Jeep fans, you’re going to want to look away for this because there’s bad news coming your way: GMC has you folks beat. I’ll give you this: the Jeep Compass is probably better prepared for handling rough off-road trails – it is a Jeep after all. But otherwise, as soon as you start looking at the 2020 GMC Terrain vs 2020 Jeep Compass and get into the details of what each of these SUVs can provide, the picture you end up with isn’t pretty.
If you are a GMC fan, you’re in for a whole lot of good news! In fact, I probably should’ve started with you all and not with the Jeep fans out there. They’ve probably left by now anyway, off to read about the Gladiator or the upcoming Jeep Wagoneer. Let’s not rub too much salt in the wound, because GMC-loving friends of mine, you’re in for a treat. From the power of its available engines to its maximum towing capacity and increased cargo space, the GMC Terrain is simply better than the Jeep Compass in some crucial ways.
But enough prefacing – let’s get to the good stuff!
#1: A More Powerful Engine
For starters, there are two different engines available on the 2020 GMC Terrain, compared to just one engine choice on the Jeep Compass. So GMC already has an advantage here: I mean options are just better than no options. Unless the engine in the Jeep Compass is wildly superior to any other choice out there (spoiler alert: it isn’t), it’s a bad idea only to have one.
So let’s take a look at that one engine the 2020 Jeep Compass can come with. It’s a 2.4L Tigershark I-4 engine that can offer up to 180 hp and up to 175 lb-ft of torque. That’s not terrible, but it’s not amazing, and it would be great to have another option with more power. Depending on which trim of the Compass you look at, it comes with either a 6-speed manual transmission, a 6-speed automatic transmission, or a 9-speed automatic.
Now, let’s check out what the 2020 GMC Terrain has to offer. The starting engine on the Terrain is a 1.5L Turbo 4-cylinder engine that provides up to 170 hp and up to 203 lb-ft of torque. You can see that’s slightly less horsepower than the Jeep engine, but quite a bit more torque. When we look more at the available engines in the Terrain, it’s just no contest. You can get a 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder engine that delivers up to 252 hp and up to 260 lb-ft of torque.
Seriously – that blows away the kind of power you can get in the Jeep Compass. Also, both engines at every trim in the GMC Terrain come with a 9-speed automatic transmission. So unless you want a manual transmission (and less power), there’s no reason to choose the Jeep over the GMC Terrain. It’s just that simple – and we still have four more reasons to go!
#2: Greater Towing Capacity
A far more powerful engine is, in and of itself, already a win for the GMC Terrain over the Jeep Compass, but that power also translates into real performance superiority. While towing capacity might not be the most important thing to you when looking at an SUV, especially compared to the differences between two pickup trucks or something like that, it should still matter. After all, a good SUV should be able to handle some weight behind it and at least tow a trailer or camper.
The maximum towing capacity of the 2020 Jeep Compass, if properly equipped and configured for optimal towing, is just 2,000 lbs. That’s not terrible or anything, but it’s not exactly mind-blowing either. The 2020 GMC Terrain, on the other hand, when properly equipped for it, can tow up to 3,500 lbs. I’m not a mathematician, but I’m fairly certain 3,500 > 2,000. Yes?
And that’s not just a minor difference either. A lot of the time, when comparing vehicles, you’ll see a difference in towing of only 100 lbs, and the winning vehicle will spike the ball and start dancing. But here, that’s 75% more towing power, which is significant. You can pull a lot more behind you, nearly a ton more, with the Terrain than the Jeep Compass. Football = spiked.
#3: More Cargo Space Inside
Even if you’re not interested in towing with your SUV (you monster), you should certainly care about how much stuff you can cram into it. What’s the fun of owning an SUV if you don’t try to jam a piece of furniture that should not be able to fit based on all practical laws of physics? Well, the GMC Terrain comes out on top. Again.
With the rear seats down, the 2020 Jeep Compass has just over 59 cu.ft. of cargo space, while the GMC Terrain gives you more than 63 cu.ft. of cargo space behind the front seats. Picture a four-foot by four-foot three-dimensional cube – that’s a pretty big difference. Even with the rear seats up, you still get more than two cu.ft. of cargo space more in the GMC Terrain than you do in the Compass.
In other words: when a friend asks you to help him move on a lovely Saturday morning, you’ll have a lot more room inside the GMC Terrain to fit your cooler and other camping supplies after you tell him you’re “sick” and choose to get out of town for a few days instead.
#4: Better Standard Interior Features
Both of these vehicles have a lot of standard and available features inside with plenty of different trims for you to choose from. But the standard features on the GMC Terrain are more substantial, even when you look at the highest trims for both vehicles.
For example, the 2020 GMC Terrain Denali, which is its highest trim, features an 8-inch Infotainment display with Navigation and a Bose premium audio system. It also has ambient interior lighting, a hands-free power programmable rear liftgate, and a wireless charging pad inside. All of these features come standard on the Denali, plus there are available options you can pick if you want even more.
By comparison, the highest trim of the Jeep Compass, the Limited, comes with a standard 6-speaker sound system and ambient lighting. If you want Navigation, an Alpine premium sound system, or a power liftgate, you have to choose them as additional options. They’re not standard, not even on the highest trim.
#5: More Safety Features
In fairness to the 2020 Jeep Compass, it does have some solid safety features. Things like hill start assist and a comprehensive airbag system are standard. But other great features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, and rear park assist are all available but not standard, not even on the highest trim of the Compass. Plus, these features are split between two additional safety packages, rather than all being included in one.
By comparison, the highest trim of the Terrain, the Denali, includes automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, and a comprehensive airbag system. It also has rear cross-traffic alert, front, and rear park assist, and lane change alert with side blind zone alert all standard at this trim. Plus, features like a Teen Driver system and a safety alert seat are also included in the GMC Terrain Denali, which are not available for the Jeep Compass at all.
It seems pretty clear to me: the 2020 GMC Terrain comes out on top time and again.