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Jeep Compass vs. Chevy Trailblazer

1. Introduction

Jeep Compass is a popular young brand of SUV which features a European-inspired design that sets it apart from the traditional ruggedness of the Jeep brands. The Compass is built on the same platform as the Dodge Caliber and the Jeep Patriot, many of its features are similar to those of the blood relatives but the Compass is definitely the most stylish offering of the three. The Compass uses a 172-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine featuring dual Variable Valve Timing (VVT) on the intake and exhaust; all-speed Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Brake Traction Control, an Electronically Controlled Coupling (ECC) that manages the 4x4 power. Also the fuel-efficient 4x4 system features a "4WD Lock" mode that allows the driver to get the traction to all four wheels when needed. All of its features make the Compass the most capable vehicle in its class off-road and in all-weather. Lastly, the Compass is seriously over delivering in its concern for the safety of the driver and passengers, aside from the usual frontal and side curtain airbags, and ABS, the Compass uses the Anti-Lock Brakes with rough road detection, electronic roll mitigation, electronic stability program enabling and brake assist. This car also having received a "Good" rating in both frontal offset and side impacts crash test, and on top of that is listed as the 2010 TOP SAFETY PICK from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Now there are 3 versions of the Compass: Sport, Latitude, and Limited; each of these versions created to cater the different needs and preference of the customers. This vehicle is best for anyone who is conscious of the utility a 4x4 offers and also with the sense of style and design. A comparison between the range of Chevrolet 4x4's, Jeep claims that the Compass offers more features at a better price.

1.1 Overview of Jeep Compass

The Compass is a 4-door wagon and comes in a variety of specs. But it's off-road where the Compass shines the most. It's built on the same platform as the Patriot, so both share the same off-road basics (powertrain, suspension, and structure). The Compass also sees its share of modern Jeep technologies to maximize its versatility. This includes Jeep's capable Freedom Drive 1 and Freedom Drive 2 off-road packages, including four-wheel drive configurations, 4x4 lock mode, electronic stability control with integrated roll mitigation, Hill-Start and Descent Control, 20GB hard drive with Song Grab and Uconnect. With all these options, the Compass can perform a vast array of roles from daily duties to light off-roading to towing a small camper or boat. So there is a Compass for everyone.

It is Jeep's lowest priced off-roader yet, and it has been designed to be highly capable both off-road and on. That's the Jeep Compass, and there is a lot to like about it. It has a solid feel, car-like handling, and is fun to drive. The interior is of a high standard, and it is very comfortable. The Compass has also now received a much-needed power upgrade, so it is definitely worth a look when considering a compact/mid-sized 4x4.

1.2 Overview of Chevy Trailblazer

All new Trailblazer emerges as an upscale statement for the small SUV segment, with looks and driving dynamics that easily separate it from the crowd. Chevy built upon the brand's SUV experience and wrapped it in an eye-catching package. With the return of the Trailblazer, the brand will eventually offer consumers a small, compact or midsize SUV across its entire full-size and midsize lineups. The Trailblazer has a character of its own and brings a bold personality to the segment characterized by blandness. The two-tone roof option helps to visually break up the profile even more. RS models have a sporty, street-inspired look, while the ACTIV has a more rugged appearance with a slightly higher ride height. This SUV for the first time will come to market with ACTIV, which is a trim level that provides a more rugged look and feel to the vehicle with a revised front end that helps increase the approach angle. The ACTIV also has revised shock tuning that is designed to enhance a feeling of adventure and a 1/4 inch lift in ride height for the front-wheel drive model and a 1/2 inch lift for all-wheel drive models. High Country boasts a more upscale and sophisticated presence to the vehicle. Step inside and you'll find a spacious interior that can accommodate objects up to 8.5 feet long because of a flat-folding front passenger seat and flat-folding 60/40 split second-row seats. The rear seat has two different positions to allow for either more passenger or cargo space. Dual-zone automatic climate control, ambient lighting, and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel are just a few of the additional features that help make this vehicle very inviting. The Trailblazer will also help keep passengers connected as it will come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility along with available wireless charging and up to three years of in-vehicle data for WiFi hotspot. The vehicle offers advanced safety features which are part of the Chevy Safety Assist. This includes automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, front pedestrian braking, IntelliBeam headlamps (all of which are standard), lane keep assist with lane departure warning and following distance indicator. A rear vision camera is also standard. With its off-road differences, safety, and technological advances, it is clear the Trailblazer will attract buyers with an active lifestyle looking for a vehicle that will more than keep pace with them.

