Crossover & Midsize

Why Are Jeep Compass Owners So Frustrated With Their SUV?

Jeep is known for brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Beloved models like the Wrangler, Gladiator, and Grand Cherokee offer a unique blend of off-road capability and on-pavement aptitude that owners love. However, not all Jeeps fit this bill. The Jeep Compass compact SUV is a perfect example of how some cars try to be a jack of all trades but end up as a master of none.

The Compass is one of the cheapest Jeeps, but it might not give you the biggest bang for your buck. It’ll never provide the height of 4×4 capability of a Wrangler, and it doesn’t offer the same premium amenities as a Grand Cherokee. Instead, the Jeep Compass is suited for frugal buyers who want a hint of these aspects without having to spend more than $30,000.

The Jeep Compass’ limited potential isn’t its only problem. Owners and critics alike have taken issue with other details of the affordable compact SUV. Let’s take a more in-depth look at why the Jeep Compass can be such a frustrating vehicle to own.

Experts find fault with the Jeep Compass’ overall package

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

It’s important to note that critics and owners often differentiate how they value a vehicle’s particular features and statistics. The experts put significant stock into safety systems, efficiency, and drivability. Meanwhile, owners tend to care more about comfort, reliability, and technology.

Since being redesigned in 2017, the Jeep Compass has failed to impress in these categories. The U.S. News & World Report routinely lists the Compass toward the back of its compact SUV overall rankings. For example, the publication put the 2021 Jeep Compass in 14th place, just ahead of the lowly Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, in its most recent chart.

Critics like the U.S. News & World Report took issue with the Compass’ low fuel economy rating. The EPA estimates that it gets 25 MPG city/highway combined, which is below average in the compact SUV segment. 

How safe is the Jeep Compass? Unfortunately, its lack of standard safety features doesn’t earn it any favor from the experts, either. It only comes standard with a rearview camera, and its available driver-assistance technologies can be costly upgrades. Meanwhile, many competitors feature safety systems like an automatic emergency braking system as standard equipment.

Industry experts have praised the Jeep Compass for its capable available four-wheel-drive system. However, that hardly makes up for its poor drivability. The U.S. News & World Report said, “While its ride is mostly comfortable, this Jeep suffers from pronounced body lean and poor steering feedback.”

What do owners have to say?

On the surface, the Jeep Compass doesn’t seem like it has too much to offer outside of limited off-road capability. Do owners feel the same way?

This compact SUV draws in potential customers with its rugged design that’s reminiscent of classic off-roaders. However, some drivers found that it has trouble keeping up with their daily grind. 

According to Kelley Blue Book’s consumer ratings, the current-gen Compass is the most lambasted Jeep model. It earned a rating of just 3.6/5, which is extremely low compared to other Jeeps and compact SUVs.

Several Jeep Compass owners noted electrical issues and a “jerky” transmission, among other mechanical problems.

One KBB reviewer said, “I want to love this car, and part of me does, except for the fact it has been nothing but a problem so far. I’ve had it just under five months, and I’ve already had to have electrical work done on it. Now, it’s going back to the shop for transmission issues.”

Is the Jeep Compass worth buying?

RELATED: Why Do 2017 Jeep Compass Owners Regret Their Purchase?

The 2021 Jeep Compass is tempting with its starting MSRP of just $23,895, and older models can be had for considerably less. However, there are better options on the market. For instance, the Subaru Forester is similarly priced, and it comes standard with all-wheel drive.

Those committed to buying a Jeep might have better luck with the popular Jeep Renegade. This subcompact SUV is slightly smaller than the Compass, but it has a higher KBB consumer rating.