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Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Jeep Compass

1. Introduction

If we want to compare two vehicles, the first thing that comes to mind is the performance. Performance here means the maximum power and also the fuel efficiency. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has a few types of engines, but the focus is on two engines: the V6 type and the V8 type. The V6 engine has a power of up to 295 HP and torque of 260 lb-ft at 4,800 rpm. With this engine, the Jeep Grand Cherokee can reach 0-60 mph in just 7.2 seconds. While the V8 engine has a power of up to 360 HP and torque of 390 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm. This engine type can go from 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds. The V8 engine has a faster time to reach 60 mph because it uses dual exhaust to add horsepower and torque. Both of these engines are equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Unfortunately, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is not fuel efficient because it uses a lot of gasoline and the CO2 emission is very high. But it is not a big deal for those who don't care about fuel efficiency. (Stolarski, 2020)

In this project, we are going to compare two sport-utility-vehicle (SUV) models, both from the same manufacturer, Jeep. One is the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the other one is the Jeep Compass. We decided to take these two models because the price isn't too far different and the category is almost the same. Because the category is almost the same, there should be a question that arises, "What is the difference between these two models?". If you have the same question, then you may find the answer here.

2. Performance and Capability

The Grand Cherokee offers multiple 4x4 systems, five-speed and six-speed automatic transmissions, two Quadra-Trac active on-demand four-wheel-drive systems, the Quadra-Trac II and II being the best Jeep 4x4 systems to date, and the Command-Trac four-wheel-drive system. The Grand Cherokee, combined with the Selec-Terrain system, which lets consumers choose the 4-wheel-drive setting for the optimum traction, essentially customizing their 4x4 to best suit their needs, provides the best available traction capabilities for consumers in any Grand Cherokee. The Compass has the option between 4x4 and 4x2 models and uses a second-generation continuously variable transaxle, which is an offered a Freedom Drive I full-time active four-wheel-drive system or the Freedom Drive II off-road package.

The performance for the Grand Cherokee and the Compass takes on different forms. The Grand Cherokee feels more powerful due to its higher horsepower and torque ratings available with the HEMI engines. The Compass availability for a manual transmission and the CVT2 transmission is better for optimal engine power and better fuel efficiency. The Compass does offer the Freedom Drive II option, which provides increased off-road capabilities using a continuously variable transaxle with an integrated off-road crawl ratio. Both the Grand Cherokee and Compass offer the full-time, all-weather capability of Jeep's Freedom Drive I four-wheel-drive system.

2.1. Engine Power and Efficiency

Both vehicles have the new 6-speed automatic transmission available, which provides better fuel efficiency and fast smooth acceleration, and a 6-speed manual. The Cherokee has an additional 5-speed automatic option on its base model, while the Compass has a continuously variable transmission as well.

The Compass engine has a clear advantage in efficiency and everyday drivability, but the large increase in power options of the Grand Cherokee makes a difference in terms of capability. A consumer's preference here is a more determining factor of whether more engine effectiveness is worth higher cost in fuel and more wear and tear over the life of the vehicle.

The Compass, with the same type of ratio, compares the engines and has only a very slight edge on being the most fuel-efficient. This power efficiency is a benefit to the Compass, as it is intended to be a vehicle a person can use every day for commuting and driving around town. At the same time, the Cherokee's increase in power has many benefits to the vehicle. This power is much more useful for towing trailers, boats, and other medium-sized items. The diesel engine option for the Cherokee is a huge advantage with the torque, and the increase in towing capacity almost triples the best towing capacity of the Compass. The diesel engine is still quite uncommon in vehicles its size, and it provides a fuel-efficient option with much more power for something like a small SUV.

Although there is a large difference in the power of Cherokee engines and Compass engines, it is important to consider the type of vehicle and the intended use for that vehicle. When comparing the more powerful 3.7L engine on the Grand Cherokee to the 2.4-liter on the Compass, the power weighs out at 70.6 horsepower per liter on the Compass and 56.7 horsepower per liter on the Cherokee. This gives the Compass a bit more power in terms of efficiency, thus it is a better fuel-efficient option for the engine. From this statistical point, the Compass is roughly 20% more power efficient than the Cherokee.

The Jeep Compass offers a 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve dual VVT 4-cylinder engine. This engine produces 172 horsepower with 165 lb-ft of torque. A smaller 2.0-liter World Engine is available on Sport models, which is more fuel-efficient than the 2.4L engine. This engine produces 158 horsepower with 141 lb-ft of torque. Both the Sport and North models have a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds.

The SRT8 model is a high-performance version of the Cherokee, equipped with a 6.1-liter Hemi engine producing 420 horsepower. This powerful vehicle can reach a top speed of 160 mph and can accelerate from 0-60 in 4.6 seconds.

