The 2021 Jeep Compass compact SUV seats five and is powered by a 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Six- and nine-speed automatic transmissions are offered.
Front-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive is available; the four-wheel-drive system in the off-road-oriented Trailhawk trim level includes low-range gearing. Compass rivals include the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4.
Uplevel Trailhawk and Limited trims gain forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, rear park assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
There’s also a new 80th Anniversary Edition that features 19-inch wheels with a granite-crystal finish, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, remote start, an 8.4-inch touchscreen multimedia system with navigation and special badging and trims.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The four-cylinder engine that powers every Compass is lethargic, and the optional nine-speed automatic transmission is slow to execute shifts. All front-wheel models are equipped with a six-speed automatic. Buyers who choose all-wheel drive will enjoy a variety of terrain-conquering drive modes.
An automatic setting allows the car to direct torque to the wheels as it sees fit, while Snow, Sand, and Mud modes allow varying amounts of wheel slip for improved traction.
Trailhawk models add a low “crawler” gear ratio and a Rock mode, which keeps the 2021 Jeep Compass in first gear and directs torque only to the wheels that can find grip.
The Compass feels more agile than its tall, boxy profile would suggest, responding ably to inputs from the nicely weighted steering wheel. There is some lean during tight cornering, but overall the 2021 Jeep Compass feels well-controlled, solidly planted, and capable on the road.
An off-road course we braved when we first drove the 2021 Jeep Compass revealed that it can hold its own at least over moderate obstacles, and we noticed nary a stumble from the all-wheel-drive system.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Despite running in a class with several smaller vehicles—including some that are only available with front-wheel drive—the 2021 Jeep Compass is about as efficient as most competitors.
The EPA estimates the 2021 Jeep Compass will earn up to 22 mpg city and 31 highway. The last model we ran on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, returned a 29 mpg result.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The interior of the 2021 Jeep Compass is comfortable, functional, and has enough space for four adult passengers. The cabin materials are average at best, and no match for those found in class leaders such as the Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5.
The back seat of the Compass is neither the largest nor the smallest of the cars in this diverse, small-crossover class. It’s hardly a luxury sedan, either, but high seat bottoms in the back seat mean that passengers’ legs are fully supported, and even long rides can be comfortable.
Despite its boxy exterior and what at first appears to be competitive cargo volume, the 2021 Jeep Compass is not the roomiest of its set. It has enough luggage space for an airport run but long trips could be a squeeze, and in-cabin storage space is somewhat lacking.
The rear seatbacks angle slightly upward when folded, and the Compass held only 17 carry-on suitcases with the seats stowed.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Jeep’s Uconnect system is one of our favorite infotainment setups, and we’re glad to see it included as standard across the Compass lineup.
Uconnect is simple to use and responds quickly to inputs, and no matter which Compass you choose, you’ll be treated to a well-organized touchscreen-infotainment system with a USB port and an auxiliary input.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 Jeep Compass earned a four-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) didn’t name it a Top Safety Pick.
Jeep has made an impressive array of driver-assistance technology available on the Compass, but none of it is standard.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED: $28,370 (base price: $25,590)
ENGINE TYPE: SOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, port fuel injection
Displacement: 144 cu in, 2360 cc
Power: 180 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 175 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 9-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Suspension (F/R): struts/struts
Brakes (F/R): 12.0-in vented disc/10.9-in disc
Tires: Continental CrossContact LX Sport, 215/65R-16 93H M+S
Wheelbase: 103.8 in
Length: 173.0 in
Width: 73.8 in Height: 64.6 in
Passenger volume: 101 cu ft
Cargo volume: 27 cu ft
Curb weight: 3470 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 9.3 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 29.3 sec
Zero to 110 mph: 42.0 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 9.8 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 5.0 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 6.5 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 17.1 sec @ 82 mph
Top speed (drag limited): 117 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 184 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad*: 0.79 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY:
Observed: 21 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY:
Combined/city/highway: 25/22/30 mpg