2020 Jeep Compass

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Brian León Brian León Contributing Writer
July 16, 2020

Buying tip

Now that active safety features are available on all models, the base Sport version of the Compass doesn’t seem like such a compromise.

features & specs

Altitude 4x4
Altitude FWD
High Altitude 4x4
22 city / 30 hwy
22 city / 31 hwy
22 city / 30 hwy

The 2020 Jeep Compass is smartly sized and priced but lacks in key areas like safety and efficiency.

The 2020 Jeep Compass is a ‘tweener crossover SUV. It’s not quite as small as a Renegade, not quite as large as a Cherokee. 

With good looks and capability but compromises in safety and performance, we give it a middle-of-the-road 5.3 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2020, the Compass comes in Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk, and Limited editions. The 2020 Compass family gets some additional options including safety tech features on every trim including the base Sport model and a luxury seat package that includes heated and cooled power front seats.

Review continues below

In terms of styling, the Compass is more Grand Cherokee than Wrangler, adopting swoopy styling and business-friendly finishing touches. The interior is similarly reserved, and can be had in either light or dark color schemes. Trailhawk models dial up the intensity with black accents on the exterior and red trim inside, reflecting this trim’s go-anywhere attitude.

A 2.4-liter inline-4 is the only engine available and is adequate for jaunts around town but not much else. What lets the powertrain down is the easily confused 9-speed automatic transmission, though a 6-speed automatic or manual is available with front-wheel-drive models. All-wheel drive is optional on the Compass, as one would expect from Jeep. Ride quality is fine, and road manners won’t keep anyone from enjoying a Compass—and in Trailhawk mode, it’s a decently capable off-roader.

The Compass cabin has better leg room than shoulder room, so while four adults fit, five will be pinched. Cargo space is good, as it should be in any crossover SUV.

Safety leaves something to be desired, with only a four-star overall crash test rating from the federal government, though the IIHS gives the Compass “Good” scores all around minus the headlights. The base Sport model gets the option for both passive and active safety features this year, but they still are not standard features.

Unlike some Jeep models, the 2020 Compass is well-equipped even in base Sport mode, with a 7.0-inch infotainment system that features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and two USB ports. Upgraded models add bigger wheels, power and heated seats, leather upholstery, an upgraded 8.4-inch infotainment unit, and navigation as well as other goodies.

Fuel economy is average at around 25 mpg combined, but could be better given that larger competitors manage higher average figures.


2020 Jeep Compass


The 2020 Jeep Compass is a miniature Grand Cherokee from a looks standpoint, and that’s okay with us.

The 2020 Jeep Compass is a budget Grand Cherokee in nearly every way, and that’s okay with us. With sleek style inside and out, we give it 7 out of 10.

Jeep’s lineup is split along a styling line—rugged, off-road-oriented models like the Wrangler and Renegade (and now Gladiator) use boxy lines and round headlights, while sleeker SUVs like the Compass, Cherokee, and Grand Cherokee wear slacks and a blazer, figuratively. The Compass falls in the latter group for its wider headlights, sleek lines with rounded corners, and relatively staid interior. We think it works well for the little Jeep, and certainly a lot better than the old Compass.

Sport trim models look decidedly down-market, but the Trailhawk and Limited trims are convincingly rugged and luxurious, respectively.

The interior smartly blends practicality and suave style, gathering knobs and buttons around the 7.0-inch standard infotainment system, while a variety of upholsteries offer some visual flair.

Review continues below

2020 Jeep Compass


The 2020 Jeep Compass is comfortable to drive and capable off road, but its more popular drivetrain is a letdown.

The 2020 Jeep Compass is underpowered but more refined than the Renegade and does better around town than in the sticks. We give it 5 out of 10 here.

The Compass comes only with a 2.4-liter inline-4 that makes 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is technically standard, but good luck finding one on dealer lots, and front-wheel drive is equipped out the door. Latitude and Limited models get a 6-speed automatic with front-wheel drive, while a 9-speed auto is available for all-wheel-drive Compasses; it’s standard on the Trailhawk and Limited models.

The engine is adequate at best, proving better around town than on the highways or off road, but the 9-speed auto is easily confused and indecisive.

