In Canada, the 2022 Jeep Compass starts at $29,495.
The 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross is priced from $24,890.
Small SUVs should be worried about the arrival of the Corolla Cross.
Compact SUVs have taken over from compact cars as the best-selling “regular” vehicles in the country. Although full-size pickups remain the biggest sellers and probably will for a long time to come, small SUVs are the go-to segment for most Canadian families. One of the latest additions to this class is the Toyota Corolla Cross and one of the older ones is the Jeep Compass.
As always, diversity is important for consumers. Although some 200,000+ want a small SUV, they may not all want to be seen driving the same model. Many want a vehicle that looks rugged and provides some off-road capabilities while others prefer the comfort found in subdued styling and practicality.
The latter points describe the new 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross. As the most recent entry in the small SUV segment, the Corolla Cross may be the easiest product for Toyota to sell. The Corolla name alone carries decades of dependability, convenience, and reliability. Now, it comes in SUV form.
As for the Compass, it too carries the burden of a name but in the Jeep’s case, it has to do with limitless capabilities. Though this should be an asset, like its smaller sibling the Renegade, the Compass is one of the slower selling small SUVs in the segment in the country.
This may be an odd pairing for a comparison test but sometimes details come to light that serves to confirm or undue pre-conceived notions when shopping in this vast segment.
Let’s compare the Corolla Cross and Compass:
Powertrain and Drive
As standard, the Jeep Compass is powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.4-litre 4-cylinder engine. It produces 177 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft. of torque and when mated to the available AWD system, features a 9-speed automatic transmission.
Under the Corolla Cross’ bonnet is a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine that delivers 169 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque. This is the same engine found in the Corolla cars which turns out to be adequate at best to move their 3,000+ lbs. Unlike the sedan and the hatchback, the Corolla Cross is only offered with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
When it comes to the powertrain, the Compass handily out-does the Corolla Cross in all respects but one.
The main culprit for the Toyota is the CVT which robs from the driving experience. With the roughly 300 extra pounds added due to the AWD, the powertrain needs time and revs to get things going. The result is noise and a little more. With passengers and gear on board, drivers will wish for more power. That wish may come true when Toyota launches the anticipated hybrid version.
The Jeep’s powertrain is far more up to the task. The 9-speed transmission is tuned into the engine and delivers quick responses to driver inputs. Acceleration is brisker than expected and it gets better.
Both utility vehicles were driven while there was plenty of snow on the ground and once more, the Jeep Compass surpasses the Toyota and by quite a margin. The base 4×4 system in the Compass is Jeep’s Active Drive 4×4 system with the Selec-Terrain Traction Management system. The power distribution can be varied front to rear in nanoseconds making for a potentially happy (and happy driver) in snowy conditions.
In the Corolla’s corner, it’s got Toyota’s Dynamic Torque Control AWD system that can eventually direct up to 50% of available power to the rear wheels. This reactive system’s job is to prevent the Corolla Cross from getting stuck, which it does. And that may be all that matters here.
As for fuel efficiency, this is where the Toyota shines. The Corolla can and will return a combined fuel consumption rating of about 7.5L/100km while the Jeep Compass will consume an extra 2L/100km.
Here’s a fun fact: The Corolla Cross offers up to 8.2 inches of ground clearance while the Compass (non-Trailhawk) has 8.1 inches.
Styling Inside and Out
This comparison pitted the more luxurious trims for each SUV. In both cases, we’ve got fancy wheels, a few visual upgrades, and thankfully colour.
Despite this, the Compass certainly looks far classier than the Corolla Cross. The seven-slat grille. 19-inch wheels and tasteful brightwork served to elevate the Jeep’s outlook to near-premium levels. This is a good time to mention that the Jeep, as tested, retailed for an eye-watering $49,975 with options.
As for the Corolla Cross, it is admittedly less imposing visually however it is still attractive enough thanks to its 18-inch wheels, LED headlamps and fog lights, and massive headlights. This model however retails for only $33,990 as tested.
No matter the price, however, the Jeep’s cabin is a far nicer place. The dashboard’s layout is far more premium with a smoother design. All manners of controls are easily accessible and ergonomically dispositioned. Surfaces and textures are elegant, something that is especially true in the tested Limited model.
Over at the Corolla Cross, its cabin is all Toyota. Although smartly laid out, the dashboard can look like an assortment of various pieces that have come together out of necessity. Materials throughout the tested XLE are not as fine as the Jeep’s but let’s not forget the $16,000 difference.
Space in both SUVs is generally good for their class. Four adult passengers can easily get comfortable onboard. As far as trunk volume is concerned, the Jeep wins out with 800 litres of accessible volume. The Toyota is down 100 litres when fitted with AWD.
Value And Features
Base model Compass Sport vs. base model Corolla Cross L, the $29,495 Jeep and $24,890 Toyota are not exactly closely matched. The Jeep is $4,500 more expensive to start which is partially covered by the larger standard 8.4-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Satellite radio, push-button start, and a few more items.
To get most of these items along with a heated steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a few active safety features, one has to select the Corolla Cross LE, which is priced from $27,090, or $2,400 less than the cheapest Compass.
At the other end of the price and trim spectrum, the $33,990 XLE Corolla Cross far out-values the Compass North which starts at $34,895.
However, if a fully-loaded ultra-premium small SUV with true off-road chops is what you crave, the tested near $50,000 Compass Limited with options is impossible to match.
Our Thoughts on the Jeep Compass and Toyota Corolla Cross
The comparison here shows that Jeep far overestimates what the Compass can be to buyers. Out of the box, it is overpriced. In fact, it is the most expensive in the segment, priced higher than some larger compact SUVs like the Chevrolet Equinox.
The Toyota Corolla Cross, with the exception of the quasi-lackadaisical powertrain, is nearly perfect. Once the hybrid version arrives, all bets will be off. For the average Canadian family, the Corolla Cross offers space, efficiency, and plenty of safety at a very attainable price point.