2021 Jeep Compass

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2021 Jeep Compass Review: Trailing Behind The Cool Kids

by Aiden Eksteen

Jeeps cars bear a very distinct aesthetic that emphasizes their adventurous characteristics and purposed capabilities. The 2021 Jeep Compass is differentiated from its mostly-rugged SUV siblings, however, by way of a more modern and sophisticated aesthetic that better suits the urban settings it spends most of its time in. Beneath the oblong hood of the compact crossover SUV is a rather outmoded 2.4-liter 4-cylinder gas engine that's been modulated to produce a subtle 177 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. It's a feeble powertrain that bears no genuinely pleasing qualities, but the purposed Compass Trailhawk does still offer the adroit off-roading potential that Jeep and the Trail Rated badge stands for. It's certainly no Cherokee, however, and, in terms of casual driving, it lacks the refinement of its more direct competitors - the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, and the Honda CR-V. Is the Jeep Compass SUV just a cool-looking vehicle with no real substance to draw in crossover enthusiasts, or does it actually have any genuine value to offer?

Read in this review:

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2021 Jeep Compass Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 Jeep Compass?

Little has changed for the Jeep Compass SUV in terms of how the normal models look or drive, but drivetrain configurations have been rejigged with the discontinuation of the manual transmission, and new Compass limited-edition sub-trims based on the Latitude trim have been added this year, namely the 80th Anniversary Edition and Altitude trims. These have a tweaked exterior appearance and some extra equipment. The High Altitude trim is no longer offered. Finally, a Compass Freedom edition has been added based on the Sport trim and in the spirit of the Wrangler Freedom Edition, which pays tribute to the American military.

Sandstorm has been dropped as an interior color on the Sport and the only interior color available on this trim level is now black. The safety features on Trailhawk and Limited trims have been bolstered and now include adaptive cruise control (including stop and go), blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning, (including active braking), LaneSense, rear parking assist, an automatically dimming rearview mirror, and automatic wipers and headlights (with auto high beam). The Trailhawk model gets a security alarm too.

Pros and Cons

  • Bears one of the better-looking Jeep designs
  • Impressively adroit at tackling off-road trails
  • Gets a decent assortment of standard safety tech
  • Good quality and reliability rating from J.D. Power
  • Four-cylinder motor is severely underpowered
  • Nine-speed auto delivers sluggish responses
  • Below-average fuel economy figures
  • Subpar trunk cargo capacity

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2021 Jeep Compass Trims and Prices

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.4L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
2.4L Inline-4 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
2.4L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
2.4L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
80th Special Edition
2.4L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive

Compass Exterior

2021 Jeep Compass Forward View CarBuzz
2021 Jeep Compass Rear View CarBuzz
2021 Jeep Compass Frontal Aspect CarBuzz
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  • Length 173.0 in
  • Wheelbase 103.8 in
  • Height 64.6 in
  • Max Width 73.8 in
  • Front Width 60.7 in
  • Rear Width 60.3 in
  • Curb Weight 3,184.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Billet Silver Metallic Clearcoat +$245
  • Diamond Black Crystal Pearlcoat +$245
  • Granite Crystal Metallic Clearcoat +$245
  • Jazz Blue Pearlcoat +$245
  • Redline Pearlcoat +$245
  • Velvet Red Pearlcoat +$245
  • Olive Green Pearlcoat +$245
  • Spitfire Orange Clearcoat +$245
  • Laser Blue Pearlcoat +$245
  • Sting-Gray Clearcoat +$245
  • Pearl White Tri-Coat +$495
  • White Clearcoat

Compass Performance

2021 Jeep Compass Front Angle View CarBuzz
2021 Jeep Compass Aft View CarBuzz
2021 Jeep Compass Wheel CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

Unfortunately, every version of the 2021 Compass line has been fitted with the same 2.4-liter inline-4 Tigershark engine. The Compass is a compact SUV, but the 177-hp and 172 lb-ft of torque the engine emits still feels far too meager for it. The engine comes paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission if the front-wheel drivetrain is kept in, otherwise it's replaced with a 9-speed automatic transmission for the four-wheel drive system.

While the 6-speed transmission is nothing particularly special, the 9-speed is painfully lethargic. If you're looking to take advantage of the Compass' off-roading potential, however, you'll have to accept the compromise as the 9-speed is a prerequisite of the 4x4 system. Depending on the model and equipment, the Compass is rated with a 2,000-pound towing capacity.

  • Engine
    2.4L Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Automatic, 9-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    4X4, FWD

Compass Gas Mileage

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 22/31 mpg
* 2021 Jeep Compass Sport FWD

Compass Interior

2021 Jeep Compass Steering Wheel Design CarBuzz
2021 Jeep Compass Infotainment Setup CarBuzz
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Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 41.8 in
  • Front Head Room 39.2 in
  • Rear Leg Room 38.3 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.5 in

Compass Trunk and Cargo Space

2021 Jeep Compass Rear Passenger Seats CarBuzz
2021 Jeep Compass Trunk Space CarBuzz
2021 Jeep Compass Maximum Cargo Space CarBuzz

Compass Safety and Reliability


  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: Is the 2021 Jeep Compass A Good SUV?

The 2021 Jeep Compass is a difficult crossover SUV to recommend as it just feels out of place for a modern, urban-centric vehicle. Its engine is far too lackluster, with power spread out thin across the power band, while the 9-speed automatic transmission is also slow to execute shifts. Unlike the Mazda CX-5 and the Honda CR-V, the Compass feels overly firm and rigid for comfortable everyday driving, too, which you'd think is the right price to pay for a vehicle that's supposed to be proficient at off-roading, but the Compass doesn't even really stand out in that regard.

There are a lot of low-grade materials utilized within the cabin and the build quality is questionable. If there's anything good to say about the Compass, it's about its infotainment system. The Uconnect interface is one of the best in the industry; modern, user-friendly, and comprehensively installed with functionality. Both the NHTSA and the IIHS have subjected the 2021 Jeep Compass to review and accorded it with a decent enough safety rating. It also comes comprehensively outfitted with the latest and greatest driver assists and safety systems one expects from a modern car. All in all, Jeep barely got the basics right with the 5-door Compass. We'd recommend the Mazda CX-5 for any US urbanites and the Cherokee for those who want a genuine off-roader.

What Jeep Compass Model Should I Buy?

There's not much you can do about the Compass's general performance characteristics, but you can decide whether you want a better on-road or better off-road experience. FWD models are better suited to urban conditions as the 6-speed transmission is a bit more refined than the 9-speed auto, but you will have to settle for the 9-speed if you want the 4WD system for better off-roading. The price of the 2021 Jeep Compass Sport comes in at $24,495. The Sport is the model we'd recommend if you want to get the most value out of the Compass. The Olive Green paint scheme is fitting along with the 16-inch black steel wheels, which we'd keep for optimum ride comfort. Along with the Cold Weather package, which includes remote start, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats,and more, we'd also opt in the Advanced Safety package for the blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, and more.

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