2020 Jeep Compass Review
  • Car Review

2020 Jeep Compass Review

By Autolist Editorial | August 27, 2020

Quick Facts:

Pros:

  • Actual off-road capability.
  • Generous technology offerings.
  • Rugged styling.

Cons:

  • Can become expensive quickly
  • Clunky automatic gearbox
  • Not as refined or comfortable as its rivals.

Vehicle Type: Compact, two-row crossover SUV.

Price Range: $23,775 to $31,345, including destination but before options.

Powertrain: The 2020 Compass comes with Jeep’s 2.4-liter “Tigershark” four-cylinder engine that produces 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque.

The engine is equipped with stop-start technology and is connected to a six-speed manual, a six-speed automatic, or a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Front-wheel drive is standard, while four-wheel drive is available.

More Photos

See more 2020 Jeep Compass photos here.


Overview:

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The Jeep Compass is the compact crossover for people who want the capability of a trail-conquering SUV without the rough ride and unrefined road manners that a full-on off-roader can sometimes bring to the table.

Jeep gave the Compass some minor updates for the 2020 model year, which includes a bevy of newly-available features for the base Sport trim, new seating packages for the top three trims, and new colors for various trim levels.

The Compass competes in the cutthroat compact crossover segment dominated by the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Volkswagen Tiguan, Hyundai Tucson, Chevy Equinox, and Mazda CX-5. It is targeted at car buyers that want a compact crossover that can do legitimately tough off-road duty when asked.

Buyers looking elsewhere in Jeep’s lineup can opt for the smaller Jeep Renegade, and those that want more room can opt for the Cherokee or Grand Cherokee.

Only one powertrain is available for 2020 Compass models. It’s a 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder that produces 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while both a six-speed and a nine-speed automatic are available. Power is sent to the front wheels by default, but the Compass is also available with four-wheel drive.

The Compass is available in four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk. Only the Trailhawk model comes standard with four-wheel-drive.

The 2020 model year brings a host of available features to the base Sport trim. Rear cross-traffic alerts, parking sensors, blind-spot monitors, and more are available with the Safety and Security package. There’s also an available Advanced Safety package, which includes adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warnings, automatic high beam headlights, and more.

Jeep offers a wide array of options and packages that make the Compass one of the most customizable compact crossovers. A whopping seven options packages are available that bring everything from extra towing capabilities to advanced safety equipment to upgraded LED lighting elements.

Overall Score: 6.7/10


Safety Features: 5/10

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the Compass ‘Good’ in all crashworthiness categories. The headlights were rated ‘Marginal’ or ‘Poor,’ depending on the trim and configuration, and vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention was rated ‘Superior’ with the optional safety equipment on board. Vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention was not rated, as there are no related options available for the 2020 Compass.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rated the Compass four stars overall out of five. That includes four stars for overall front crash tests, five stars for side crash tests, and four stars for rollover resistance.

Available safety features include blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, full-speed forward-collision warnings, active brake assist, hill-start assist, front-seat active headrests, front and rear parking assistance, a rearview camera with active grid lines, a remote start system, lane-departure warnings, lane-keeping assist, automatic headlights, automatic high-beam headlights, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control.

Most safety features are locked away in options packages or in higher trim levels. The 2020 model year updates made many of the most popular safety features available for the base Sport trim, but it’s still a $945 option to add them.


Value: 7/10

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The Compass offers a fairly mainstream set of features and options. It’s also priced a bit higher than its competition when comparing similar models. The off-road-ready Trailhawk trim could be considered a good value, as it brings a set of rugged features and styling touches that are not available elsewhere in the compact crossover segment.

The Compass’ interior is tough and rugged by design. It’s comfortable and welcoming, but there’s a utilitarian feel that could make some buyers feel that they’re not getting their money’s worth.

The base Compass Sport starts in the low $20,000-range, which seems like a steal until you consider that most of the best features and options are only available for more money. For many buyers, the Jeep Cherokee makes more sense and has more space and comfort features.

With options, the Compass’ MSRP gets dangerously close to $40,000. At that price point, there are several other options that offer a better ride, more equipment, and a longer warranty.


Tech Features: 7/10

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Standard features include a seven-inch touchscreen, Uconnect 4, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, voice commands, Bluetooth, USB, and auxiliary inputs, a six-speaker audio system, and SiriusXM radio.

Available features include an 8.4-inch touchscreen, navigation, HD radio, SiriusXM traffic and weather, and an Alpine premium audio system with nine speakers and subwoofer.

FCA’s (Jeep’s parent company) Uconnect infotainment system is one of the easiest to use and most intuitive systems on the market. The recent upgrade to Uconnect 4 made it even more user-friendly, with a colorful interface and easy-to-understand features. It’s a responsive system with clearly labeled menus and controls that is simple to use while the vehicle is in motion and does not distract the driver as badly as other systems.


Practicality: 7/10

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The Compass’ cargo space falls short of some of its competitors, but the space it does have is organized well and offers plenty of small-item storage throughout the cabin.

The Compass loses points for its rear-seat LATCH system. Installing a car seat can be a real pain, as the anchor points are hidden deep within the seat cushions, which makes them extremely difficult to find and use.

