2020 Jeep Compass vs 2020 Ford Escape – Costa Mesa, CA

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  • 2020 Jeep Compass

    A black 2020 Jeep Compass is angled left.

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    2020 Ford Escape

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    8.4Infotainment Screen (in)8
    YesTwo-Speed Transfer CaseNo
    19Water Fording (in)Not Recommended

    The SUV is meant to be a confident and adventurous vehicle that can handle backwoods trails as easily as city streets. Unfortunately, the reality of modern compact SUVs usually fails to live up to the glamorous advertising. While these vehicles are certainly comfortable and are reasonably capable of handling some bad weather or the occasional trip to the hardware store, mechanically, they are generally little more than large cars. However, that is not true of every modern SUV, and a comparison of the 2020 Jeep Compass vs 2020 Ford Escape will reveal that the Jeep name is not just for show.

    While the 2020 Ford Escape is the larger and more powerful vehicle on the surface, a more in-depth look will reveal the numerous advantages that make the 2020 Jeep Compass one of those rare crossover SUVs that excels in the kind of off-road adventures that these vehicles are supposedly built for. With improved ground clearance, superior four-wheel drive systems, deep water fording, and more, the 2020 Jeep Compass is ready for virtually anything. And on top of these impressive capabilities, it also has a comfortable and feature-rich design that is every bit the equal of the more expensive 2020 Ford Escape.

  • Performance

    An orange 2020 Jeep Compass is off-roading through a river after winning the 2020 Jeep Compass vs 2020 Ford Escape comparison.

    When it comes to comparing the mechanical attributes of the 2020 Jeep Compass vs the 2020 Ford Escape, the two SUVs are even more different than their exteriors may suggest. And while a cursory look at their statistics might indicate that the Escape is the more capable vehicle, a deeper examination will reveal that the opposite is true. Because while the 2020 Ford Escape does indeed have more powerful engine options than the 2020 Jeep Compass, it lacks the features and equipment needed to make that power useful anywhere other than on a well-maintained highway.

    The Escape's Engines

    The 2020 Ford Escape has two engine options. These consist of a base 1.5L turbocharged engine with 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque or a larger 2.0L turbocharged engine with 250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The base engine provides a reasonable amount of power for daily driving, while the larger engine is an exceptional option for those who spend their time on the highway. Further, both of these engines come with an eight-speed automatic transmission, making them rather efficient despite their above-average power.

    The Compass Experience

    In contrast, the 2020 Jeep Compass has only a single engine option. This is a naturally aspirated 2.4L Tigershark producing 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. While these figures are a touch lower than those of the base engine in the Escape, the vehicle itself weighs a few hundred pounds less, so actual performance is actually a touch better. Further, the 2020 Jeep Compass can be optioned with a six-speed automatic transmission, a nine-speed automatic, or a six-speed manual. Not only does the availability of a manual transmission make this SUV something a rarity in the modern market, it further improves performance by allowing you to fully wring out everything the engine has to offer.

    Bringing the Compass Further Ahead

    But the most important aspect of these two vehicles to compare are the other aspects of their drivetrains and running gear. Both of them are offered in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, but the all-wheel drive systems available in the 2020 Jeep Compass are far more capable than that of the 2020 Ford Escape. In the off-road Trailhawk trim of the Compass, you will even find a 20:1 four-wheel drive low range for handling bad weather and rough terrain. Further, the 2020 Jeep Compass can be optioned with enhanced off-road suspension and all-terrain tires, giving it an even greater advantage over the 2020 Ford Escape when dealing with dirt and mud. Altogether, the Compass is capable of off-road adventures than the average crossover SUV could never dream of attempting.

  • Design

    A white 2020 Jeep Compass is parked on a rocky river bed near Costa Mesa, CA.

