the class, they didn’t care for the slow downshifts, slower response, and poor acceleration.
The steering is neither fast nor precise, and it doesn’t exactly instill a sense of control in the driver. However, the CR team found the handling secure. But they also pointed out that the brake pedal is sensitive, making a smooth stop tricky and the ride a little edgy.
They also thought the driver’s seat lacked support, and the backseat felt awkward. Plus, considerable engine noise permeated their test vehicle’s cabin.
But what might grab your attention most is the 1-of-5 owner satisfaction rating Consumer Reports gave the new Compass.
Little to love
OK, it wasn’t all bad. Consumer Reports found a few things to like about the 2021 Jeep Compass. They just aren’t things that would convince you to buy one.
The SUV’s Uconnect infotainment system has a 7.0-inch touchscreen and an 8.4-inch optional version. CR’s experts found the system responsive and user-friendly. They liked that the driver could use the system to control the optional heated steering wheel and seats.
The Jeep Compass also offers a good selection of advanced safety features. However, you have to pay extra for them. They include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and rear cross-traffic warning.
The $23,915 starting price sounds great until you take a closer look. Then you realize that to get many of the good features, you’ll have to purchase at least a mid-trim level like the Latitude, whose MSRP is closer to $30,000. For that money, CR says, you can buy one of the Compass’s rivals that’s fun to drive and offers more.