Why Is the 2020 Jeep Compass on Consumer Reports’ Worst SUV List?

While the Wrangler may get the most press, Jeep has more crossovers and SUVs available. One of them is the compact Jeep Compass. Unfortunately, despite its popularity, the Compass isn’t a particularly well-recommended crossover/SUV. In fact, it’s on Consumer Reports’ list of worst SUVs for 2020. But does it belong there?

2020 Jeep Compass: trims, pricing, specs, and features

A white 2020 Jeep Compass drives next to a rocky hill
2020 Jeep Compass | Jeep

The 2020 Jeep Compass is available in several trims which also carry over for 2021, Car and Driver reports. Unfortunately, the plug-in hybrid Compass 4xe isn’t coming to the US—at least not for the foreseeable future.

The base 2020 Jeep Compass is the front-wheel-drive Sport, which starts at $22,280; 4WD adds $1500. Moving up, there’s the $25,870 Latitude, $26,765 Sun and Wheel, $27,290 Altitude, $28,875 Limited, $29,850 Trailhawk, and $31,145 High Altitude. All but the Trailhawk come with FWD as standard. The Sun and Wheel trim, though, doesn’t offer 4WD, while the Trailhawk is a 4WD-only trim.

Each 2020 Jeep Compass is powered by the same engine, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 180 hp and 175 lb-ft, Autotrader reports. The Sport and AWD Latitude come standard with a 6-speed manual, while the other FWD trims have a 6-speed automatic. The other AWD trims, though, have a 9-speed automatic.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on each 2020 Jeep Compass, as are dual-zone automatic climate control and heated mirrors. If you want ADAS features like blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, or automatic emergency braking, though, those are optional extras.

The red-trimmed black interior of the 2020 Jeep Compass Trailhawk
2020 Jeep Compass Trailhawk interior | Jeep

A 7” touchscreen is standard on all but the Limited, which as an 8.4” touchscreen. The Limited and High Altitude also offer standard leather upholstery and navigation, as well as a heated steering wheel and heated front seats, Motor1 reports. The latter 2 are optional on lesser trims.

The 2020 Jeep Compass’ 4WD system includes snow, sand, and mud settings. But if you’re looking to go off-roading, the Trailhawk is the trim to get, Car and Driver reports. Its 4WD system includes Rock and Crawl Modes. It also has skid plates, hill-descent control, and a 1”-higher ride height, giving 8.5” of ground clearance, Roadshow reports.

Why did Consumer Reports rank the 2020 Jeep Compass so poorly?

2020 Jeep Wrangler Sahara EcoDiesel in the canyons
2020 Jeep Wrangler Sahara EcoDiesel | Jeep

The 2020 Jeep Compass isn’t the worst Jeep in Consumer Reportsranking. The Wrangler, Renegade, and Gladiator all have lower overall scores. However, it’s the lowest-scoring 2020 model year compact SUV/crossover that Consumer Reports has tested.

RELATED: Never Buy The Jeep Compass Instead of The Jeep Renegade

One of the biggest issues is reliability and owner satisfaction. Consumer Reports finds the Jeep Compass has average reliability, but significantly below-average owner satisfaction. And that’s likely due to the problems surrounding the crossover’s 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder. This engine is at the center of a class-action lawsuit due to its myriad issues.

The engine itself is also neither refined nor particularly powerful, Consumer Reports notes. Motor Trend calls it “belabored,” noting that the 9-speed automatic’s tendency to go into the highest gear possible hurts acceleration even more. And Car and Driver reports the 6-speed automatic may be the smoother option.

The powertrain isn’t the 2020 Jeep Compass’ only weakness, though. It has roughly the same interior dimensions as the larger Cherokee, Car and Driver reports. However, the larger crossover has more-powerful engines, a higher-quality interior, better ride quality, and can tow significantly more. The Jeep Cherokee also has more rear legroom than the Compass and offers more optional features.

RELATED: The 2020 Jeep Compass Fails to Keep up With Competitors

There’s also the value problem. Roadshow recommends getting the base Jeep Compass Sport because the higher trims aren’t necessarily worth their price tags. And while The Drive notes the Trailhawk model is decent off-pavement, it’s only slightly cheaper than a 4-door Wrangler Sport.

Does it have any positive attributes?

One of the Jeep Compass’s best attributes is its infotainment system, MT reports. FCA’s Uconnect system is easy and very intuitive to use.

RELATED: The Jeep Compass is Slightly Better Than the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Autoblog reports the seats are comfortable, though they lack sufficient lateral support. And the Compass is fairly quiet, apart from the engine’s buzzing. However, although the ride quality is decent, it creates more body roll than it should given its relative stiffness.

A red 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD on a rainy city street
2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD | Matthew Skwarczek

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If you do want to go off-road in a crossover, MT reports the Jeep Compass has a lot to offer compared to the competition. However, if you want an overall better compact crossover/SUV, the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 remain better choices. And they’re both ranked higher on Consumer Reports’ list.

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