The Grand Cherokee offers a 210 horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine. The standard Grand Cherokee has a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds. Also available on the Laredo model is a more efficient 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel engine. This engine brings more torque to the vehicle at 376 lb-ft, and although it has less horsepower at 215, the torque pushes the towing capability to a much higher 7,400 pounds.

2.2. Off-Road Capability

The Outback is powered by a 3.0 liter 6-cylinder boxer engine with an automatic transmission and the Symmetrical AWD system. This system is an improvement over the Front Wheel Drive bias version, providing a simpler and cheaper alternative to the Grand Cherokee system with an emphasis on on-road handling and traction in comparison to off-road ability. So with the Grand Cherokee having the V8 engine and more specifically designed off-road system and the Outback a model slightly improved from a 2WD version, there is no doubt that the Grand Cherokee is the favorite vehicle for off-road use.

The first major point to be made in this essay with respect to the off-road capability of both the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the 2005 Subaru Outback is that the utilization of off-road technology in the Grand Cherokee is far superior to that of the Outback. This is backed up in Handbook 3 where it is stated that the Grand Cherokee is 'the leader in off-road utility'. This point is further validated with the purchase of both vehicles. The Grand Cherokee is a Laredo model with the V8 4.7 liter Power-tech engine with the Quad-Trac II 4WD system. The Quad-Trac II system is considered very simple to use (operated by a single switch) yet at the same time innovative, providing full-time active four-wheel traction management with some of the following features: • A Throttle Anticipate control that eliminates throttle-induced wheel spin. • Select-Terrain drive modes that allow the driver to choose the setting that best matches the conditions off-road or in different weather conditions. This enables the 4WD system to coordinate 12 different vehicle functions such as the brake and stability systems. • A torque split that is automatically adjusted in varying conditions between front and rear axles. • Full traction capabilities in 2WD mode which is extremely rare off-road.

3. Interior Features and Comfort

When comparing the interior features of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Jeep Compass, it becomes evident that the Grand Cherokee offers the most comfort. The Grand Cherokee is the larger of the two models and thus is able to offer more front and rear head and legroom to its passengers. The Compass is known to be a rather narrow vehicle and its more slender frame translates into less interior space. Those passengers sitting in the back seats of both vehicles will feel notably more comfortable in the Grand Cherokee than they will in the Compass due to the additional head and legroom. In addition to more passenger space in the Grand Cherokee, it also includes more cargo space. The Compass is rather limited in this respect with only 22.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 62.7 cubic feet when the back seats are folded down. This is below average for the compact SUV class and does not translate well for road trips or moving large items. On the other hand, the Grand Cherokee is well above average with 36.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 68.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. This is abundant space and will ideally suit a variety of needs. (Brown Morris, 2022)(Morris)(Ferré Gras, 2023)

3.1. Seating and Cargo Space

The Grand Cherokee, as the bigger vehicle here, of course has more cargo space. Total cargo space with the rear seats folded forward measures at a big 68.7 cubic feet. But even with the rear seats in place and up, you still have 36.3 cubic feet of cargo space. The Compass has 27.2 cubic feet in the rear. So if you're going to be doing any sort of hauling, the Grand Cherokee is the clear candidate. Both vehicles have a compact spare tire included. The second-row seats in the compact Compass give you slide and recline adjustments and a 12-way adjustable driver's seat is available. Headroom and legroom for back seat passengers is great in the Compass. The Grand Cherokee has a second seat that can be customized for either 60/40 or 40/20/40 split with the ability to recline. All available models come with premium interior features like a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a fold-flat front passenger seat, and an available rear backup camera. Step up to the Limited model of the Grand Cherokee and you get standard leather seats and a truly luxurious feature set. Both vehicles have heated seats available in the front.

3.2. Technology and Infotainment

Both the Grand Cherokee and Compass offer Uconnect, specifically the newer Uconnect 4 systems, which themselves are improved over the previous generations of Uconnect found in both vehicles over the years. The big difference arises from the screen size and features offered. Taking the example of the Cherokee Limited, it comes equipped with an 8.4-inch Uconnect 4 system which features navigation, AM/FM radio, SiriusXM, Bluetooth, and more. This can be compared to the Compass Limited, which features the same Uconnect 4 system. However, in an 8.4-inch system, it is optional to add a full-featured package, and it comes standard with a 7-inch screen, which is vastly smaller and less responsive than the 8.4-inch. For the extra features, it can add another $5000 in Canadian money, which raises the Compass into a higher price bracket, putting it head to head with cheaper Grand Cherokees and maybe not worth it for some customers. If the cheapest Compass is compared with the cheapest Grand Cherokee, the Compass only features a Uconnect 4 system with a 7-inch screen, and the 8.4-inch system is not even optional to add, which is a big contrast to the Grand Cherokee. The Cherokee arguably comes out on top in offering the better infotainment system to the consumers. (Hindam, 2020)

4. Safety and Reliability

Both vehicles are reliable, just in their own way, and are designed for their own specific market.

