Small crossovers are among the most popular vehicles in the U.S. today, so it’s no shock famed SUV builder Jeep has two options: the 2019 Jeep Cherokee and the 2019 Jeep Compass. Both crossovers offer small, easy-to-handle platforms compared to larger SUVs and more sedan-like handling, but which suits your needs better? Continue reading to find out.
The delicate combination of interior roominess and comfort with ample cargo space is the name of the game for the crossover segment. The Jeep Cherokee does a great job on the passenger side with up to 41.1 inches of front legroom and up to 40.3 inches of rear legroom with the back seat slid to its rearward-most position. With these rear seats all the way back, though, cargo room is just 24.6 cubic feet. Sliding the rear seats forward expands this area to 29.1 cubes and lowering the rear seats further expands it to 54.7 cubes.
The 2019 Jeep Compass is the smaller of the two crossovers, so it’s no surprise its rear seats offer less legroom at 38.3 inches. These rear seats also have less padding than in the Cherokee, taking away some of their comfort. Up front, though, the Compass’ 41.8 inches of legroom give it a slight advantage over the Cherokee.
In its cargo area, the Compass can haul up to 27.2 cubic feet with the rear seats upright, which is 1.9 cubes shy of the Cherokee with the rear seats pushed forward and 2.6 cubes more than the Cherokee with its rear seats all the way back. With its rear seats folded, the smaller Compass crushes the Cherokee with 59.8 cubes of space versus 54.7 cubes.
Under its hood, the 2019 Jeep Compass boasts a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that cranks out 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. This power routes through a standard six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission on its way to the front wheels or all four wheels. There is also a nine-speed automatic transmission available with all-wheel drive on the Sport and Latitude models and comes standard on the Trailhawk and Limited models.
The 2019 Jeep Cherokee also boasts a standard 24-liter engine, but its output it 180 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. Moving on, there is an optional 3.2-liter V-6 engine with 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque. The range-topping engine is the new-for-2019 turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. All three engine pair with a standard nine-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is optional.
Off-road trekking is a focus for both small crossovers with their optional Trailhawk models. The Cherokee Trailhawk boasts 8.7 inches of ground clearance, taller tires, skid plates, tow hooks, and Selec-Speed which regulates downhill speeds. The Compass’ Trailhawk model has similar upgrades, but its max ride height is 0.3 inches lower.
Neither of these crossovers is particularly fuel efficient. The 2019 Cherokee with the base engine gets up to 22 mpg city, 31 highway, and 25 combined. With the V-6 engine, the top fuel economy is just 20 mpg city, 29 highway, and 23 combined. The range-topping 2.0-liter offers V-6 power and four-cylinder fuel economy at up to 23 mpg city, 31 highway, and 26 combined.
The 2019 Jeep Compass gets up to 23 mpg city, 32 highway, and 26 combined with the manual transmission and up to 22 mpg city, 31 highway, and 25 combined with the automatic.
As the larger and pricier of these crossovers, the 2019 Jeep Cherokee is the better-equipped model. Its standard features include LED headlights, 17-inch steel wheels, a 3.5-inch multi-information display, eight cargo-area tie-downs, a 7-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and more.
The Compass shares many of the Cherokee’s standard features, making this $21,095 crossover a good value, but it lacks the standard LED headlights, 17-inch wheels, and a few other bits. It does, however, get one over on the Cherokee with standard dual-zone automatic climate control.
When hauling your family around, safety is key. The 2019 Jeep Cherokee and Compass deliver with “Good” scores in all the IIHS crash tests, but both models fall short with their lack of standard automatic emergency braking. The Cherokee offers this important safety feature as an option on Limited, Overland, and Trailhawk models only. These are also at-cost option on Compass Latitude and higher trims.
Which is Best for You?
These two crossovers are very similar, but there are slight differences that help each one target specific buyers. Those looking for a smaller, easier-to-handle footprint will appreciate the 2019 Compass’ 10-inch-shorter body.
Buyers in need of maximum rear-seat legroom will prefer the over 40 inches the Cherokee’s sliding rear seats offer. The Cherokee Trailhawk’s higher ride height and beefier engine options also play into the hands of off-road enthusiasts.