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A silver 2020 Jeep Compass is parked on sand in front of grass after winning the 2020 Jeep Compass vs 2020 Ford Escape comparison.

SUV Showdown: 2020 Jeep Compass vs 2020 Ford Escape

There is a stunning array of compact SUVs on the market today, each with their own unique features that make them worthy of consideration. For many looking at cars in this segment, though, it isn’t the same old specs and metrics that are the most important, but the intangible benefits like fun and excitement that rise to the top. That is what has made the 2020 Jeep Compass such a successful competitor in the compact SUV game. With its off-roading capabilities, exhilarating handling and optional manual transmission, and affordable price, the Compass has dazzled drivers all over the country. But how does it compare to the competition? Another very popular compact SUV is the 2020 Ford Escape. While Ford’s offering has been well received by many, in some cases it seems as though it is just another ho-hum crossover. To get to the bottom of which of these two quality SUVs is the better buy, here is the 2020 Jeep Compass vs 2020 Ford Escape.

Off-Road Capabilities

When it comes to the thrill of taking your compact SUV or crossover off the beaten path (or any other path for that matter), there is simply nothing like a Jeep. The popular brand owns the off-road experience, and there isn’t really any competition.

It should be noted that Jeep doesn’t grant the Trail-Rated Badge willy-nilly either. Each and every Jeep Compass Trailhawk (the trim that is trail-rated) is able to perform well on a variety of terrains. In order to be deemed worthy of the trail-rated badge, the Trailhawk has been put through a rigorous five-point test that ensures it will get the job done no matter where you take it.

The first of the five tests is traction. With Jeep’s 4X4 Selec-Terrain Traction Management System, you can choose the traction setting that fits the terrain. There are modes for mud, snow, sand, and rock. On each and every surface, the Compass Trailhawk is a beast and attacks with fury.

A white and black 2020 Jeep Compass is off-roading on a mountain trail with more mountains in the distance.

Water Fording is the next part of the trail-rated test, and the Compass passes it with ease. Because of its high air intakes and specially engineered water sealing on the underbody, the Compass Trailhawk can handle itself over water with no problem.

World-class maneuverability is the third reason the Trailhawk is perfect for driving on any terrain. With its Hill Descent Control technology, you can maneuver rocky terrain without a hitch.

The fourth aspect of the Trailhawk that makes it trail-rated is articulation. This feature refers to how far a vehicle’s suspension permits the wheels to move and contributes to its overall traction. As you would expect, the Compass Trailhawk performs spectacularly in this category too.

Finally, with exceptional ground clearance, the Compass Trailhawk can go where other SUVs cannot.

One such SUV is the Ford Escape. While the 2020 Escape might work for getting groceries or driving to work, it doesn’t compare to the Compass’ ability to handle off-roading.

Transmission Options

Another factor that adds to the Compass’ fun factor is its three exciting transmission options. Paired with a peppy 2.4L I-4 engine that is capable of generating 180 horsepower and either a 6-speed automatic, 9-speed automatic, or 6-speed manual transmission.

Obviously, the manual transmission is the most fun to drive, and it comes standard on the Jeep Compass Sport, which is the base trim, and the Latitude, which is one level up from the Sport. The feeling of being in total control of shifting contributes to the reality that the Jeep is for drivers who crave adventure.

On the other hand, the 2020 Ford Escape has a curious 1.5L 3-cylinder engine. While the result is nearly identical in terms of power at 181 horsepower, the choice to go with a 3-cylinder has caused many to scratch their heads and ask why.

While the Escape does have several other engine options, it has little choice when it comes to the transmission and offers an 8-speed automatic transmission. Not surprisingly, this transmission is as vanilla as the rest of the Escape.

Affordable Price

The unexpected thing about the 2020 Jeep Compass vs the 2020 Ford Escape is that it comes with a lower price on each and every trim.

The Compass has seven trims ranging from the Sport up to the High Altitude. The Compass Sport has a ton of great standard features, including the aforementioned manual transmission and zippy engine, and is available for $22,280 if you go with front-wheel drive and $23,780 if you prefer a 4X4.

The next step up is the Latitude, which starts at $25,870 and has a number of nice upgrades, including automatic headlamps and a cargo compartment light that comes in handy when loading and unloading the Compass. The Latitude also has a towing capacity of 2,000 lbs, which means you can bring your fishing boat with you if you want.

The Sun and Wheel trim has the same great features as the Latitude but includes a full power sunroof that makes it very bright. A Compass Sun and Wheel starts at $26,765.

The Altitude has a host of available safety features that make it a very safe sport utility vehicle, including Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, Lane Departure Warning Plus, and more. The starting price for the Altitude is $27,290.

Finally, the Compass Limited starts at $28,875, the Trailhawk at $29,850, and the High Altitude at $31,145. Each and every Compass trim offers exceptional value, fun, and excitement.

A grey 2020 Ford Escape is driving on a winding road through a mountainous area.

The 2020 Ford Escape has nine trims and a much wider price range. The cost for an Escape also starts out considerably higher than for a Compass.

The base model Escape is the S, which starts out at $24,885, more than $2,500 higher than the base model Compass.

A step up from the S is the SE, which has an initial price tag of $27,105, and though it is almost $3,000 more than the S and $1,500 more than the Compass Latitude, only has minimal upgrades.

The prices are higher all the way up through the final Escape trim, which is the Titanium Hybrid Plug-In starting at $38,835, more than $7,500 more than the highest Compass trim. While the Escape does have some nice features and gets solid gas mileage, it doesn’t seem like that is enough to warrant such a hefty price tag.


With its superior off-roading capabilities, exciting transmission options, and much more affordable price, the 2020 Jeep Compass edges out the 2020 Ford Escape. The Compass simply offers a driving experience that is unparalleled in the compact SUV segment, whereas the Escape is more of the same.

Each and every Compass trim is competitively priced and comes with an array of great safety features and advanced technologies. Its capabilities are designed for the adventurous and will not disappoint. If you are interested in being able to take your vehicle anywhere and don’t want to be limited by your SUV, then the Compass is for you. The Trailhawk trim, in particular, is a compelling buy and worth every penny.

The fact that you can have unbeatable traction, the ability to ford water with confidence, exceptional maneuverability, and articulation and ground clearance second to none, all combined with a manual transmission that is super-fun and a price better than the competition, is why the 2020 Jeep Compass is the compact SUV to have.

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