What’s the Difference Between the 2016 Jeep Compass and 2016 Jeep Patriot?

2016 Jeep Compass

At a passing glance, the only noticeable difference between the 2016 Jeep Compass for sale and 2016 Jeep Patriot are the price and name. Both are built on the Chrysler GS platform, which was developed by Mitsubishi, and both have the same engine options, safety features, and even interior materials. Which begs the question: what’s the difference between the two? Well, believe it or not, the design of each vehicle plays a lot into it — and the difference between the design goes a lot further than just aesthetics.

The styling of the Compass and Patriot reflects what these vehicles are meant to do. Here’s how…

Compass

2014 Jeep Compass Aluminum Tires

The 2016 Jeep Compass can be equipped with the same 2.0-liter or 2.4-liter engine. Both models return (practically) the same mpg, and they have the same transmission choices. This means they have similar performance on paper, but their design is what reveals their true nature on or off the road.

Design

If these two models were side by side, a brief look will present you with the familiar outline of two other Jeeps: the Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee. Since the Compass looks more like the new-age Grand Cherokee and the Patriot has a more traditional Jeep Wrangler shape, it’s no surprise to discover the design of the Compass is intended more towards on-road travel than off-road. Now, I’m not saying the Compass is unable to off-road. All Jeep models have a Trail Rated badge on a certain trim, signifying their ability to complete the Rubicon trail, which means the Compass still performs better off-road than any other CUVs on the market.

But, other than the platform, seven-slot grille, and Jeep logo — the Compass is completely different compared to the Patriot. For starters, it just looks more like an on-road vehicle, thanks to its thick and wide front-fascia, squarish LED headlights, and a hood that has your average raised center, creating valleys on the sides. The windshield is sloped backward and seamlessly integrates into the roofline, which carries that arch all the way to a small spoiler above the back window. That back window steeply slants down in line with the top of the taillights, which are bulging out on the sides thanks to a muscular quarter panel. A chiseled character line that starts at the front of the vehicle runs from the headlights to the taillights and provides the otherwise plain sides with some definition.

Aerodynamic

As nice as this vehicle looks, there is a lot you can learn from its pretty design just by studying it. Obviously, there was a reason this vehicle’s design isn’t akin to its brother’s. That reason is that this vehicle is more aerodynamic than the Patriot, just like the Grand Cherokee is more aerodynamic than the Wrangler. It all starts with the front fascia, and while it’s wide, looking at it from the side reveals the nose is actually tapered forward to help get the air up and over the front-end. After that, the air hits the hood, which has the raised center and valleys to help send the airflow either off and away from the vehicle, or onto the windshield. This is why the windshield slants backward towards the roof, and also why the windshield and roofline have such a flawless transition between the two. Airflow can easily pass up to the roofline, where the slight arch and spoiler ensure it rolls harmlessly off the back.

Even though it’s built on the same platform as the Patriot, the ride quality will be entirely different when on paved roads at higher speeds.

Patriot

2014 Jeep Patriot

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the 2016 Patriot. This vehicle is geared more towards off-roading, and can even have tow-hooks installed — something the Compass lacks its all-weather tow group package. The higher stance that comes with the more classic design of the Patriot allows it to have a better break over and entry/departure angles, which means it will be able to traverse more difficult terrain than the Compass.

Design

Taking a look at the design is like a trip back in time. The traditional looking front-fascia, round headlights, and seven-slot grille look just like some of the models from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s Jeeps. The square cut hood is also reminiscent of days gone by, as well as the windshield that sticks up almost a little too straight, where it meets a flat and plain roofline. Even the cab is the same old-school box shape, with a simple back-end and large rectangular taillights.

While getting hit with that wave of nostalgia is nice, an old-school design like this is going to have some old-school issues. There is plenty of wind noise that gets inside the cabin when traveling on the road. Not to mention, the unrefined and old platform and suspension allow plenty of vibrations to travel up and through the floor as well. But, the silver-lining is that it has more off-road capability than the Compass since the design is clearly more oriented more towards traversing trails.

Am I saying the Compass is a perfectly flawless road-trip vehicle? Of course not, it shares the same platform after all, and every vehicle has its own set of issues. But, the Compass won’t experience the wind noise that the Patriot will — because the design was built to minimize that and travel more effectively on the road.

The Final Word

2014 Jeep Compass

The 2016 Jeep Compass and 2016 Jeep Patriot: both have the same dimensions (in terms of size), platform, engines, transmissions, materials, and even fuel economy. But the one difference is the design that sits on top of that GS platform. The aerodynamic shape of the Compass makes it a more road-trip friendly vehicle, whereas the traditional high-stance and square design of the Patriot support better entry, departure, and break-over angles, making for a superior off-roader.

At the end of the day though, the Compass and Patriot are able to both perform adequately on and off the road — one is just more suited towards an urban environment and the other one belongs in the woods. But, it doesn’t change the fact they are both relatively low-priced, especially for a Jeep vehicle, and they both receive stellar fuel economy at the pump. Even if they are both a little unrefined and sitting on an old platform, they are still well worth the price and provide plenty of value for the dollar.