An independent suspension setup absorbs road imperfections admirably, and the Trailhawk’s raised, beefier springs are surprisingly capable off road. Sixteen-inch wheels on the base Sport model offer the most comfort, but stepping up an inch on Latitude and Trailhawk models don’t spoil the ride. Handling is competent too, and while the steering is light, the Compass is maneuverable and sprightly.

Trailhawks get an extra inch of ride height, for a total of about 8.4 inches, and the 9-speed automatic has a low first gear that simulates a 20:1 crawl ratio. It also has a Rock traction mode that helps the Trailhawk pick its way down tricky declines.

Review continues below

2020 Jeep Compass

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Jeep Compass is reasonably comfortable and spacious for four adults.

The 2020 Jeep Compass has more class than in years past, but comfort and practicality leave something to be desired. We give it 6 out of 10 here.

The front seats feature thin padding and small bolsters, and though height-adjustability is standard, we’d want more comfortable thrones on a daily driver. The rear seat is adequate for two adults. Leg room in the back is above average with 38.3 inches—good enough, but the Compass’s narrow profile makes fitting three occupants in the rear tricky.

Behind the rear seats, 27.2 cubic inches of cargo space is about on par with competitors, but a high load floor makes stowing larger and heavier items tricky.

Material quality is generally good too, with soft-touch plastics and durable cloth upholstery, but the leather hides that come standard on the Limited trim feel thin and flimsy.

Review continues below

2020 Jeep Compass


The 2020 Jeep Compass expands available safety features, but mixed crash test results are cause for concern.

The 2020 Jeep Compass receives mixed safety scores from the major agencies, but active safety tech is expanded for this year. We give it 3 out of 10, with two points off the average score for low federal crash-test scores.

For the 2020 model year, all Compass trims including the base Sport get the option for active and passive safety features split into two packages, including automatic emergency braking, active lane control, automatic high beam headlights, blind-spot monitors, rain-sensing wipers, and active parking assist with front and rear sensors. That’s an improvement, but these features should be standard by now as other competitors are starting to offer them as standard equipment.

Standard active safety tech would also go a long way towards assuaging concerns about the Compass’s crash test scores, which include a four-star overall rating from the NHTSA with only three stars for rollover protection. The IIHS gave it “Good” marks all around, but poor headlights keep it from earning a Top Safety Pick award.


2020 Jeep Compass


The 2020 Jeep Compass is better value at the bottom of the range with key options like safety tech now available.

The 2020 Jeep Compass offers decent standard equipment but lacks popular and important active safety tech as standard. At least it’s expanded in terms of availability this year. The Compass’ infotainment system earns its extra point above average, for a total of 6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Compass comes in Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk, and Limited trims, increasing the amount of standard and available features at every level. As standard Sport model get 16-inch wheels, keyless ignition, air conditioning, cloth seats, two USB charging ports, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility for around $23,000. All-wheel drive costs about $1,500 extra. The Sport model—our pick for value—comes with a few desirable options packages too, including an appearance package, a digital gauge cluster display, heated front seats and steering wheel, and alloy wheels. For 2020, active and passive safety tech packages are available on the Sport but should be standard throughout.

Stepping up to the Latitude includes 17-inch wheels, upgraded cloth, and a few more options, while the Limited model includes leather, heated seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and an upgraded 8.4-inch infotainment screen.

The Trailhawk model slots below the Limited but is for those who intend to take their Compass off-road occasionally, or just like the look of plastic body cladding and black graphics as well as red interior accents. A beefed-up suspension system, all-terrain tires, and a low-range gearbox as well as standard all-wheel drive do make it a capable runabout off the beaten path, however.

Review continues below

2020 Jeep Compass

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Jeep Compass manages around 25 mpg combined regardless of powertrain choice.

The 2020 Jeep Compass is reasonably efficient, but more modern engines in competitor vehicles fare better in terms of fuel economy. We give it 5 out of 10 as such.

Front-wheel-drive, manual-transmission Compass models fare best in the efficiency department, managing 23 mpg city, 32 highway, 26 combined. Four-wheel-drive versions with the manual manage 22/31/25 mpg, which is the same as front-wheel-drive versions with the 6-speed automatic equipped. Four-wheel-drive, 9-speed auto Compasses fare the worst of all at 22/30/25 mpg.

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Styling 7
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