The Jeep Compass, on the other hand, is something more of a crossover and is notably smaller, lighter, and cheaper than the Grand Cherokee. The Compass is Jeep's most economical off-road-capable vehicle and is more car-like than the Grand Cherokee. Stephanie Brinley goes on to say that the Jeep Compass is a vehicle for, "Someone who is just looking for a smaller SUV, and perhaps who hasn't owned a Jeep in the past, and looking for Jeep qualities but in a smaller package and perhaps at a lower price point" (Raus, 2012). The Jeep Compass is a good, reliable vehicle for someone looking for a more affordable sport utility vehicle. This comes as no surprise as the Jeep Compass earned the Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety in 2012.

According to Autoweek, "One of the words that springs to mind when thinking of the Grand Cherokee is 'tough.' As befitting a traditional Jeep vehicle, it gives the aura of going anywhere and taking on whatever it meets. It is a midsize SUV. Harkening back to what Jeeps used to be before they were largely suburban family trucks, the five-passenger Grand Cherokee is rugged, whether it's busting through brush off-road or cruising along the bayou to the summer house." The ruggedness and off-road readiness of the Grand Cherokee make it a sturdy and reliable vehicle, and its five-star ratings in all crash tests help to prove that. Stephanie Brinley, an auto analyst with IHS Global Insight, says the Jeep Grand Cherokee is, "For someone who wants more of an outdoor vehicle, more of the original inspiration of sport-utility" (Raus, 2012).

... at the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Jeep Compass. These vehicles are in the same general classification, but still vary quite a bit. Some similarities between the two are that they each have four doors, can seat up to five passengers, and are both designed to fit in the same basic price range and vehicle class. However, there the similarity ends. Both vehicles have received a fair amount of awards, accolades, and critical acclaim, and each has a loyal following of satisfied drivers. Each vehicle has its positives and its negatives, depending on what one is looking for in the vehicle.

4.1. Crash Test Ratings

In 2011, both the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Jeep Compass underwent frontal, side-impact, and neck-saving rear-impact crash tests. The Grand Cherokee was rated "good" within the frontal and side impact tests, while the Compass was rated "good" for the frontal and injury measures with "marginal" ratings within the side and seat tests. This might have been an okay rating for the Cherokee, while the Compass' "marginal" rating within the side impact test is less than encouraging. Moving on to the current year, the 2012 Grand Cherokee had many test ratings for frontal, side, and rollover crashes. Within the area of frontal crashes, the Cherokee received an overall rating of 4/5 stars, while the driver and passenger head injury, male injury measures, and femur load were all rated 5/5 stars. For side impact testing, the Cherokee received an overall rating of 5/5 stars. Finally, with the dynamic side impact testing, the front and rear seat ratings were 5/5 stars, with the driver door and barrier ratings being 5/5 and 4/5 stars respectively. This all shows that the 2012 Grand Cherokee had very respectable crash test ratings, and with side impact and rollover testing still to come, it has already shown promise. (Firey et al.)(Martínez-Cruz et al.2021)(YOHNKA)(Schmitt, 2020)(Björklund et al., 2021)(Newstead et al.2021)

4.2. Advanced Safety Features

The available Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist system uses ultrasonic sensors to help the driver park the vehicle. The system automatically controls the steering wheel, while the driver operates the gear position, brake, and accelerator. The system will show and tell the driver which side to park next to and will identify an available parking space. When the gear is put into reverse and the vehicle speed is less than 7mph, the system shows "PUSH OK TO START SEARCH" and the parking space. When the space is detected and the driver has slowed the vehicle, the system shows an arrow to indicate on which side to park, and either "PARK IN THIS SIDE" or "PARK IN THAT SIDE". When the driver has selected a parking space and shifts into NEUTRAL (transaxle) or to a forward or reverse gear (manual transaxle), the system controls the steering while the driver operates the gear position, accelerator, and brake.

The LaneSense Departure Warning System with Lane Keep Assist measures the vehicle's position within lane boundaries. If the vehicle begins to drift outside of lane boundaries without the turn signal being activated, the system provides a visual warning and then followed by a torque input to the steering wheel to course-correct the vehicle back into its lane.

Adaptive cruise control (ACC) is an available advanced safety feature that automatically adjusts your vehicle's pre-set speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead. The available Forward Collision Warning with Mitigation system uses radar sensors to detect if your vehicle is approaching another vehicle at an unsafe speed. If a collision appears imminent, the system pre-fills the vehicle's brakes and transmits audible and visual warnings. If the driver still doesn't respond, the brakes are applied to slow the vehicle before impact.


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