• Car Review

2021 Jeep Compass Review

By Autolist Editorial | December 9, 2020

Quick Facts:


  • Handsome exterior styling.
  • Surprising all-terrain capabilities.
  • Many standard infotainment features.


  • Not as roomy or refined as top rivals.
  • Few standard advanced safety aids.
  • Underwhelming interior material quality.

Would we buy one? Yes but only after testing key rivals first.

Vehicle Type: Compact crossover SUV.

Price Range: Base pricing starts at $33,290 MSRP going to $43,435 before options. Pricing includes a $1,495 destination charge.

Powertrain: A 180-horsepower four-cylinder gas engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive is standard; four-wheel-drive and a nine-speed automatic are available.

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Overall Score: 7/10

Safety Features: 6/10


The 2021 model year Jeep Compass has many available driver safety features, but most only come standard on the most expensive Limited and Trailhawk trims. These features include forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. These are standard on top trims with an MSRP over $30,000, including the destination fee. By comparison, the Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4 include most of these on base trims priced closer to $25,000.

Essential safety features come standard, like a backup camera, brake assist, traction control, stability control, front-side airbags, a driver knee airbag, and front/rear curtain airbags. The available four-wheel-drive system provides excellent available traction in lousy weather.

The Jeep Compass fared well in safety testing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Compass an overall four-out-of-five safety rating. The RAV4 and Tucson got a five. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave Jeep top marks in all crash tests, though it received a 'Poor' in the headlights category.

Value: 9/10


Despite some concerns with interior refinement and the powertrain's performance and efficiency, the Jeep Compass represents a surprisingly good value. Shoppers will appreciate its handsome and stylish exterior and the available four-wheel-drive system that will likely get much farther off-road than competitors' all-wheel-drive setups.

It is priced near the bottom of the compact SUV segment, and for that pricing, it has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, push-button ignition, dual-zone climate control, and heated power side mirrors. Spending a little more money adds fog lamps, leather seats, a power-adjustable driver's seat, and remote start.

The Jeep Compass is an excellent choice for those wanting a small SUV that's easy to maneuver in traffic but also something fun for light off-roading on the weekends. Few SUVs offer such all-terrain versatility at this price.

Jeep includes a standard warranty of three-years/36,000-miles. The powertrain has five-year/60,000-mile coverage, and an identical period of complimentary roadside assistance.

Tech Features: 8/10


For the price, the Jeep Compass has one of the better standard infotainment systems. The 7.0-inch touchscreen comes included with Sport and Latitude trims, featuring Bluetooth hands-free calling, music streaming, front and rear USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a six-speaker audio system.

The integrated Uconnect infotainment software works well, with intuitive menus. The Latitude also has satellite radio. The Altitude adds an 8.4-inch touchscreen, while available features include a navigation system, an Alpine premium sound system, a WiFi hotspot, and HD Radio.

Practicality: 7/10


The Jeep Compass has below-average practicality for its class. The four-wheel-drive model provides 2,000 pounds of towing, which is better than a small sedan, and it has the added benefit of all-season traction. Within the Jeep's compact body, there is decent cargo space, at 27.2 cubic feet. Folding down the back seat expands it to 59.8 cubic feet.

The cabin has storage options, like a glove box, center console bin, and cupholders, but few small-item trays for items like keys, sunglasses, and snacks. Some larger rivals like Honda and Toyota have more user-friendly interiors with smarter controls and plentiful storage cubbies.

The available 4WD system also makes the Jeep a more practical choice in extreme environments than most compact SUVs' AWD systems, providing low-range traction when it matters. The Trailhawk has nifty red tow hooks, which are as useful as they are cool to look at.

Styling & Design: 6/10


The Jeep Compass looks similar to most larger Jeep SUVs, besides the unique Jeep Wrangler. The handsome and refined front end looks very similar to the midsize Jeep Grand Cherokee, while the rest of the body has a similar sportiness to the compact Jeep Cherokee. The small Compass has more angular rear roof pillars, giving it an almost hatchback appeal. The available black contrast roof further accentuates this sleek detail. It looks much more Jeep-like than its little sibling, the funky subcompact Jeep Renegade.

In the cabin, the Compass has a reasonably similar setup to its corporate siblings mentioned above, with a large padded steering wheel, chunky dashboard controls, and supportive seats that blend crossover SUV comfort with the rugged look of a Jeep. Cloth upholstery is standard on the Compass Sport trim, while the Latitude and Altitude trim levels employ cloth and vinyl seating.

The 80th Anniversary Edition and Limited trims get soft leather upholstery, while the off-road Trailhawk model has exclusive leather/cloth. All models come with dual-zone climate control and push-button ignition. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel are standard on the Limited.

Driving Experience: 6/10


The Jeep Compass employs a 2.4-liter gas inline-four engine, which runs on regular unleaded fuel and produces 180 horsepower and 175 pound-foot of torque. It is powerful enough for around-town driving and highway speeds, but it is not nearly as sporty as the Mazda CX-5. Its six-speed automatic transmission features a sport mode that helps liven up performance somewhat. A nine-speed auto comes with four-wheel-drive models.

The ride is reasonably smooth and quiet for a small SUV. The interior is a comfortable place to be, with supportive seats and optional leather upholstery. Unfortunately, cabin refinement is let down somewhat by low-quality plastic accents. Competitors like the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester use more durable-looking interiors with a better fit and finish.

Jeep provides good outward visibility, helping drivers out with narrow roof pillars and tall side windows. The available blind-spot monitoring system further enhances the driver's awareness of surroundings.

Fuel Efficiency: 7/10


Gas mileage is about average for the class, at an EPA-estimated 22/31/25 mpg city/highway/combined. Those numbers dip to 22/30/25 mpg with the four-wheel-drive system. Rivals like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 provide better fuel economy, especially in available hybrid form. A tradeoff in fuel economy is not so bad when considering the little Jeep's off-road skills, which are rare for its segment.

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