2. Performance

Fuel efficiency is an area in which the Compass shows promise. The smaller engine of the Compass allows it to give a mileage of 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway for the front-wheel-drive model. The 4WD model sacrifices a little economy, giving a rate of 23/27 mpg. This is a good compromise between fuel efficiency and power from the engine. This allows the Compass to travel decent distances between fill-ups on and off-road. The Compass has a 13.6-gallon fuel tank, so with an average combined mileage of about 25 mpg, the car has a range of over 300 miles. This is good for a smaller SUV that will be used for outdoor activities on the weekend at places that are off the beaten track.

The Jeep Compass comes with an engine that delivers a sufficient amount of power for any and all road conditions. Overtaking at high speeds is limited by the acceleration rate of the car. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 172 horsepower, which is delivered to the wheels through a five-speed manual or an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). Although not known for its powerful engine, the Compass has proven to be a fairly capable off-road vehicle due to its light weight and compact size. This means that less power is required to move the car, and this lighter weight also adds to fuel efficiency.

2.1 Engine power and specifications

Compass is powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with an output of 172 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and torque of 165 lbs.-ft. at 4,400 rpm when equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. The optional continuously variable transmission II is a $1,100 option and provides the most fuel economy with a rating for 23 city and 27 highway. Lastly, for those looking for more power, Jeep also offers a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that delivers 158 horsepower and 141 lbs.-ft. of torque with an estimated fuel economy of 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Trailblazer has more power with a 6-cylinder 3.6-liter 277 horsepower engine and torque of 266 lbs.-ft and comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission. This allows a bit more power for towing and hauling but at the expense of less fuel economy coming in at 16 city and 22 highway. Unfortunately, the Trailblazer also is lacking in several systems but has no alternative engine configurations.

2.2 Fuel efficiency and mileage

Fuel economy and mileage are an important factor when deciding which SUV to buy. The Compass has a 4-cylinder engine that helps to save fuel. It gets 23 miles per gallon in the city and 27-29 miles per gallon on the highway. However, the more powerful 2.4L 4WD version will reduce its fuel efficiency to 22 MPG city and 27 MPG highway. This is still very good for an SUV. The Compass has a 13.6-gallon fuel tank and has a total fuel range of 349 to 417 miles till empty. The Trailblazer has a much bigger 6-cylinder engine which drinks more fuel. It is averaged at only 14-16 miles per gallon in the city and 20-22 miles per gallon on the highway, with a small 18-gallon fuel tank. You do the math. Expect to be making more visits to the gas station with the Trailblazer than the Compass. Although the Compass 2WD version may lack in power on acceleration up hills, the difference is compensated as a result of the money you would save in fuel. The 4WD Compass version and the Trailblazer have equal towing capacities of 1500 lbs. Overall, the fuel efficiency and mileage of the Compass is appealing to those who are conscious about fuel prices and the state of the environment.

3. Features and Technology

The Compass has various features like Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Full Speed Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking, ParkSense Rear Park Assist System, ParkView Rear Back-Up Camera, and Electronic Stability Control. The Trailblazer safety feature set is very similar to that of the Compass with Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, and IntelliBeam Headlamps. Both vehicles have competitive safety and driver assistance features, making the customer feel secure while driving.

Both the 2021 Jeep Compass and 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer received 4 stars out of a possible 5 stars overall ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Compass scores good ratings in all the crash test scenarios, be it frontal crash, side crash, or rollover crash. In the front driver-side crash, it scored a 4-star rating, and in the passenger-side frontal crash and side crash, it scored a complete 5-star rating. Trailblazer got an identical 4-star rating in the frontal and rollover crash tests, but it scored a 5-star rating in the side crash test. The safety rating is a plus point for both vehicles. They come equipped with various safety and driver assistance features.

Trailblazer comes with the Chevrolet MYLINK Infotainment system. The system can be operated by the touchscreen or with the conventional button system. Its user interface is quite simple, and the menu layouts are very nicely categorized. The graphics are pretty decent, and the system comes with the Onstar subscription. This can be used for vehicle tracking, navigation, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Chevrolet provides a 3-month or 3GB Wi-Fi data trial for the Onstar service. Although the Compass system is more feature-rich, the Trailblazer system serves the needs of the customer. Both Compass and Trailblazer have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as a standard option. Trailblazer doesn't provide the premium audio sound system.

Jeep Compass comes with the 7-inch digital instrumental cluster and the 8.4-inch Uconnect System for the infotainment part. The user interface of the infotainment system is simply one of the best in the segment. The menu layout is logical and easy to navigate, the graphics are crisp, and the system is quick to respond upon startup. Uconnect comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These smartphone integration features are standard on the Limited and Trailhawk models and optional on the Latitude. Jeep also provides an option for the Beats premium audio system in the Limited model. The sound quality is pretty decent compared to the segment standards.

