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Jeep Compass vs. Jeep Cherokee Size

1. Overview

The Jeep Compass and Jeep Cherokee each fill a distinct size in Jeep's crossover and SUV lineup. The two are designed for different needs, with the Compass leaning more towards an urban-friendly package, while the Cherokee is more of an all-weather, all-terrain type vehicle. While there are numerous similarities between the two, this post will mainly deal with interior accommodations and overall cargo space and compare the two. The reason for this is there's quite a large price overlap between the two, and for some buyers, the decision will come down to which offers more space, or better features for the money. For the sake of simplicity, I will divide the models into Compass, which comes in Sport, Latitude, and Limited trim, and the Cherokee into the same, noting that the Trail Rated Trailhawk is an option on models equipped with Active Drive II/Select-Terrain. Size is an important factor in choosing an SUV. If you want to comfortably seat all your passengers, equipment, and traveling accessories, then you need to be sure that your vehicle has enough room to allocate everything. SIMCA (sorry, I hang out with PT Cruiser people) had a nifty slogan, "the vehicles of life". But no one wants to play sardines while they're living that vehicle of life. Both the Compass and Cherokee are currently built on the Chrysler/Fiat Compact Wide platform, of which a bigger variant is used for the Dodge Dart, which slots them as compact crossovers in Jeep's lineup. With a bigger gap in size between the pint-sized Renegade and the midsize Cherokee, it's possible that the next generation Compass could move back up to a more midsize class like the first gen, but Jeep's global ambitions and platform sharing mentality make it hard to say.

1.1. Introduction

Differentiating the size between Jeep's small SUVs can be a daunting task. Each time Jeep adds a new vehicle to their lineup, the meaning of "compact" changes. Currently, the Compass and Patriot lay claim to the compact segment. The Compass is Jeep's car-based SUV that slots above the hard to love Patriot in price and features. The Patriot still soldiers on and is one of the last of a dying breed of old school, truck framed SUVs. The Compass is intended to appeal more to the crossover crowd. Next up are the Liberty and the now departed Cherokee. The Liberty stuck around for quite a while and had its foot in two classes. It was a compact, then it grew and became more expensive, blurring lines with the Grand Cherokee. Now that the Liberty is gone, Jeep has re-introduced a new vehicle called the Cherokee. The interpretation of "medium" Jeep is a bit of an identity crisis. Even though it is smaller than the old Cherokee, it has been said that it was designed to replace the aging Liberty when the task of designing a new one became too daunting. The Cherokee definitely made some waves with its controversial front-end styling, so how it will be received by consumers in the long run is yet to be determined. At the top of the heap is the Grand Cherokee, which really isn't all that enormous, but it is priced as a premium vehicle so we'll call it large in relation to the others. The Commander shared the same platform as the old WK Grand Cherokee so they are very similar in size, but the Commander is a bit bigger and much boxier giving it truck like proportions. Alas the Commander is no more, but it was definitely the oddball of the Jeep lineup. For this article we are taking a look at the current smallest and largest Jeeps, the Compass and the Grand Cherokee. When a car company only has a two vehicle difference in size between their biggest and smallest vehicles, it really shows how much the auto industry has changed over the years. To keep things simple we will refer to the WK2 Grand Cherokee model years 2011-present and the first generation Compass model years 2007-2016. This Compass generation represents the elongated life-cycle of a model that shares a platform with a poor-selling predecessor. It is the old first-gen Compass that would be the model in question of whether or not a shopper would want to upgrade to a Cherokee.

1.2. Importance of Size in SUVs

With the added cargo space often comes an increase in interior space. This is the case with the Jeeps, as the Cherokee offers more head, shoulder, and leg room in both the front and back seating. It may be a possible disadvantage for larger occupants of the Compass. This can make the Cherokee a much more comfortable daily driver and a great choice for families in need of the added space.

One of the largest deciding factors of size is the amount of cargo space. The added size of the Cherokee allows for a massive cargo bay that is at 68.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, and 29 cubic feet with the rear seats up. The Compass is smaller at only 27.2 cubic feet with the rear seats up, and 59.8 with the rear seats folded. For using the vehicle to haul anything around or for taking longer trips where more luggage is needed, the added cargo space of the Cherokee will be a huge advantage.

