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A used maroon 2020 Jeep Cherokee is driving next to the ocean after leaving a used SUV dealership.

Jeep: Off-Roading Power in Every Model

There are many manufacturers that are well known in the SUV market and, perhaps, the biggest household name out there is Jeep. These vehicles are known for their powerful engines, off-roading capabilities, and strong framework. Whatever you are looking for in a Jeep, there is a used option out there for you. However, deciding between all the Jeep SUVs can be tricky. The Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Compass, and Jeep Patriot are three very similar compact models that you might find at a used SUV dealership. They all share similarities but are also wildly different in details like engine size, available transmission, and overall capabilities.

Though the Jeep Patriot was discontinued in 2017, it can still stand up to the modern Jeep Compass and Jeep Cherokee and makes for a solid buy on the used market. Though all three vehicles have evolved through the years, each model has its own core traits. Some are better known for off-roading, while others excel at efficient use of space or high levels of comfort. Jeep models of every year are all made to be reliable and responsive, and this trio of compact SUVs is no exception. The Patriot, Compass, and Cherokee are also all noteworthy for providing the rugged off-road experience expected from the Jeep brand.

A used red 2020 Jeep Patriot is parked on crushed stone in front of a forest.

Under the Hood

The Jeep Patriot has two engine options and three transmission options for buyers to choose from. The engines include a 2.0-liter with 158 horsepower and a 2.4-liter with 172 horsepower, both with four cylinders. A five-speed manual transmission, a six-speed automatic, and a continuously variable transmission are all available for the Patriot. The base engine has an estimated 23 miles per gallon in the city and 30 miles per gallon on the highway with the manual transmission. The Patriot offers a Freedom Drive package, which equips the vehicle with a low-range crawl ratio, skid plates, and extra ground clearance, among other things. This package is meant to make taking the Patriot off-road easier.

The original Jeep Compass had the same engine options as the Jeep Patriot, but the current version has only one engine option. This lack of choices can mean either a lackluster performance or that the available engine is perfect for what it needs to do. The engine in the Jeep Compass over many manufacturing years remains the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 180 horsepower. The available transmissions include a six-speed manual, a six-speed automatic, and a nine-speed automatic. The Jeep Compass differs from the Jeep Patriot by having the Trailhawk trim level that is dedicated to off-roading capabilities rather than a package to be added to any trim level. While finding a used Trailhawk can take a bit more work, you will be rewarded with exceptional off-road capabilities for a compact SUV.

The current Jeep Cherokee offers three engines: a 2.4-liter, a 2.0-liter turbo, and a 3.2-liter V6. The nine-speed automatic transmission gives recent models a gas mileage of up to 31 MPG on the highway for the two four-cylinder options. The Cherokee also enjoys a 4,500-pound maximum towing capacity, which makes it a great option for anyone looking for an SUV that can handle light towin. Like the Compass, the Cherokee has a Trailhawk trim entirely dedicated to off-roading. This vehicle has firm suspension tuning, offering better control when steering around corners.

The differences in engine and capability between these models are subtle but clear. All three are equipped for off-roading, though the discontinued Patriot might be the most adaptable of the bunch. Having a package for off-roading capabilities rather than a dedicated trim level means that those accessories can be found on any Patriot. The Cherokee and Compass are only fully equipped for off-roading in their specific Trailhawk trim levels rather than across the model line. Four-cylinder engines are the most common options for these Jeeps, as are automatic transmissions.


Seating and Technology

The Jeep Patriot offers no phone integration of any kind, with Bluetooth integration and satellite radio finally offered in 2016. This lack of integration can alienate a lot of modern buyers very quickly. A 6.5-inch touch screen was not included standard but kept as an extra option on the Patriot. Seating for five is available, with a 60/40 split in the rear seat. This split is the only real adjustment available in the seating for the Patriot. The rear seating does not slide forward or back, though they do fold down completely for extra cargo space. The front seats have very few adjustment options available.

The Jeep Compass offered phone integration starting in 2017, one of the earliest of the three models being compared. Jeep Uconnect is now standard across the entire Compass line, with a USB port and aux port both available as well. A five-inch touch screen was standard for many years, but seven-inch and 8.4-inch touch screens are also available. The Compass offers seating for five and the same 60/40 rear seat split. These seats are designed to have more support in all areas and can still fold flat for cargo space.

The Jeep Cherokee made phone integration standard starting in 2019, offering a seven-inch touchscreen as well as two USB ports in the front seat. Some trim levels offer USB ports that are accessible to the back seats as well. The bench seating in the back of the Jeep Cherokee offers the same 60/40 rear split. It adds a sliding rear seat to make more space, whether for cargo or passengers. This adjustment capability makes for a more comfortable ride.

Each one of these Jeep models brings something different to the table, whether that is satellite radio, phone integration, or just small extra levels of comfort. The Jeep Patriot was discontinued before it could evolve any further, but the improvements it needed were passed to the Jeep Compass. More supportive seating is one of the smallest changes that can be made and is usually seen as a year-to-year change across any given model. These vehicles are made to have a smooth ride and low levels of road noise, with responsive handling overall.

A used silver 2020 Jeep Compass is driving through a city at sunset.

Jeep: Adaptable and Strong

Despite its being discontinued, the Jeep Patriot is a solidly built vehicle with plenty of off-roading capabilities. The lack of technology integration could be a drawback for some buyers but contributes to the lower cost of the Patriot. The Jeep Compass has better seating and better steering, with more technology integration and safety features. The Jeep Cherokee is more responsive, built with a unibody frame of high-strength steel. All three offer impressive speaker arrays with some designed to drop down from inside the cargo area, making things like tailgating more enjoyable in these vehicles.

Jeeps of every model have earned their reputation for toughness and adaptability. Every year brings new improvements, whether it is the release of a new model for that year or the discontinuation of an older model, as happened with the Patriot. These vehicles are updated every year with the same goals in mind: better gas mileage, more technology, and higher levels of both power and responsiveness. Jeep is able to meet these goals and improve their vehicles with every year that passes. Anyone interested in powerful vehicles with easy steering and plenty of driver assistance features available would do well to test drive a Jeep.