Jeep Compass vs. Jeep Cherokee

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - January 9, 2018

Years ago, buyers had three Jeeps to choose from: Wrangler, Cherokee, and Grand Cherokee. But with competition in the crossover and SUV realms growing, Jeep had to grow. And grow it has. Sure, it still has the Cherokee, but it also has smaller crossovers, like the Compass.

The big question is, can a small crossover, like the recently redesigned Compass, really hold up to the likes of the Cherokee? Keep reading to find out.

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

What the Compass Gets Right

At $22,090 ($1,095 destination charge included), the Jeep Compass leaves buyers with an extra $3,040 in their bank accounts relative to the Cherokee. Buyers can sit on this extra cash or add more options to luxe up their small crossover.

While the Cherokee has received iffy marks for its polarizing appearance, the Compass’ Grand Cherokee-like looks (up front, at least) should please a much broader band of consumers. Also, buyers in larger cities with busy streets and tight parking spaces will appreciate the Compass’ smaller footprint. And despite this small footprint, the Compass has a well-balanced ride.

Though it’s such a compact model, the Compass’ Trailhawk package makes it surprisingly capable off road, with an extra inch of ground clearance, knobbier rubber, a 20-to-1 crawl mode, and more. We were also surprised to learn that the Compass has more cargo room than the Cherokee at 27.2 cubic feet with the second row up and 59.8 cubes with the rear seats folded – these best the Cherokee by 2.6 cubic feet and 4.9 cubes, respectively.

Finally, with its four-cylinder engine and smaller body, the Compass is a bit more fuel efficient than the Cherokee at up to 22 miles per gallon city, 31 highway, and 25 combined. At its best, the Cherokee gets 21 mpg city, 30 highway, and 25 combined.

What the Cherokee Gets Right

With its larger footprint comes a bit more interior room. The rear seats offer passengers 40.3 inches of leg room and 49.9 inches of hip room, which are two inches and 0.7 inches more than the Compass, respectively.

On top of its roomier rear seats, the Cherokee’s front seats are also better padded. This allows for a touch more comfort on longer trips.

With the Cherokee’s optional 271-horsepower V6 engine, it delivers far more grunt than the Compass’ 180-hp four-pot. That extra power and a more structurally sound platform allow the Cherokee to out-tow the Compass 4,500 pounds to 1,000 pounds. Of course, that 4,500 pounds is with the optional towing packages.

Gotta Tow? Get the Cherokee

The reworked Compass just has too much going for it for the Cherokee to surpass it. That said, it is not built for towing – this is where the Cherokee comes into play. With its potent V6 engine and stronger platform, it can tow up to 4,500 pounds, when properly equipped.

Verdict: Jeep Compass

Though it’s a good bit smaller than the Cherokee, the Compass is surprisingly roomy, well laid out, and has respectable off-road chops with the Trailhawk package. All this combined with a lower price make the Compass the better option for most buyers.

Take a closer look at the Jeep Compass »

Take a closer look at the Jeep Cherokee »

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

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website