When two vehicles are quite close in what they offer, such as the Compass and Cherokee, one often way to decide between them is the factor of size. SUVs are often chosen because they are larger, allowing them to hold more cargo or more people. Sometimes people get them for the added space of the interior, but often the size means the vehicles are more capable both on and off road. In the case of these Jeeps, the size difference is fairly big, so it will be a major player in the decision between the two.

2. Jeep Compass Size

Interior Space The Compass has an average amount of space for a vehicle in this class. Headroom/front leg room are excellent, but it gets a bit more cramped in the rear. The Compass has 39 inches of headroom in both front and rear seats with 41.8 inches of leg room up front, but only 38.3 inches of leg room in the rear. The Compass has lots of small item storage including a double decker glove box, small storage space above the headliner in the rear, and a very large removable/rechargeable LED light in the cargo area. This vehicle is great for holding anything, but not as great for holding people. Similarly to its predecessor, the Compass is very much a "tall car" and not quite a small SUV or crossover. The increased wheelbase of the 2nd generation Compass over the first doesn't add much more leg room but does help to improve ride quality. The lighter colors and colored trim options available for the 2nd generation help to make up for the lack of a large panoramic roof like in the previous generation.

Exterior Dimensions The Compass is a comfortable 15 feet long and 6.6 feet wide. Height varies between 5.6 and 5.9 feet. This makes the Compass a smaller SUV; it takes up much less space in your garage or parking spot than the Cherokee (which is about 10 inches longer and 8 inches wider). The Compass is closer in size to the Jeep Renegade or the Patriot; they are essentially the same vehicle. The size difference between the Compass and Patriot/previous generation of Compass is essentially negligible. These extra few inches in length and width that the current Compass has over its predecessors are not very noticeable while driving. The 2nd gen Compass still has better clearance than the 1st gen due to an increased ride height with only slight loss in approach/breakover angles.

2.1. Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase of Jeep Cherokee (B) and Compass (A) is similar in comparison. (B) has a wheelbase of 1675mm and (A) 103.8 inches. The wheelbase is the distance between the centre of the front and rear wheel. This distance is important as it may provide more comfort and better stability. The longer the wheelbase, the more likely passengers will have a smoother ride. This may mean that (B) is more comfortable than (A) for rear passengers. Overall, comfort may be quite similar between the two, although (B) should provide a marginally better ride than (A). Width and height of both vehicles are different, but the variation is quite small. This does not give a good indication of difference in vehicle size as the small variance may have little effect on interior and practical space. An approximately half a meter to 0.6 meter length increase in (B) would indicate a significantly larger vehicle (p814, IFSTA). Therefore, the fairly similar width and height of Jeep Compass and Cherokee are not indicative of their exterior sizes. Length of both vehicles is where the largest change in exterior size is noticed. (A) is 175.1 inches long. This is a fair length for a 4WD vehicle and could prove adequate for some. Conversely, (B) is quite long for a small to medium sized 4WD. This is 182.9 inches long. This is only 7.8 inches shorter than a Toyota Land Cruiser which is a large full-sized 4WD. This provides a good indication that (B) is quite a large small to medium-sized 4WD, sitting between small 4WDs like a Suzuki Grand Vitara and Honda CRV, to medium-sized ones like a Ford Explorer. Length appears to be the only exterior dimension which is indicative of the difference in size between Jeep Compass and Cherokee. Therefore, (B) is quite a large small to medium-sized 4WD, and is better suited for those who desire something larger than a standard 4WD but do not want a large 4WD. This is generally the market area where a lot of families and professionals are looking for a vehicle. Length of (A) on the other hand is indicative of a small to medium-sized 4WD. This is a vehicle that is most suitable for a small family or a young couple with no kids. This is quite a contrast between the two types of 4WDs but there are certainly people who want the features of a newer small 4WD but would prefer more around the mid-sized vehicle.

2.2. Interior Space

The Jeep Compass is a bit tighter in the passenger area than the Cherokee. We've found it difficult to fit a rear-facing infant seat in the Compass and still be comfortable in the front seat. Two adults will be fine and the rear seat is comfortable for adults. There are two sets of lower LATCH anchors in the outboard seats. The rear doors open at a surprisingly wide angle, making it easier to get in and out of the back seat. The rear seats fold flat and are split 60/40 for more cargo space. The Cherokee boasts slightly more passenger room and includes a one-inch higher driver's seat. The extra inch gives more comfort and better visibility. Entry and exit from the Cherokee is easy and the interior is worse nicely to wrangle extra gear and off-road necessities. You have to move up to a Grand Cherokee to get a vehicle that you'd consider better off-road than the Cherokee. The rear seats in the Cherokee also recline and slide fore and aft for a greater range of motion. Like the Compass, the rear seats fold flat offering extra cargo space. The cargo area is a bit wider and more functional than the Compass.

