Most crossovers have rather abstract names. But the Forester and Compass participants in this Jeep vs. Subaru comparison unambiguously speak of their purpose. We will try to find out which of them – Subaru Forester or Jeep Compass – fully justifies the name.
The Subaru Forester began its evolution almost from an ordinary passenger station wagon with an all-wheel drive transmission. From the third generation, the car has started to grow in dimensions and ground clearance. To date, the model is a typical crossover, loved by many Indiana drivers. Moreover, like the entire Subaru line, the modern Forester is more pleased with its exterior design than its predecessors. Nothing is surprising here – the competition in the crossover segment is so great that, without an attractive appearance, any model is doomed to failure in the US market.
The Compass has a less rich history but a noble Jeep pedigree . The creators tried to focus on it, giving the front of the first generation an external resemblance to their legendary Wrangler model. However, in the middle of the 2000s, its design caused a lot of controversies. Today, this trend is already in the past, and thanks to the new corporate trends of the company, the modern Compass has a more organic, in the spirit of the flagship of the Grand Cherokee brand , exterior design. The former image has been preserved on decor elements: a radiator grill with round headlights from Wrangler, the reflectors of the low-beam headlights, and the frame of the automatic transmission selector. Such a touching symbol of the brand.
While both Jeep and Subaru make excellent SUVs that offer outstanding performance in Indiana, Subaru tends to take the lead in innovation and safety.
The Jeep Compass is still the youngest model in the brand line. And there are plenty of off-road representatives in this family. So, its main task is to ensure the brand presence in the crossover segment with Subaru Forester and Nissan Rogue Sport competitors. And this is noticeable in its not the most outstanding off-road performance, including its geometric component. But it will be a perfect city dweller for everyday commutes around Indianapolis.
The Subaru Forester cannot be called the youngest in the family. And this model is more ambitious, given the growth of its dimensions compared to the previous generation. Well-developed parameters of geometric cross-country ability can also be attributed to ambitions. The Forester outperforms its Jeep and Nissan rival in most gaps, except for the low-lying rear suspension arms: if you get in a rut, they will scrape along its inner edges as if you were driving a regular car. The Compass, on the other hand, is inferior in the entry angle but pleases with the exit angle due to the short rear overhang, which indicates a small trunk volume. The angles of the Forester are the same front and rear, and the overhangs are quite long.
Perhaps the creators of the fourth-generation Forester overdid it a little with growth to the detriment of proportions, but they pleased the interior space. The cabin spaciousness is, perhaps, one of the key features of the new Forester, which is best understood by trying to get into the back seat. In the Jeep Compass, there is not much room in the back. After the Forester, the volume of the cabin does not seem impressive. However, sitting in front, you almost don’t feel it anymore.
The Compass has perfect visibility, and the side mirrors are quite large. True, the view back through the salon mirror of the Compass deserves serious criticism since the headrests of the rear seats cover a good half of the image. And in this state of affairs, it is surprising that even a rich Compass configuration does not have a rear-view camera or parking sensors. There is a large display on the center console, and as a rule, this option comes with the camera. The Subaru Forester can boast a camera, but the screen on the front panel is not as large as that of the Compass, and the Forester does not have parking radars either. Therefore, parking in reverse on both vehicles requires some caution.
The Jeep Compass outplayed the Subaru Forester in infotainment: at a lower cost, it is equipped with a multimedia system with a navigation function. True, Forester attracts with another feature – an automatic drive of the tailgate. You can open it with a button from the passenger compartment or remotely with a key. But Compass has folding speakers on the inside of the tailgate.
In other respects, the configurations of the Jeep and Subaru are similar. However, driving ergonomics are still slightly better in the Subaru Forester. Its steering column is adjustable in two dimensions, while the Jeep Compass is height-adjustable only. But some simplicity in design plays in favor of the Compass. The conciseness of the instruments and the focus of the display on the dashboard alone contribute to better readability. For Forester, the excessive dispersion of information elements takes some time to get used to. So, despite the superiority in options, a Subaru compared to a Jeep has many disadvantages.
The Jeep Compass of previous generations was equipped with a step-less variator, and hydromechanical automatics were installed on the Subaru Forester. Now everything has changed to the opposite. The new Forester, perhaps, benefited from such an innovation. In general, CVT is a controversial transmission. This transmission should be more efficient, as it can adjust the gear ratio to any engine operating mode and speed. This should have a positive effect on both the economy and acceleration dynamics. But in reality, not every variator is set up properly, and most often, the responsiveness of a continuously variable transmission leaves much to be desired. But this does not apply to the CVT of the new Subaru Forester. Perhaps this case is one of the few when a continuously variable transmission outperforms a conventional automatic one in terms of reactions to driver actions. Three modes are available: Normal, Intelligent, or Sport. Intelligence is the most economical, and Sport is the sharpest. Contrary to popular belief about this system, SI-Drive does not switch the engine power but only changes the interaction characteristics of the electronic gas pedal and the fuel mixture supply system.
As for the Jeep Compass, its six-speed automatic transmission is tuned for a comfortable and quiet ride. For acceleration, the car is not as zealous as its rival. Here, of course, the slightly smaller volume of the Compass engine also affects. And although its power differs from the Forester by only one horsepower, the torque is noticeably less. All this contributes to smooth acceleration without noticeable jerks when switching but also reduces the dynamics. The manual shift mode that the Compass is equipped with does not change the situation much. Forester also has a manual mode, more precisely, an imitation. By activating it, you can use the steering wheel paddles to change fixed ranges that simulate gears. But this mode is not very useful: the CVT does its job perfectly.
Choosing the best crossover between Subaru and Jeep is not an easy task for any Indiana citizen. Both vehicles have pros and cons:
Personal experience will be a decisive factor in choosing your winner. Visit Indy Auto Man in Indianapolis to test drive a used Jeep and Subaru and buy your favorite model.