3.1 Interior and exterior features

As for the interiors, both cars offer a six-way adjustable driver's seat, split-folding rear seats, and a pass-through rear seat. The Trailblazer also has an optional eight-way power adjustable seat for the driver and a center armrest with storage for the rear seat. The Compass wins in the category of standard interior features, which include map lights, an external temperature display, and a tachometer. The largest difference between the two vehicles is that the Compass comes with standard air conditioning, and the Trailblazer does not! This is because the Compass is considered the lower-mid level of the Jeep line, whereas the Trailblazer is in the medium level of trim for Chevy vehicles. Both cars have a fairly comparable interior space, with the Compass having roughly an inch more passenger room in the front and back, and an equal amount of cargo space to the Trailblazer.

The two cars have quite a number of exterior features in common, such as an optional power sunroof, privacy glass, variable speed intermittent wipers, and a rear window defogger. The Jeep, however, comes with an optional rear window wiper and a roof rack is standard, whereas on the Chevy it is an option. The Trailblazer wins in the category of towing by far, with a standard 2-inch receiver and the ability to pull up to 1500 pounds more than the Compass. The largest difference comes when looking at the 4x4 features. The Trailblazer's 4x4 offers an automatic mode, similar to the AWD on any car. Jeep's 4x4 is still primarily a low-range system for off-roading, and the Compass comes with a button to lock the four-wheel drive. Neither is necessarily better than the other, but it would definitely make a difference for someone who is planning on doing a lot of off-road driving.

3.2 Infotainment and connectivity options

Both of these SUVs come with good infotainment systems, but the Trailblazer has the option of a larger 8-inch screen and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The largest screen in the Compass is 8.4 inches, and while it also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you will need to use a USB cable to connect your device to the car. Jeep offers a 7-inch color display between the gauges that provides key information on the car, such as speed and active safety feature status. This screen can be upgraded to a 10.25-inch display that is digital and configurable, while the Trailblazer has a 4.2-inch color display between the gauges that will provide information manually input by the driver and not much more. Both companies offer similar trial periods of SiriusXM satellite radio and both have the option of a premium sound system. The Jeep offers a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and the ability to connect two Bluetooth devices at once, while the Trailblazer does not have the hotspot and can only connect one Bluetooth device, not two at a time. With a UConnect system on the Compass, the voice control system is more convenient and it is easier to learn and use compared to the Chevy Infotainment 3 System. The infotainment differences are marginal, but the connectivity options tip in favor of the Compass. The Trailblazer does not offer a power outlet or a 120V power outlet, and only has 4 USB ports. The Compass offers at least 2 12V outlets, one located in the front and one in the rear, and also has the option of a 115V household power outlet. The Jeep has 6 USB ports, being able to charge or connect devices for everyone in the car. This allows for much better connectivity for devices in the Compass compared to the Trailblazer.

3.3 Safety and driver-assistance features

Both vehicles also include available safety and driver-assist features, such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Advanced Brake Assist, Auto High-Beam Headlamp Control, Blind-Spot and Cross-Path Detection, Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus, Lane Departure Warning Plus, ParkSense Rear Park Assist, ParkView Rear Back Up Camera, and Rain-Sensitive Wipers. All these features are optional in the Chevy Trailblazer as part of the Driver Confidence package and require an additional package or higher trim level to be purchased. This can make vehicle pricing for the Chevy Trailblazer much more expensive compared to the Jeep Compass. A difference in safety features is a matter of preference for potential buyers. Some may want a simpler vehicle without all the advanced safety features that are more cost-effective, or the latest and greatest safety technology possible. Regardless, with the right build of either vehicle, the safety rating will be equal because the IIHS and NHTSA base their crash test ratings on equipped safety features.

4. Pricing and Value

Jeep Compass base price starts at $20,995 for the Sport model and goes up to $25,695 for the Limited. Trailblazer's base price of $19,995 for the LS and goes up to $27,195 for the LTZ. It is clear to see that Trailblazer has a price advantage going off base model prices. The extra little bonuses for Compass such as a bigger engine, 17-inch wheels compared to Trailblazer's 16-inch wheels, and stability control comes at a higher price and must be considered when comparing options. At the higher end of model pricing, Compass only offers a larger engine and sunroof for more money. Trailblazer offers the latest styling, but its most valuable upgrade to the LTZ model is an all-wheel drive option. Both vehicles have many optional packages and upgrades for customers to choose from. Compass offers three optional packages: Popular Equipment Package (air filtration, power driver seat, stain-resistant cloth), Premium Sound Package (6-disc changer, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Sirius radio), and the Sun and Sound package (sunroof, Sirius satellite radio, and speakers that flip down from the open tailgate). As previously stated, Trailblazer offers all-wheel drive as an option for all models. This seems to be the best option for those purchasing the LS model. With a price difference of only $1,600, all-wheel drive Trailblazer is a better overall value for features and capability. For LT models, the best option is one of the two LTZ models with all-wheel drive. This will offer the best bang for the buck that Trailblazer offers. For only $600 more than the Jeep Compass Limited 2wd model, you get a Trailblazer with a V6 engine and all the new features, plus some that Compass offers.