2.3. Cargo Capacity

Now, on the other hand, the Cherokee has a rear cargo volume of 24.6 cubic feet. This is only slightly more than the Compass but still more, nonetheless. With the rear seats folded down, the Cherokee's cargo volume increases to 54.9 cubic feet. Now, this is actually slightly larger than the Nissan Xterra, which is surprising. So, as far as the cargo volume goes, the Cherokee is a better choice if you are trying to decide between the two.

The Compass has a rear cargo volume of 22.7 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded down, the cargo volume increases to 53.6 cubic feet. Now, this is actually a fairly decent amount of space for a small SUV. Most small utilities have an abundance of rear passenger space but lack in the cargo volume.

The cargo capacity of a vehicle is an often overlooked factor, especially when assessing the size of a vehicle. Both of these Jeeps are classified as small SUVs, no matter what their intended use may be. It doesn't matter if you may be a young or middle-aged adult who is either interested in hitting the trails with your friends on the weekends or a family man with a wife and kids who just wants to drive to the mall. Chances are you will at some time find yourself hauling something in the back of your vehicle. The simple fact is that bigger is always better, especially when hauling stuff.

3. Jeep Cherokee Size

Cherokee is a compact SUV and considered the small sibling compared to the mid-sized Compass. Because of its larger size, Jeep Compass is considered the better choice if you are looking for more interior space. By any standards, the Compass is a spacious small SUV. Cherokee provides a bit more head and hip room in the front seats but slightly less shoulder and leg room. Both vehicles have similar rear seats on head and leg room. A key difference in interior space is the Compass's 3 inches of extra width. This is most noticeable in the rear seat where Cherokee seems narrow in comparison. Both vehicles offer fold flat rear seats for larger cargo space. Jeep Compass has a front passenger seat that also folds flat forward to make a table or extend an item from the cargo area to the instrument panel. Cherokee has available fold flat front passenger seat but it is less common to maximized interior space. The extra width and fold flat features make the Jeep Compass more versatile if you often carry around adult passengers and cargo. Moving to cargo area specifics, Compass has 26.5 cu ft of cargo space compared to the Cherokees 24.6 cu ft behind the rear seat. When the rear seats are folded flat Compass has 53.6 cu ft compared to 54.7 cu ft for the Cherokee. A notable difference is the shape of the rear cargo area. Jeep Compass has a more rounded rear door, wheel well, and interior panel shape restricting some larger items from fitting in the rear cargo area. This is something to consider if you regularly haul large items. Cherokee's 2 cu ft of extra cargo space is located in an extra storage compartment under the cargo area floor. This feature can be handy for holding small items, especially if you do not regularly fold the rear seats down to use the extra cargo space.

3.1. Exterior Dimensions

The Jeep Cherokee is significantly larger than the Jeep Compass, which is still classified as a compact SUV. While the Compass is built for maneuverability and efficiency in city driving, the greater body size of the Jeep Cherokee usually translates to superior crash test ratings and ability to protect in case of an accident. An advantage in vehicle size is something to consider, but it depends on what the buyer values in regards to driving habits and safety priorities. Size and weight can also relate to off-road ability and towing capacity, where the Jeep Cherokee tends to have an advantage in both areas. The downside of a larger vehicle, of course, is fuel efficiency and maneuverability in tight spaces, which is where the Jeep Compass, in turn, has an advantage. Also, keep in mind that the production Jeep Cherokee that was sold new in 2014 is a complete redesign of the model and has no relation to the Jeep Liberty, despite the fact that the Jeep Liberty was actually a smaller vehicle in terms of exterior dimensions.

3.2. Interior Space

When comparing interior dimensions, the lack of information on the new Compass makes it quite difficult to determine how it actually stacks up against the older Cherokee, despite both having the exact same exterior dimensions. In a comparison of first-class seating space, the Cherokee comes out on top, and we suspect that the Compass will not be able to compare. During its production run, the Cherokee's first-class headroom and legroom were among the best in its class, and it truly feels downright spacious to sit in. The dimensions on the Compass simply do not compare, and this is one of the few areas where the older Cherokee would come out on top. If the Compass is equal in exterior size to the Cherokee, the first-class seating space will be quite impressive, but we suspect that the actual interior dimensions will be less.

