Jeep Compass: Which Should You Buy, 2020 or 2021?

Most significant changes: New 80th Anniversary Edition; no High Altitude model for 2021; advanced safety features now standard on Limited and Trailhawk; no more six-speed manual transmission on lower trims

Price change: $1,635 increase for Sport trims; $45 increase for Latitude front-wheel drive trims and $1,545 for Latitude 4×4 trims; $685 increase for Limited models; $965 increase for Trailhawk models; the destination fee is unchanged

On sale: Now

Which should you buy, 2020 or 2021? While the price increases likely correspond to  formerly optional packages becoming standard, the additional safety features for 2021 make it the better pick. However, the Compass is often heavily discounted and it might be possible to get a similarly equipped model-year 2020 Compass for much less than a model-year 2021. Of course, if you’re looking for the 80th Anniversary version, you’ll have to get a 2021. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a manual-equipped Compass, you’ll have to find a 2020.

Related: Is the 2020 Jeep Compass a Good Car? 5 Pros and 4 Cons

Jeep’s Compass compact SUV enters the 2021 model year with minimal changes. Like the rest of Jeep’s lineup, the Compass also gets an 80th Anniversary special edition trim that adds special 19-inch wheels and specific interior and exterior accents as well as badges; an 8.4-inch touchscreen is also standard. The base Sport and Latitude models get a 7-inch screen, while the Limited and Trailhawk trims also use the 8.4-inch display. All come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

For 2021, standard safety features have been added to the upper Limited and Trailhawk trims, including forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, rain-sensing wipers and automatic high beams. The Trailhawk also adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror and security alarm as standard equipment.

Engine, Transmission and Gas Mileage

Regardless of trim, the Compass is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine producing 180 horsepower. Buyers can choose either front- or four-wheel drive, with FWD models using a six-speed automatic transmission and 4×4 models getting a nine-speed auto. FWD models are rated at 22/31/25 mpg city/highway/combined, while 4×4 models are rated at 22/30/25 mpg.

Pricing and Release Date

The 2021 Compass is on sale now. With the addition of more standard features and the move to standard automatic transmissions across the lineup, prices increase considerably for many Compass trim levels. All models except the Trailhawk come standard with FWD, and it costs $1,500 extra for 4×4. All prices below also include a $1,495 destination fee, unchanged from 2020.

  • 2021 Compass Sport FWD: $25,410
  • 2021 Compass Latitude FWD: $27,410
  • 2021 Compass 80th Anniversary Edition FWD: $29,710
  • 2021 Compass Limited FWD: $30,810
  • 2021 Compass Trailhawk 4×4: $32,310

Which Should You Buy?

As mentioned above, you have no choice but the 2021 model if you want the new 80th Anniversary Edition, and if you want a manual transmission you’ll have to buy the 2020. While the added standard safety features in the upper trims are worth the corresponding price increases for the 2021, it may be possible to find a similarly equipped 2020 model for less. If the equipment matches and the price is right, a 2020 version may be the better choice.

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