4.1 Base model pricing

The most expensive Compass is the limited edition, which starts at $25,698. Other than the base model, the limited edition is the only other version of the Compass that is available with trail rated off-road equipment. All versions of the Compass are still built on unibody construction and as previously stated, these versions are intended only for light off-road driving compared to my generation of the Cherokee and Wrangler. The limited edition is the best handling and most comfortable Compass. A fully loaded R/T with the vehicle prep package for $26,295 is slightly more expensive than a limited edition, but not as good off-road.

Opening price for the Compass is very attractive, but as always the base model is quite basic and not as well-equipped as more expensive versions of the same vehicle. There are six total trim levels and a variety of different package options available for the Compass. Pricing increases steadily, leading all the way to the most expensive and most luxurious limited edition. At this point, most of the packages and options are aimed at increasing on-road performance and handling, not off-road capability. The most basic trail rated Compass with skid plates and FD1 four-wheel drive starts at $20,198. This version would be adequate for light off-road driving or rural road conditions, but is not as capable as the more expensive versions with more advanced 4x4 systems.

Optional packages and upgrades


The base model Jeep Compass is an amazing value with prices starting at $15,168. Base model pricing for the TrailBlazer was not available, but since it is the replacement for the Tracker, I would assume that pricing will be similar. Because the Compass is designed to compete in the entry-level SUV/4x4 market, the base model is relatively basic, but the price is very good for a vehicle that boasts Trail Rated capability when properly equipped. Since the Tracker was long overdue for a complete overhaul, I would expect that the TrailBlazer base model will be more expensive than the Compass.

4.2 Optional packages and upgrades

With the Compass, the options are very limited. To get any kind of upgrade, one must purchase the higher model. One bonus for the Compass is its availability in 4x2 and 4x4 in each model. The Sport 4x2 comes with a basic package upgrade where you can add air conditioning and a few power features. The Sport 4x4 adds power windows and door locks, keyless entry, and cruise control, as well as an all-weather capability group which includes 17-inch all-terrain tires, a daytime running light system, an engine block heater, and all-season floor mats. The next level up is the Latitude. The only available upgrade for this model is a sun and sound package. This adds a power sunroof, an upgraded sound system, and Sirius satellite radio with a free year subscription. High Altitude is the next available model that is also available for 4x2 or 4x4 capabilities. This model comes with a security and convenience package which includes remote start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a security alarm, and a voice command with Bluetooth. Finally, the most equipped model is the Limited Edition. This model has a very high-value package. It comes with an upgraded interior with leather seats, a 4-way power driver's seat, a premium sound system with a subwoofer, Sirius satellite radio with a free year, automatic temperature control, a 7-inch touchscreen display with GPS navigation, and a single disc remote CD player. This model Compass also has the option to add a power sunroof. The only other available addition for any model Compass is the Freedom Drive 2 off-road package that can replace the current 4x4 system. This would only be used for those using the Compass for off-road purposes.

4.3 Resale value and reliability

Reliability has always been something that Jeep has struggled with, and they do not feel the Compass should be an exception to the rule. The value of the Compass should be quite high, but the projected reliability compared to other Jeeps has damaged it somewhat. Because many others are simply not cooling to the new model, it is estimated that the Compass may depreciate quite rapidly while demand falls. This could save someone in the market for a new car a great deal of money, but if they take advantage of the low price they may be buying someone else's mistake. This is quite the opposite of the Trailblazer, which is expected to hold average value over time due to Chevrolet's reputation. With the pricing reluctance in the options, it may be hard to get a good deal on this car without paying the full price for a high model trim, even used.

The Chevrolet has a strange stance on the options and how they affect the residual value of the car. They want to leave the base model as low as possible, and have everything else built around it. Because of this outlook, it actually costs more to build a package with the base model than it does to simply buy the model the package is based on. Due to this, if someone were to buy a base model and decide to upgrade, it would actually cost more than simply buying the equivalent with the higher model, because they would be paying for the sum of the lower model and the package.