    On the surface, the 2020 Ford Escape may appear to be more capable than the 2020 Jeep Compass. After all, the Ford SUV is a significantly larger vehicle that measures 181 inches in length and 66 inches in height, against 173 inches and 65 inches for the Jeep. And if you are in the market for a comfortable highway cruiser, then the 2020 Ford Escape might indeed be the better choice. However, if you are searching for a rugged and enjoyable SUV that can actually live up to all of the adventurous advertising, then the 2020 Jeep Compass is the clear winner.

    Off and On the Road

    While the Jeep Compass may not offer the full off-road capabilities of a Jeep Wrangler, it is still vastly superior to the other SUVs in its class. To begin with, the 2020 Jeep Compass is built on a dedicated 4x4 platform when most other compact SUVs are built on a car platform. The 2020 Ford Escape, for instance, shares its platform with the Ford Focus midsize sedan. And while such a choice certainly saves money, it handicaps the capabilities of these crossover SUVs when it comes to the sort of off-road adventures that this class of vehicle was originally intended for.

    Further, when exploring off of paved roads, a larger vehicle is not always the best choice. While the more compact size of the 2020 Jeep Compass does mean that it has less interior space for passengers and cargo, it also means that it is far less likely to get stuck on narrow roads then a larger SUV such as the 2020 Ford Escape. And even when sticking to the blacktop, a smaller and significantly lighter vehicle will produce a more playful and engaging driving experience.

    Same Space

    But this does not mean that the 2020 Jeep Compass is a cramped design. Indeed, it is surprisingly close to the 2020 Ford Escape in terms of interior volume, given how much smaller it is on the outside. With 60 cubic feet of cargo space, the Compass is only marginally less capable of moving gear than the Escape with its 65 cubic feet of cargo space. And when it comes to passenger comfort, the 2020 Jeep Compass sports 39.2 inches of front headroom and 38.3 inches of rear headroom, while the 2020 Ford Escape is only slightly ahead with 40.0 inches of front headroom and 40.7 inches of rear legroom. So if the Compass is insufficient for your needs, the Escape will likely be too small as well. With that in mind, along with the other design features, the Compass ends up on top of the competition in this area.

  • Features

    The black interior with red detail in a 2020 Jeep Compass is shown.

    When it comes to equipment and technology, both the 2020 Jeep Compass and 2020 Ford Escape are unusually well-equipped for their price tags. In terms of luxury features, you will find all of the standard options in both vehicles, including heated power seats, leather interiors, and dual-zone automatic climate control. However, the Compass and the Escape stand out from other vehicles in their segment for including high-end options such as a remote power liftgate and a panoramic power sunroof. But, despite its lower price tag, the 2020 Jeep Compass actually pulls ahead of the 2020 Ford Escape by offering some additional items such as heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

    Infotainment Technology

    For infotainment technology, the two SUVs are both quite modern. The 2020 Jeep Compass offers the excellent Uconnect 4 system, while the 2020 Ford Escape has the modern Synch 3 software. This means that both vehicles offer support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as extra options such as a 4G LTE wireless hotspot and SiriusXM satellite radio. However, the two systems are not identical. For instance, the Jeep Compass includes a larger 8.4-inch touch screen display, while the 2020 Ford Escape includes one additional speaker in its top sound system. But no matter which SUV you are in, you will not lack for on the go entertainment.


    But while these two SUVs may be equally comfortable, when it comes to off-road and performance features, the 2020 Jeep Compass is the clear winner. Its Trail Rated Trailhawk trim, in particular, is a simply incredible package of performance features unmatched by any other option in its segment. With 8.5 inches of ground clearance and four real metal skid plates protecting its undercarriage from damage, the Compass can challenge obstacles that the 2020 Ford Escape could never attempt. Further, the 2020 Jeep Compass Trailhawk can even drive through an astounding 19 inches of water without damage and has factory tow hooks in the unlikely event that you do manage to get it stuck. In all, the Compass' features make it a much more capable vehicle than those of the Escape.

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