Tech specs can be a valuable tool in determining how a car stacks against a vehicle in a similar class. The Jeep Cherokee is classified as a compact SUV, and it weighs in at 182 inches in length and has a 106-inch wheelbase. The wheelbase and the length of the Cherokee are identical to that of the Compass, and in a side-by-side comparison, both look very similar in length, despite the Cherokee being a mid-sized SUV and the Compass being a compact. When looking at width, the Compass and the Cherokee are once again identical at 72 inches wide. This information can be somewhat deceiving, however, as the Cherokee's wheel track is significantly wider than that of the Compass, and this will be obvious in the next few paragraphs. The width and length of these two vehicles are a good start of reference in comparing the size, but the most obvious place to start when making a comparison is to look at the Cherokee's interior dimensions.

3.3. Cargo Capacity

When it comes to capability, the Cherokee has a little bit more. Cherokee's cargo capacity is on the larger size for a vehicle in this class. With the two-row Compass, you'll have 27.2 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 59.8 cubic feet with the seats folded. In comparison, Cherokee has expansive 25.8 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 54.9 cubic feet when the seats are down in the cargo area. The shape of the cargo area, along with additional space available under the cargo floor of 2014 and newer models helps make it one of the most functional cargo areas in the compact SUV class. When stacked up with the rest of the class, the numbers show that both vehicles are right around average when it comes to cargo capacity. It can be said that cargo capacity is one area where consumers don't gain much by going with the bigger and pricier Cherokee. But for those who want to travel with the most gear possible in their vehicle without going into the much larger, less fuel efficient and more expensive full-size SUV segment, either vehicle should be more than adequate.

4. Comparison

In actuality, these two vehicle models are very similar in size. Experts consider the Compass to be a compact SUV. Compact SUVs are those which are smaller than mid-sized SUVs but larger than mini SUVs. However, the difference in size isn't very significant. The Cherokee is considered to be a mid-sized SUV. The main difference in size between these two vehicles is in the length. The Cherokee is about a foot longer than the Compass. The wheelbase and width is almost exactly the same. The increased length of the Cherokee results in a slightly roomier interior for passengers and a larger cargo area. However, both vehicles are described to be very roomy for passengers and have plenty of cargo space. The larger size of the Cherokee does make it a bit heavier than the Compass. Typically, added weight in a car does reduce fuel efficiency. This translates to the Cherokee getting slightly lower gas mileage than the Compass. So in summary, the size differences between these two vehicles are mostly minimal. If you are concerned about fitting into a smaller parking spot or garage, the Compass would be more ideal. If you desire more space for passengers and cargo, the Cherokee would be the better choice.

4.1. Size Differences

These numerous size differences result in significantly more interior space in the Cherokee. Rear legroom is about the same for both models, yet rear hip room and rear headroom dimensions are more compact in the Compass. The cargo volume for the Compass accounts for 22.7 cubic feet. With the rear seats down, the Cherokee has 24.6 cubic feet of cargo volume. These small differences in rear seat room and cargo space are not huge, yet users with the need for more space would be more satisfied with the Cherokee.

Jeep Compass - the smaller compact SUV of the 2 models, has a 175-inch length and a 103.7-inch wheelbase. It would be (relatively) lighter than the Cherokee, which should give it a gas mileage benefit. Its bigger brother, Jeep's Cherokee, has a full 10 more inches of length at 182 inches. The wheelbase of the Cherokee is also 5 inches wider.

4.2. Pros and Cons of Each Model

Jeep Cherokee Cons: - Less fuel efficient. - Pricier. - Heavy with power becomes sluggish. - Smaller overall interior space and rear cargo space.

42. Jeep Cherokee Pros: - More standard power. - Jeep 4x4 systems. - Offroad capability, especially with Trail Rated Cherokees. - Fold-flat front passenger seat. - Better interior materials. - More stability and handling. - Quieter engine. - Optional V-6 Step-in height.

Jeep Compass Cons: - Poor acceleration. - Poor handling. - Noisy engine. - Subpar interior materials. - Continuously variable transmission (manual transmission which can be better in offroad situations is no longer an option).

41. Jeep Compass Pros: - Has adequate horsepower. - Hard-drive sound storage system. - Lots of interior room. - Fold down passenger seat (which is now a feature in 2011 Jeep Cherokees). - Reasonably priced.