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2015 Jeep Compass vs. 2015 Jeep Renegade: What's the Difference?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro May 2015

If you're looking for a new Jeep, you'll quickly find that the automaker has several options on the compact end of the SUV spectrum, including the Compass and the new Renegade. Both offer similar sizing, similar pricing and 4-cylinder engines. So what exactly makes the two SUVs different? We've rounded up all the differences to help you get a better idea of what separates the 2015 Jeep Compass from the 2015 Jeep Renegade, and to help you choose which one is right for you.

Exterior

On the outside, the Renegade and the Compass only share Jeep's unique grille design. Aside from that, you won't notice many similarities between the two crossovers: While the Renegade offers boxy, blocky styling and a tall profile, the Compass touts more of a traditional crossover look, with a steeper windshield rake and more typical compact SUV dimensions. We like the styling of both models, but given the major design differences between the two SUVs, we suspect you'll have no trouble picking a favorite after a few quick glances.

Interior

Despite their similar sizes, the interior differences between the Compass and Renegade are night and day. Yes, the two crossovers boast similar climate controls, but that's about where the similarities end. The Renegade offers dramatically improved materials in nearly every area, including the steering wheel, gear lever, air vents and switchgear. In fact, we think the Compass's interior is one of the key areas where you can see its age: While the Renegade is new for 2015, the Compass's basic design dates from 2007, and inside the crossover is where it shows the most. As for interior room, neither crossover is enormous, but there's no doubt that the Compass has a little more space, both in the back seat and in the cargo area.

Mechanicals

Both the Renegade and the Compass offer two engines. Base-level Renegade models use a 160-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which returns up to 24 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Base-level Compass models use a 158-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, which returns a slightly lower 23 mpg city/30 mpg hwy.

Both the Renegade and Compass share an optional engine: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that makes 172 hp in the Compass and 180 hp in the Renegade. Compass models equipped with this engine can reach as high as 23 mpg city/29 mpg hwy, while 2.4-liter Renegade models return up to 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.

Which is better? In 2.4-liter guise, both models feel similar, but we prefer the Renegade's more advanced 1.4-liter engine to the Compass's 2.0-liter powerplant, which seems noisy and unrefined.

Features & Technology

Largely owing to the Compass's age, and its uncertain future in Jeep's growing lineup, the Renegade boasts a huge advantage when the discussion turns to standard and optional equipment. The Renegade's biggest benefit is obvious right away: It uses the latest version of Chrysler's excellent Uconnect infotainment system, while the Compass must still make do with an outdated system that's far more complicated to use.

There are some other differences, too. The Renegade offers an optional Wi-Fi hotspot and touts dual sunroofs, which aren't available in the Compass. It also boasts some serious safety equipment upgrades, such as a blind spot monitoring system, a lane departure warning system, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning and more -- none of which are offered in the Compass. In other words, if you want the latest and greatest when it comes to technology and equipment, skip the Compass and go right for the Renegade.

Driving Experience

The Compass also shows its age on the road. While the Renegade isn't exactly luxury-car smooth, it still clearly includes a modern suspension setup with surprisingly secure handling and more refinement than you might expect from a relatively inexpensive Jeep product. This isn't the case with the Compass, which has a noisy base engine, crashy suspension, uncomfortable seats and compromised visibility. We especially dislike the Compass's available continuously variable transmissions, which introduce an extra element of roughness and cabin noise into the crossover.

The Compass isn't all bad, but it's hardly up to par compared to the Renegade and rival SUVs from other brands. It uses an outdated chassis, base engine and suspension, and it feels like a dinosaur compared to the newer Renegade, which boasts a more modern platform and an improved driving experience.

Safety

Although the Jeep Renegade is too new for government crash testing, the Compass earned a good 4-star score in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) battery of crash tests. Neither model has been tested by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

When comparing safety equipment, however, it's clear than the Renegade has an edge. One reason is because the Compass still offers rear drum brakes on many base-level models, which is an outdated and little-used design compared to the Renegade's far superior disc brakes. Otherwise, however, the Renegade's advantage comes in optional features: It boasts an available blind spot monitoring system, a rear cross-traffic alert system, a forward-collision warning system, a lane departure warning system and a lane-keep assist feature -- none of which are offered in the Compass.

Conclusions

Although the 2015 Jeep Renegade and the 2015 Jeep Compass are similar in size, price and fuel economy, the differences between the two models are night and day. The Renegade offers a more comfortable ride, more refinement, more equipment, more safety features and slightly better gas mileage, along with a newer design with better technology. Simply put, we strongly recommend the Renegade over the Compass, unless you get a truly impressive deal on the Compass, or unless you absolutely need the Compass's slightly larger interior size.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Jeep Compass vs. 2015 Jeep Renegade: What's the Difference? - Autotrader