2021 Jeep Compass

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
October 27, 2020

Buying tip

Unless you want to scrape up a Trailhawk off-road, stick with the reasonably priced Latitude and opt-in to the advanced-safety package.

features & specs

80th Anniversary 4x4
80th Anniversary FWD
Altitude 4x4
22 city / 30 hwy
22 city / 31 hwy
22 city / 30 hwy

The 2021 Jeep Compass skimps on safety and seat comfort, but delivers crossover utility in a compact footprint.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Jeep Compass? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Jeep Compass is a five-seat crossover SUV that’s smaller than the Renegade and shares some of its running gear, but not quite as big as a Cherokee. Its rivals include cars like the Subaru Crosstrek, Hyundai Tucson, and Kia Seltos.

Is the 2021 Jeep Compass a good car?

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We think it’s average in most versions—Sport, Latitude, Altitude, Limited—and distinctive mostly in its Trailhawk off-road edition. It looks tidy and has good storage space, but safety scores are low and performance is just average. We give it a middle-of-the-road 5.0 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new on the 2021 Jeep Compass?

Trailhawk and Limited models now get standard blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, rear parking sensors, and active lane control. Also, a new 80th Anniversary Edition comes with 19-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a power driver seat, remote start, and a 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation.

The Compass has a look that evokes that of the bigger Cherokee, scaled down to a smaller economy-car size. It’s attractive, with glints of chrome on higher-end versions and off-road cues on the Trailhawk edition. The businesslike interior wears black plastic and synthetic leather with a little relief from its generic look in the form of red stitching and a central touchscreen.

Jeep fits all Compass crossovers with a 180-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-4 and teams it with a 6-speed manual (rarely seen) or 6-speed automatic on lower-end and front-drive models. It’s better than the 9-speed automatic that comes with all-wheel drive and Limited and Trailhawk versions, since that shifter stays busy figuring out which gear it wants. Road manners are fine for a compact crossover, with good ride quality; in Trailhawk trim the Compass can acquit itself over moderate obstacles and through interesting weather conditions.

Jeep specs out a Compass interior that’s large enough for four adults, but skimps on seat comfort. Cargo space is abundant at 27.2 cubic feet, and gets better when the rear seats fold down. But federal crash-test scores have been disappointing, and the Compass doesn’t come with standard automatic emergency braking until you hit the Limited and Trailhawk trims.

How much does the 2021 Jeep Compass cost?

The base $25,390 Compass Sport doesn’t have automatic emergency braking even on its options list, but does have power windows and locks, cloth upholstery, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Options range from leather upholstery to heated front seats to an upgraded 8.4-inch touchscreen.

Where is the 2021 Jeep Compass made?

In Mexico.


2021 Jeep Compass


The Compass renders off-road style in hatchback form.

Is the Jeep Compass a good-looking car?

It’s smartly shaped, with a generic interior. We give it one extra point for a 6 here.

Jeep reserves its more authentic looks for vehicles like the Gladiator, Wrangler, and Renegade. The Compass taps Europe’s hatchbacks for some of its lines, and the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee for its thin grille and headlights. No cowboy spurs or box-truck realness here, the Compass wears the SUV equivalent of a blazer and slacks with its rounded corners and chrome-trimmed roofline. Of course, Trailhawks tap some knobby tires, fender trim, and roof rails to swerve away from the pavement-ready look; it’s more of a lane change than a true departure.

The Compass interior blends practicality and a suave but generic look, with knobs and buttons grouped around a 7.0-inch touchscreen that grows to 8.4 inches on pricey versions.

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2021 Jeep Compass


Compass performance is middling.

The Compass earns a performance rating of 5. It’s strictly average in the way it rides and handles, and especially in how it accelerates. Trailhawks distinguish themselves with above-the-grade off-road talent—but the Compass isn’t the first $32,000 vehicle that comes to mind for trail-blazing authority.

How fast is the 2021 Jeep Compass?

Not very. Jeep fits it with a 180-hp 2.4-liter inline-4 that spins and grunts to deliver 175 lb-ft of torque. It comes through a serviceable 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, a combination that’s undistinguished in both fuel economy and acceleration. A 9-speed automatic improves matters a little on Compass Limited and Trailhawk crossovers and on those with all-wheel drive, but bumbles the occasional shift.

