A mid-sized crossover with genuine off-road prowess
- Trailhawk impresses off-road
- Likely to be generously equipped
- Should prove safe and reliable
- Strong allure of the Jeep brand
- Road-biased versions don’t move the game on
- Ride quality over bumps disappoints
- Diesel engine noisy at lower revs
If you can’t recall the original Jeep Compass SUV, then that’s probably for the best.
It was the American brand’s attempt at penetrating the burgeoning crossover market, but curious looks and interior finishes that lagged behind its European, Korean and Japanese rivals stifled much of the enthusiasm Jeep tried to whip up.
The good news is that this second attempt is much more successful – as well as being much more international in flavour.
Familiar Jeep underpinnings for the Compass
Jeep is hoping to captialise on the success of the Italian-built Renegade with the Compass and to that end it’s based it on its smaller sibling.
Stretching the wheelbase out by 70mm and extending the bodywork at the back benefits both rear-seat passengers and the Compass’s luggage-carrying capabilities.
There’s a strange effect upon the styling, though, with the rear axle looking like its set too far forwards within the traditionally-shaped housings of the trapezoidal wheelarches, a familiar Jeep cue.
Further nods to the brand’s heritage include a stance that looks ripe for off-roading, particularly in range-topping Trailhawk guise with its chamfered bumpers, but purists will lament what’s happened to the trademark seven-slot grille – it’s now merely moulded plastic without any perforations in it.
That’s the Compass isn’t as bold as the smaller Renegade or larger Cherokee is deliberate, Jeep believing there’s a large number of crossover buyers who are looking for something a little more conservatively styled.
Limited range of Jeep Compass engines
Powering the Indian-built Compass is a small selection of MultiAir II petrol and MultiJet II diesel engines, already seeing service in a number of other Jeeps and Fiats.
Performance and efficiency data is all provisional ahead of the Compass’s arrival in combined Alfa Romeo and Jeep showrooms in December 2017, but the choices are likely to be:
- 1.4 MultiAir II petrol, 140hp, manual gearbox
- 1.4 MultiAir II petrol, 170hp, automatic gearbox
- 1.6 MultiJet II diesel, 120hp, manual gearbox
- 2.0 MultiJet II diesel, 140hp, manual and automatic gearboxes
- 2.0 MultiJet II diesel, 170hp, automatic gearbox
Front- and all-wheel drive versions are available – whether you need the security of four-driven wheels will depend on your circumstances, but Jeep claims best-in-class off-roading ability for the Compass Trailhawk if that’s a priority for you.
Enhanced Jeep Compass technology
Jeep isn’t revealing details of UK equipment levels for the Compass until later in 2017, but we expect the line-up to follow the familiar Sport, Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk with increasing levels of kit and niceties as the prices rise accordingly.
There’s plenty of contemporary technology to keep you both safe and protected in the Compass, with an effectively adaptive cruise control system for on-road use and a Selec-Terrain driving mode control for when the going’s much tougher.
A welcome upgrade’s been ushered in for the Uconnect multimedia system, available in 5.0- 7.0 and 8.4-inch touchscreen sizes. We’ve only sampled the largest of these systems, but it proved responsive, with attractive graphics and the ability to connect smartphones with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Parkers Verdict
If you need your family-sized crossover to have genuine off-road ability, then the Jeep Compass in Trailhawk guise has got to be near the top of your list.
But if that go-anywhere ability is less of a priority – and let’s face it, the majority of Compasses will remain resolutely on the asphalt – then the Jeep is relegated to the ranks of being a decent alternative choice to the usual suspects in this segment.
If you want a Jeep that’s bold and don’t need quite so much space inside, the Renegade’s still the one to have