Price, content, fuel economy and style: which compact crossover has it all?
Eighth Place: Jeep Compass 4x4 Limited
This is the oldest and smallest vehicle in this comparison. With a new six-speed automatic replacing the much hated CVT, and the baby Grand Cherokee front end looks, we hoped to be surprised.
While the six-speed improves the driving experience, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) hold it back. In fact, it was ranked worst in the test and ride comfort tied for last with the bucking bronco Toyota RAV4.
Abundant hard plastics, a dated-looking gauge cluster and poor-quality stereo system make things worse. At least the seat upholstery is nice. Covered in rich-looking caramel leather, they’re both comfortable and attractive.
SMALL BUT NOT EFFICIENT
Observed fuel economy was the worst of the naturally aspirated four cylinder vehicles, achieving a mere 24 MPG average. This wouldn’t be too bad if the engine was throwing out obscene amounts of power, but with only 172 ponies and a slow reacting transmission, the Compass never felt swift.
The Limited 4X4 is priced competitively for this shootout at $31,770. However, features like a rear view camera, telescopic steering wheel and full power driver’s seat are absent. Rear seat comfort isn’t great either. The back seats are cramped and there isn’t a center armrest.
It’s the same story with cargo capacity. Not only does the Compass have the shallowest and narrowest cargo hold, but it also has a very high load floor height; a side-effect of enabling the Compass to achieve moderate levels of off-roading ability.
Safe to say, this little crossover can no longer compete with newer, bigger offerings in this class. But, Jeep has an all new compact crossover on the horizon; the Cherokee. Do we smell a rematch?
- PRICE AS TESTED: $31,770
- ENGINE: 2.4L four-cylinder, 172 hp, 165 lb-ft
- TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
- OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 24.0 MPG
- CARGO CAPACITY (behind second row): 22.7 cu-ft
GALLERY: 2014 Jeep Compass Limited 4×4
Seventh Place: Chevrolet Equinox 1LT FWD
Imagine our surprise when Chevrolet sent us a stripper. Before you get excited, a stripper is a vehicle in base form “stripped” of most upgradable options. In this case it was the Chevrolet Equinox. It was the only vehicle lacking all-wheel drive and was one of two vehicles missing a sunroof, navigation and leather seats. The upside is that the Equinox comes in with cheapest as-tested price in our comparison at just $27,630.
Powered by the base 182 hp 2.4L four-cylinder engine, the large Equinox always felt a bit underpowered similar to the Jeep Compass and Toyota RAV4. Combined with a somewhat lethargic six-speed automatic, and the four-cylinder Equinox yearns for the 301 hp V6 upgrade. That said, the front-wheel drive Chevy proved to be efficient and achieved the third-best fuel economy rating: 26.1 MPG.
It offers a comfortable ride, but sacrifices handling to do so and the artificial steering feel was the second worst behind the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. The engine is noisy under hard acceleration, but otherwise NVH is minimal.
As one of the older designs here, the Equinox cabin is beginning to show its age. Out-of-date, cheap plastics dominate the interior. At least it’s a very ergonomic space. A ledge covering the touchscreen is also a nice touch.
The cloth front seats are comfortable and the driver position totally acceptable. Poor rear three-quarter visibility is this vehicle’s biggest flaw. Large pillars block your view; a negative trait shares with far too many vehicles in this segment.
See Also: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD Review
On paper, the rear cargo area offers a spacious 31.4 cu-ft despite its great length, intruding rear wheel wells make the space much less useful.
The exterior of the Equinox is boring and bland, but at least it is not offensive like the Outlander or, to a lesser extent the CR-V. And this may best sum up the Equinox as a whole. It is a bland, dated design that can get the job done and won’t offend. You can do better. Much better.
- PRICE AS TESTED: $27,630
- ENGINE: 2.4L four-cylinder, 182 hp, 172 lb-ft
- TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
- OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 26.1 MPG
- CARGO CAPACITY (behind second row): 31.4 cu-ft
GALLERY: 2013 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT FWD