Is the Jeep Compass 4WD?

Trailhawk and Limited Compass crossovers come with all-wheel drive; it’s available on other models too.

An independent suspension gives the Compass good composure on city streets, and it’s settled in highway driving, even on the bigger wheels and tires that come on Latitude models. It’s maneuverable and sprightly in non-Trailhawk garb, especially so on the smallest 16-inch wheels found on the Sport (which omits some safety gear—see below), but steering can feel too light.

The Trailhawk gets stiffer suspension settings and an inch of increased ride height to deliver more than expected off-road ability. With its raised, beefier springs, it’s surprisingly capable off road. It has a total of about 8.4 inches of ground clearance, and its 9-speed automatic gets a super-low first gear that can simulate a 20:1 crawl ratio. There’s no true low-range four-wheel-drive system, but the extra-low gear and a Rock traction mode help the Trailhawk pick its way across bumpy paths and down tricky declines.

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2021 Jeep Compass

Comfort & Quality

The Jeep Compass could use better seats, but storage space is fine.

The Compass does practical well, but its comfort game needs some work. We give it a 6 here for its useful storage space.

We’d start improving the Compass in front, where thin seat bolsters and padding are economy-car grade. For nearly $30,000, in many versions, we’d want more plushly upholstered chairs. Space is fine, and small-item storage is OK. 

The rear Compass bench seat offers above-average leg room of 38.3 inches to its passengers, but the crossover is narrow and the seat itself is more flat than sculpted. It’s adequate for two adults, but serves drivers better when it’s folded down to expand cargo space from its already-good 27.2 cubic feet.

Jeep fits the Compass with a decent grade of interior trim and fabrics, but skip the available leather; it’s not rich-looking enough to justify the spend-up.

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2021 Jeep Compass


The Compass has mixed crash test and no standard automatic emergency braking.

How safe is the 2021 Jeep Compass?

It’s performed poorly in crash tests, with a four-star overall NHTSA rating—and a three-star rating for rollover resistance. The IIHS says it’s “Good” in crash protection but gives it “Marginal” and “Poor” ratings for headlights—so we give the Compass a 3 for safety.

All Compass crossovers except the Sport can be fitted with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control. Those features are now standard on the Limited and Trailhawk, along with rear parking sensors and active lane control.

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2021 Jeep Compass


The Compass would be better value with more standard safety equipment.

Jeep stocks the Compass with a fair amount of standard equipment, and offers a handful of models to suit commuter to rock-crawler tastes. It leaves some safety gear on the options list for lower-priced models when it should be standard, though. We give it a bonus point for good infotainment, for a 6 here.

The Compass comes in Sport, Latitude, Altitude, 80th Anniversary, Limited, and Trailhawk trims. The base $25,390 Compass Sport offers 16-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, keyless start, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Automatic emergency braking is no longer available on the base Sport.

All-wheel drive costs $1,500 extra on all versions except on the AWD-only Trailhawk.

Which Jeep Compass should I buy?

The $27,390 Latitude is our pick. It adds 17-inch wheels, synthetic leather and cloth seats, and power side mirrors. A $1,395 adds automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control. It’s the least expensive Compass we recommend, and still costs nearly $29,000.

How much is a fully loaded Jeep Compass?

At the top of the lineup, you’ll need to choose a direction—on road or off. The Limited steers in the luxury direction, with leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, 18-inch wheels, and an 8.4-inch touchscreen. The Compass Trailhawk gains all-terrain tires, a beefed-up suspension, and a low-range gearbox for off-road driving. These versions top $31,000 and $32,000, respectively.

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2021 Jeep Compass

Fuel Economy

The Compass earns 25 mpg in all versions.

Is the Jeep Compass good on gas?

It’s reasonably efficient, though same-size rivals do better. We give the Compass a 4 here for its front-drive, automatic-equipped EPA ratings of 22 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined. All-wheel-drive Compass crossovers get pegged at 22/30/25 mpg with the 9-speed automatic.

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MSRP based on Sport FWD
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Expert Rating
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Styling 6
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety 3
Features 6
Fuel Economy 4
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