The Worst Compact SUV to Buy According to Car and Driver Got a Makeover

Everyone wants a compact SUV, and the market couldn’t be hotter. These SUVs, from the Honda CR-V to the Toyota RAV4 and the Mitsubishi Outlander are some of the most popular SUVs today. But not all compact SUVs can be top-rated SUVs. What do the experts at Car and Driver say is the worst of 2022?

The 2022 Jeep Compass was lowest rated

The 2022 Jeep Compass is an IIHS Top Safety Pick
The 2022 Jeep Compass SUV in red | Jeep

Of the 17 compact SUVs Car and Driver rated for 2022, the surprising last-place vehicle was the 2022 Jeep Compass. The Compass has the good looks of the much more expense Cherokee, but in 2022 the base Compass was, well, uninspired. Its base 180-horsepower engine and slow-shifting six-speecd automatic, paired with front-wheel drive, didn’t live up to Jeep’s promise of trail pounding SUVs.  That lackluster motor was the mag’s main gripe (but it’s gone for 2023).

The five-passenger Compass is also smaller inside than many of its competitors, despite its traditional SUV looks. It holds 59.8 cubic feet of cargo in the back. The 2022 RAV4, for example, holds 69.8 cubic feet while the 2022 Honda CR-V holds 75.8 cubic feet.

The 2022 isn’t all bad, in fact in higher trim levels like the Trailhawk trim, it’s quite a capable SUV. Also, Jeep upgraded the interior in 2022 to feel more contemporary. But, in base trim, it’s more of an urban runabout than a rough-and-tumble SUV. However, owners do have regrets.

The 2023 version makes the Jeep Compass a better car

2023 Jeep Compass interior
The 2023 Jeep Compass interior | Jeep

The updated version of the Compass should address many of Car and Driver’s complaints. While the Jeep Compass saw a redesign in 2022, for 2023 Jeep added even more. All new Jeep Compass SUVs get a new 200-horsepower engine and all-wheel drive standard. Also, a new eight-speed transmission should help keep that new engine purring in all the right spots.  

Jeep also added more to the Compass’s suite of driver’s safety aids, which include adaptive cruise control and full-speed forward collision warning with active braking.

Is the Jeep Compass a true 4×4?

2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk in silver in the woods
2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk | Jeep

The Compass has two all-wheel drive systems that are 4×4 systems, but they’re not like your Wrangler’s. While the Wrangler and other Jeeps have beefy transfer cases and gears, the Compass doesn’t. Instead, the Active Drive is more of an all-weather all-wheel drive system. The new Trailhawk version, however, gets a unique system that provides a low-range crawl ratio (like a Wrangler), which can help in off-road situations.

The new 2023 Jeep Compass also has a new feature that should also help save fuel: it can disconnect the rear wheels, essentially making it a fuel-sipping front-wheel drive SUV until you need 4×4.

The new 2023 Jeep Compass comes in several new special editions

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The Compass comes in five trims, Sport, Latitude, Latitude LUX, Limited, and Trail Rated Trailhawk. Stellantis, Jeep’s parent company, partnered with the (RED) campaign, and the Compass (RED) model helps fund health programs. It comes with red mirrors, different 19-inch wheels, and unique badging. The Attitude package is the new blacked-out version which gets gloss-black badges and wheels, and black cloth-and-vinyl seats. The Trailhawk continues as the top-of-the-line Compass.

While the Compass may not have Cherokee or Wrangler levels of off-road ability, it also doesn’t have those SUVs’ pricing even with standard four-wheel drive. The base Sport trim starts at $27,285, while the everything-added High Altitude starts at $37,585. The Trailhawk starts at $35,105.