Jeep Compass vs Tata Harrier: Which SUV should the ‘family man’ buy?

We had a blast driving the Tata Harrier around Jodhpur last week and can’t wait for Tata Motors to announce its official pricing. This will be crucial as the Harrier will lock horns with multiple offerings, right from the Creta to the XUV500 and even the more expensive Compass. This also brings us to the topic here – if you are in the market looking for a large SUV for family use, which one should be your pick and why?

Almost everything that we need to know about the Harrier is in place. Its an impressive product no doubt but so is the Jeep Compass. I had one for three months here at Cartoq and have fond memories of its capabilities. Infact, I did use it multiple times for family outings and likewise, used the Harrier with four adults on board for over two hours last week. Without further ado then, lets look at both the SUVs in detail across various parameters.

Which’s one the show stopper? 

The Tata Harrer is not only a stunning looking SUV, it beats the Jeep Compass hands down in terms of road presence. Dimensionally, the Harrier is longer, wider and taller than the Compass and also offers higher ground clearance. Likewise, the front end is massive with striking DRLs, flared wheel arches and a better rear too. The Compass in comparison looks sober and toned down. Stand alone, we love the way the Compass looks though. Newer and higher spec versions get uber cool alloy wheels and a contrasting roof adds to the bling factor.

Even then though, the Harrier wins this first round. You simply cannot ignore it on the road. Its that good. Certainly then, your family would want to arrive in this one, rather than the Jeep SUV. Everyone loves attention, right?

Comfort king?

The Compass first. The cabin, depending on the version you pick, will either offer a dual tone theme or an all-black one. There is no denying the fact that fit and finish on the Compass is excellent. Its feel like a solid cabin and the touch and feel of every single button is good. The seats are comfortable and there is good room for five adults.

The Harrier however gets brownie points for that lovely faux wooden inserts, well crafter inner door handles and a true sense of space. Thanks to larger dimensions, the Harrier has more room for 5 large adults. This is an important parameter when considering family usage. The boot however is smaller, but only by a whisker.

Jeep Compass vs Tata Harrier: Which SUV should the ‘family man’ buy?

While the Harrier does not get a sunroof or a powered driver’s seat (both present on the Compass), it offers a larger touch screen, a far better audio system and a larger speedometer display. Further, it offers logo projection via the outside mirrors, cooled storage and a cruise control. This second round then is a close call but we give it to the Harrier solely because of the extra passenger area on offer.

The better drive? 

Both the vehicles come with the same 2.0-litre diesel motor. In the Compass, it makes 171 bhp / 350 Nm but in the Harrier, power is down to 138 bhp. Both the vehicles also get a 6 speed manual gearbox but it seems to work better on the Harrier in terms of a lighter clutch and less tendency to stall at lower revs. The Compass however offers unmatched performance. It really is very quick for an SUV.

The Harrier is not bad for highway runs but suffers from wind noise at over 90 km/h. Also, while Jeep offers the Compass with an AWD, this has been given a miss on the Harrier. Petrol fans will also walk into Jeep showrooms as the Harrier will only be offered with a Diesel engine. That said, the Harrier clearly offers far better drive comfort, its suspension absorbing broken roads and undulations extremely well. The Compass is dynamically sorted but passengers can easily feel the underlying firmness that can be discomforting while driving the car alone at lower speeds.

But all said and done, in terms of engine and performance, the Compass is our pick here. If you seek comfort, the Harrier it is then.

Tata Harrier vs Jeep Compass : The Verdict

It goes without saying that Tata will price the Harrier much lower than the Compass. Both the cars however are made at the same manufacturing facility near Pune. The base diesel Compass starts at about Rs 16.6 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) and the Harrier will undercut it by minimum 4 lakhs. That’s a lot of money (you can buy a base Tiago for that money) and even though the Compass offers better performance, is dynamically accomplished and has more features in the form of a sunroof, AWD and powered driver’s seat, a value buy it isn’t.

The title for that goes to the Tata Harrier. The Tiago, Tigor and Nexon are the most affordable products in their own segments and we are sure Tata will repeat this with the Harrier as well. While the design is certainly its USP, the extra passenger room and a better ride quality will certainly pamper your family and cheaper maintenance costs in the long run will take care of your pocket. For family usage then, our pick here is the Tata Harrier.