Jeep Compass vs. Ford Escape

By

Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


, Automotive Editor - September 6, 2016

It's no secret that the current Ford Escape is highly regarded by the automotive press, and consumers have shown their overwhelming approval with their pocketbooks.

The Jeep Compass is a tad cheaper, yet also seats five, carries cargo well enough, and can even go off road. So why is it routinely overlooked? Hint: It's not the fault of Jeep's marketing department.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Escape & Compass »

Giving the Compass a Fair Shake

Jeep likes to mention that the Compass is the most off-road-capable compact crossover on the market. That's absolutely true, but is it enough? The Freedom II all-wheel drive package responsible for the Compass's trail rating requires Jeep's unloved continuously variable transmission (CVT), which hampers acceleration and does nothing to bolster fuel economy. The CVT has been replaced with a conventional automatic on all other Compass models, which should tell you something about its performance.

Ride quality is best described as old-school Jeep, certainly not what most buyers are looking for today. There's an optional towing package with a 2,000-pound capacity, but don't let the name fool you. The Escape, for example, can handle up to 3,500 pounds. Cargo space is respectable, but this is the highest rating the Compass is likely to get any important category.

Why the Escape Succeeds

Along with expressive styling inside and out, the Ford boasts responsive handling and overall nimbleness that make it a very satisfying daily driver. High-quality materials are deployed throughout the cabin, and the sweeping dashboard is exceptionally attractive and functional. The Escape is the only compact crossover to offer active parking assist and a foot-activated power tailgate.

Fuel economy is quite good with any of the three available four-cylinder engines. The top choice, a 240-horsepower
2-liter turbo, eliminates the need for a thirstier V6.

Is the Escape That Much Better?

The Escape is a bright spot in the Ford lineup, a high-volume achiever. Not nearly as much engineering has gone into the Compass. It's a place-filler for dealers who want to peel off a few would-be Escape buyers with whatever incentives they can cobble together.

Our Verdict: Ford Escape

The Compass will be replaced by an all-new model next year, and we look forward to seeing how it stacks up against the Escape. For now, it wins the day by a mile.

Take a closer look at the Ford Escape >>

Take a closer look at the Jeep Compass >>

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage.