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2021 Jeep Compass Performance

#14 out of 16 in Compact SUVs

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2021 Jeep Compass Performance Review


Performance: 5.7

The 2021 Jeep Compass is one of the few compact SUVs that deliver outstanding off-road performance. However, its on-road manners leave much to be desired due to a weak engine and mediocre handling. It also has below-average fuel economy.

  • "Not as comfortable or refined as the similarly-sized Cherokee nor as agile as some compact SUV rivals, the Compass is otherwise confident and secure." -- Autotrader
  • "Like its larger siblings, the 2020 Compass has what it takes to go off the beaten path and get you out into the wilderness. Unfortunately, as a daily driver, this compact crossover is less appealing." -- CNET (2020)
  • "When the road begins to twist and turn, the Compass isn't as nimble as competitors like the Kia Sportage or Mazda's CX-3 or CX-5." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Engine: 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available four-wheel drive
  • Transmission: standard six-speed automatic; available nine-speed automatic

The Compass' engine is decent enough for commuting around town, but its lack of power shows at higher speeds. Both transmissions are slow to find the right gear.

  • "If there’s a reason to think twice about the Compass, it’s the engine. Although its 180 hp seems perfectly competitive for the class, the resulting acceleration ultimately is not. It also sounds coarse and unrefined from behind the wheel. Not helping things is the 9-speed automatic transmission that pairs with all-wheel drive. This unit is slow when responding to throttle inputs. Passing maneuvers can be frustrating." -- Autotrader
  • "The Compass isn't as quick or as fuel-efficient as some other small SUVs. … The transmission can be slow to downshift too." -- Edmunds
  • "With 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque attempting to motivate this 3,600-pound SUV, acceleration is sluggish at best." -- CNET (2020)

MPG Estimates

The front-wheel-drive Jeep Compass delivers 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Models with four-wheel drive get 1 less mpg on the highway. These fuel economy figures are slightly low for the compact SUV class.

Handling and Braking

This Jeep is fairly comfortable to drive, but its imprecise steering, bumpy ride over uneven pavement, and noticeable body roll when cornering hinder the overall driving experience.

When it comes to hitting the trails, however, the Compass is one of the most capable SUVs in the class. Its first three trims are available with four-wheel drive, which comes with the Selec-Terrain traction management system with Auto, Snow, Sand, and Mud settings. The Trailhawk trim comes standard with a four-wheel-drive system that includes low-range gearing. It also adds a Rock traction setting, plus hill descent control and an off-road suspension.

  • "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
  • "However, the Compass does seem to feel every small bump and pavement blemish, transmitting it to the cabin." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)
  • "Handling isn't the Compass' strong suit, either. I drove it on twisting, forested roads, and while the steering felt light for the first 30 degrees of travel, it firmed up considerably past that, resulting in overall feel that was both too light and too heavy. The Compass is also softly sprung, so while ride quality is good, the Compass tips and tilts in corners, with pronounced body roll. Handling isn't much better, with prominent understeer through corners that has the little SUV pushing and scrubbing through tight sweepers." -- Cars.com (2017)
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2021 Jeep Compass

MSRP: $23,895 - $30,795

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