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For many Americans, a compact SUV provides the perfect blend of convenience and durability, but how do you know which are the worst compact SUVs you should avoid? You might be tempted to follow the crowd, picking a bestseller or familiar brand name, but as this article will explain, that’s not always the best indicator of quality.
Read on to learn about the worst compact SUVs on the market, so you know where not to spend your hard-earned cash.
If you are looking for cheap car insurance for that new compact SUV, compare quotes with Jerry to find the lowest rate. Incredibly, the average Jerry user saves $879 a year on car insurance!
The worst compact SUV of the year
According to the independent researchers at Consumer Reports (CR), the 2021 Jeep Compass is this year’s worst compact SUV (and early reviews suggest the 2022 model isn’t much better).
The 2021 model sells anywhere from $28,695-$39,190, and has a destination charge of $1,495, making it one of the most expensive cars in the compact SUV class.
Despite Jeep’s lofty ambitions to become the greenest SUV brand in the world, the Compass offers just 23 mpg fuel economy (16 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway), which is nothing special.
In CR’s road test, the 2021 Jeep Compass scored 56/100. Testers found it to be slow, noisy, awkward to manoeuvre, and uncomfortable. It failed to score more than three out of five in any of the road test categories, including the comfort and convenience segment, where modern SUVs typically shine.
Making matters worse, the Compass scored just two out of five for predicted reliability. This is mostly a hangover from the disastrous 2018 model year Compass, which had a series of recurring engine issues, and no fewer than six major recalls.
CR explains that just 48% of 2021 Jeep Compass owners say they would buy one again. This is the worst customer satisfaction score of any compact SUV in CR’s rankings, and the second worst out of any 2021 model year car.
To summarise, the 2021 Jeep Compass is expensive, offers poor drive quality, poor reliability, and the drivers who did buy one wish that they didn’t.
It received an overall score of 39/100—the worst out of all 19 compact SUVs tested by CR.
Bad news for the 2021 Ford Escape
The next worst option is the 2021 Ford Escape. Despite poor reviews, sales of this model have been strong, demonstrating the power of advertising and a trusted brand name.
The Escape’s base MSRP range is $28,649-$43,749, making it even more expensive than the Jeep Compass.
It offers marginally better fuel economy than the Jeep, getting 26 mpg on average (17 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway). The Escape did pretty well on the road test too, receiving 73/100.
Testers found the 2021 Escape to be agile, powerful, and “solid feeling,” but they criticised it for having an annoying engine vibration, in addition to jerky and over-sensitive brakes.
The 2021 Ford Escape’s real downfall is its predicted reliability, where CR gave it one out of five—the worst possible score. Similar to the Compass, past model years of the Ford Escape have had engine troubles, and the 2021 model has an active recall too.
In better news, the Escape does have good customer satisfaction, with 70% of owners saying they would buy one again. This is much better than the Jeep Compass, and even better than the highly-rated Honda CR-V.
It’s not enough to save the Escape though, which receives an overall score of 46/100.
When it comes to the worst compact SUVs, the 2021 Jeep Compass and Ford Escape are in a league of their own. They are the only compact SUVs tested by CR to receive less than 50/100.
However, if you are looking to buy a new compact SUV, you’d also be wise to avoid the 2021 Jeep Cherokee (54/100), 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (56/100), and Ford Bronco Sport (60/100), all of which scored way below average in CR’s tests.