Despite its ground clearance and off-road-ready stance, the Compass’ wide door openings make for easy entry and exit. That makes the Jeep a great crossover for people who regularly transport passengers with mobility issues, as well as for parents who need to load and unload children on a regular basis.

Certain versions of the Compass can tow up to 2,000 pounds. That’s better than many in the class and makes the Compass a great weekend companion for buyers that own a small boat or that need to tow a small trailer.


Styling & Design: 8/10

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The Compass is a Jeep, through and through, and its styling reflects that. The crossover sports a traditional Jeep grille, with rectangular vents, a strong profile with muscular proportions like bulging wheel arches, and big off-road tires for the Trailhawk trim.

Inside, the Compass is designed for utility and usability over style. That’s not to say that it’s not a nice place to be, but it does help reinforce the Compass’ Jeep roots. All controls and functions are labeled clearly and are set up to be instantly usable without a learning curve,

Even though it’s built to be utilitarian, the interior is handsome and welcoming in its design.

The Compass’ ride height affords it greater off-road ability and also makes it look the part. There’s more daylight underneath the Compass than most other vehicles in its class.

Higher trim levels can feel downright luxurious with nice interior finishes and materials, leather upholstery, and upscale technology features.


Driving Experience: 6/10

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There’s only one engine available for the Compass for the 2020 model year, and unfortunately, it’s not the best match. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine feels sluggish and seems to easily confuse the optional nine-speed automatic transmission. With the manual gearbox, drivers will find themselves shifting gears frequently to find the right spot.

The Compass isn’t as refined as the competition, but it’s worth noting that the competition isn’t as capable off-road. It feels more agreeable than it looks, especially when the roads become twisty. There’s a bit of body roll, which is to be expected from an off-roader, but the Compass maintains its composure without any issues.

Steering is nicely weighted and helps the Compass feel solid and planted in most situations. Handling is predictable, and maneuvering the crossover in tight spaces is quite easy, thanks to its compact proportions and easy steering


Fuel Efficiency: 7/10

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When equipped with front-wheel-drive and a six-speed manual gearbox, the Compass is rated at 23/32/26 mpg city/hwy/combined. With four-wheel drive, those numbers shift to 22/31/25 mpg.

With an automatic transmission and front-wheel drive, the Compass is rated at 22/31/25 mpg. Four-wheel drive changes those numbers to 22/30/25 mpg.

The Compass is on par with its competitors, especially when the tiny fuel economy penalty for four-wheel-drive is taken into account.

The Compass is lacking a hybrid or plug-in hybrid option. The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 offer the option, which greatly improves their fuel economy across the board.


What’s it Going to Cost Me?

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The base 2020 Jeep Compass Sport starts at $23,775 after a $1,495 destination charge and comes with a 2.4-liter engine, a manual transmission, front-wheel drive, push-button start, traction control settings, body-color exterior accents, quad halogen headlights, daytime running lights, power-adjustable mirrors, 16-inch wheels, power windows and door locks, dual-zone automatic climate controls, folding rear seats, a 3.5-inch driver information display, floor mats, 12-volt outlets in the center stack and cargo area, cloth upholstery, manual seat adjustments, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, voice commands, Bluetooth, six speakers, a seven-inch touchscreen, USB inputs, auxiliary inputs, a telematics module, hill-start assist, seatbelt pretensioners, an occupant classification system, a panic alarm, a rearview camera, and rear door child protection.

Four-wheel drive is a $1,500 option. Adding a six-speed automatic transmission increases the price by another $1,500.

The Compass Latitude starts at $27,365 and comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch wheels, rear air vents, LED interior lights, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a premium steering wheel, vinyl interior trim, a remote proximity key, and SiriusXM radio.

The Jeep Compass Trailhawk has a starting price of $31,345 and comes with 4WD, a nine-speed automatic transmission, active low-range mode, automatic drive mode functions for snow, sand, mud, and rock, off-road suspension, Trail Rated badges, a full-size spare tire, illuminated cup holders, a seven-inch full-color driver information display, all-season floor mats, a 115-volt outlet, leather upholstery, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, and hill-descent control.

The Jeep Compass Limited starts at $30,370 and comes with 18-inch wheels, a heated steering wheel, a remote start system, and a security alarm.

Jeep offers a handful of special editions and models that come pre-loaded with popular options. Since these models change and are not considered part of the core lineup, we haven’t added them here. They include the Sun and Safety Compass, Compass Altitude, Compass North Edition, and the Compass High Altitude.

Jeep holds back many options in packages and as standalone additions. Even the top Limited and Trailhawk trims do not have features like navigation until they are added via options packages.

The 2020 update brought several safety features down to the base trim level, but it’s at least a $945 upcharge to add them. Even four-wheel drive is optional for all but the Trailhawk trim, a surprise for any vehicle from Jeep.

If we were buying a Compass today, our money would pick up the Trailhawk trim. It’s a unique beast among compact crossovers and has real, usable off-road abilities that make it worth its price tag. It’s the only model in the Compass lineup that comes standard with four-wheel drive, and it has the muscular looks to back up its nameplate. Fuel economy doesn’t suffer too badly from the added off-road equipment, and the Trailhawk’s interior is luxurious with leather upholstery and upscale tech.


More Photos

See more 2020 Jeep Compass photos here.