If you are shopping for a new Jeep and find the Renegade too small and the Cherokee or Grand Cherokee too big, and you don’t need a Wrangler or a Gladiator either, then you have but one option.
It’s the Compass, the American automaker’s compact SUV that goes against the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester, and looks quite good, with styling influences coming from the Grand Cherokee. With a $22,095 MSRP, it’s also competitively priced. However, go for the Limited or High Altitude, spec it with a few options and you’ll see the price climb to almost $40,000.
Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from here on for the 2019 Compass, at least according to CNET’s Roadshow review that points out quite a few downsides.
For starters, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which puts out 180 HP and 175 lb-ft (237 Nm) of torque, makes it feel very slow, and the sluggish nine-speed automatic transmission doesn’t help its cause. You could compromise and choose the 6-speed manual instead, but you’ll still have to take a second, third and perhaps fourth look at the upcoming traffic before overtaking the vehicle in front.
With an underpowered engine under the hood and 9 speeds for highway cruising, you may think that you won’t have to stop for gas that often; however, that’s not the case. The EPA has rated the Compass’ average fuel economy at 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) combined, and in the real world, you’re looking at 23 mpg (10.2 l/100 km).
Unless you go for the Trailhawk variant, which comes at just under $30,000 before destination, you won’t be able to do any serious rock-climbing either. Ultimately, though, compact SUVs spend practically all of their life on tarmac, so what you really want is good on-road performance. Sadly for Jeep, this reviewer points out that there are better choices out there if you’re shopping for a compact SUV.