2018 Subaru Crosstrek vs. 2018 Jeep Compass: Compare Cars

February 28, 2018
2018 Subaru Crosstrek first drive

2018 Subaru Crosstrek first drive

Sometimes, the road less traveled requires getting a little dirty. Enter the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek and the 2018 Jeep Compass, two small crossovers that aim to deliver a lot in small packages.

Both models are new for 2018 and they bring rugged style and versatility, if not stump-pulling performance. In our eyes, the 2018 Crosstrek’s the one to have; it rates a 7.2 out of 10. The 2018 Compass suffers for its low safety scores, coming in at a 6.3 out of 10. Here’s what we think.

MORE: Read our 2018 Subaru Crosstrek and 2018 Jeep Compass reviews

Neither one takes a traditional SUV approach. The Crosstrek is honest, perhaps too much so. It’s a Subaru Impreza with a lift kit and unpainted fender flares. It’s simple and a little homely, but it looks like it’s right out of an REI catalog. The Compass is smooth and shapely, looking something like a Grand Cherokee that was left in the dryer for too long. In Compass Trailhawk guise, it wears its meaty tires and red-painted accents with pride.

Inside, the two have good room up front, although the Subaru wins out for its narrow roof pillars and high seating position. By contrast, the Compass suffers from beefy roof pillars that could hide a Peterbilt. Rear seat passengers will be happier in the Crosstrek thanks to surprisingly good room for adults at the outboard seats. Cargo, on the other hand, will be happier in the Compass—at least with the rear seat upright. Its 27.2 cubic feet of cargo space eclipses the Subaru’s 20.8 cubes. Fold the rear seats and it’s the same story: 55 cubes for the Subaru and nearly 60 cubes for the Jeep.

2018 Subaru Crosstrek first drive

2018 Subaru Crosstrek first drive

2018 Subaru Crosstrek first drive

2018 Subaru Crosstrek first drive

2018 Subaru Crosstrek first drive

2018 Subaru Crosstrek first drive

2018 Subaru Crosstrek first drive

2018 Subaru Crosstrek first drive

The Jeep is more expressively styled inside, but there’s no faulting the Subaru’s solid workmanship and standard 6.2-inch touchscreen that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Compass comes with a 5.0-inch screen that’s bare bones, at least by 2018 standards. A 7.0-inch display is optional and highly recommended.

Neither crossovers forces shoppers to make many choices in terms of power and transmission. The Subaru’s 152-horsepower flat-4 engine works well with the available continuously variable transmission (CVT), although we applaud the availability of a standard 6-speed manual. The CVT does a better job making the most of the limited power underhood, but suffice to say that no Crosstrek is more than marginally peppy. The Compass uses a 180-hp, 2.4-liter inline-4 paired to a 6-speed manual or a 9-speed automatic. That sounds great, but in reality the automatic is a poor match for the occasionally gruff 4-cylinder. Also, Jeep charges extra for all-wheel drive, while Subaru makes it standard.

Most Jeep Compass trim levels aren’t suited for more than dirt roads thanks to their limited ground clearance and low-hanging bumpers, but the Trailhawk reverses that. It has a raised suspension and a simulated low range for its transmission that make it more capable than the Crosstrek. Still, even a standard Crosstrek is a formidable mud-plugger right out of the box.

Features, safety, and value

Bypass the sparsely equipped Compass Sport with all-wheel drive and the automatic and suddenly you’re looking at a base price of nearly $27,000. That’s not bad, but the price escalates rapidly with a few options. Pile on automatic emergency braking, heated seats, and the upgraded infotainment screen for Apple and Android and you’ll spend more than $30,000.

That’s the upper end for the Crosstrek, which starts about $22,000 and is well-equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight suite of safety gear for $26,000. Tick all the boxes and a fully loaded Crosstrek with leather seats, navigation, a sunroof, and Harman Kardon audio costsjust over $30,000.

2018 Jeep Compass

2018 Jeep Compass

2018 Jeep Compass

2018 Jeep Compass

2018 Jeep Compass

2018 Jeep Compass

2018 Jeep Compass

2018 Jeep Compass

Regardless of price, the Subaru has performed much better in crash tests. The federal government rates it five stars overall and the IIHS says it’s a Top Safety Pick. That’s not the same story with the Compass, which earned four stars from the feds including a worrisome three-star score in the calculated rollover test.

Our money’s on the Subaru, which overcomes its quirky looks and pokey performance to offer far more small crossover for the money than the Jeep Compass.

Summary

6.3
Expert Rating
The 2018 Jeep Compass makes some compromises in size and power, but its Trailhawk model hits the crossover-SUV sweet spot.
7.2
Expert Rating
The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek smooths over the edges that we didn’t like with the last version. It’s smooth, quiet, and capable—all good things because it won’t be rushed.

Styling

7.0
Expert Rating
Unremarkable but pleasant inside, the 2018 Jeep Compass has hints of Cherokee in its profile.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek will be like your favorite pair of jeans—suitable for daily duty, if not wholly at home at a formal affair.
Read More

Performance

6.0
Expert Rating
Ride and handling goes into the Jeep Compass plus column, but power is mediocre.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek doesn’t change the formula from previous iterations: flat-4, competent transmissions, and capable all-wheel drive. You could find better performance, but it’d cost tens of thousands more.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

6.0
Expert Rating
A narrow cabin and a high cargo floor hamper the Jeep Compass’ utility, but it’s finished well.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
Comfort isn’t the Crosstrek’s first mission, but it’s the one that’s most dramatically improved for this year.
Read More

Safety

4.0
Expert Rating
Crash scores for the 2018 Jeep Compass are mixed.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek earns top marks for crash safety and prevention.
Read More

Features

8.0
Expert Rating
The Jeep Compass Trailhawk stands out in this crossover-SUV class, and all versions come well-equipped.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek makes a compelling value proposition in base models.
Read More

Fuel Economy

7.0
Expert Rating
Every Jeep Compass earns EPA combined ratings of 25 mpg or more.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek manages to be fuel-efficient, even with standard all-wheel drive.
Read More

MSRP

from $21,095
from $21,795

Invoice

from $20,960
from $20,692

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

26
25

Engine

Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.4 L
Regular Unleaded H-4, 2.0 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
All Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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