Jeep Compass Review: Pumped-up Style
by Sue Baker
That famous seven-slot front grille is the unmistakable signature of the car that wears it. Here comes the newest and smallest model in the Jeep range.
It’s the ‘Hoover’ of the motoring world. Jeep is the brand with the name that has become generic of a certain kind of vehicle. Whatever the badge on the front of a chunky, rugged-looking car of the SUV variety, plenty of people will simply call it a ‘jeep’.
The famously American Jeep brand reputedly owes its name to a variation of the initials GP, from a wartime army ‘general purpose’ vehicle. Jeep has a long and illustrious history of producing some of the most butch, go-anywhere cars with a rugged reputation around the world.
Its more recent products, though, tread a much more road-orientated, luxury-leaning route, with models like the Cherokee and Renegade wooing buyers who want urban ruggedness that probably goes no further off-road than a grass verge.
Jeep was early into the SUV-crossover scene, with the first generation Compass that appeared ten years ago and continued until 2015. It had slightly awkward styling, and you don’t see many of them on the road today.
This new one is the second generation Compass, and a smoother and more stylish looker than its predecessor. Its shapely design is certainly more appealing, and it is a more worthy contestant for the growing generation of SUV-crossover models that now proliferate across the car market.
The Compass needs to woo its customers away from rival offerings such as the Nissan Qashqai, Seat Ateca, Volkswagen Tiguan, Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 3008, so it has its work cut out to divert attention from some very capable alternatives.
Underneath its much more hunky exterior, the Compass shares some common componentry with Fiat’s 500X crossover model. Jeep is a division of the FCA group, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, having been acquired by the former Chrysler Corporation thirty years ago.
You might assume that a Jeep is inevitably a 4×4, and manufactured in the United States. Neither is accurate in the case of the Compass. Some versions are front-wheel-drive, in keeping with the current crossover trend, and the Compass is produced at a factory in Mexico.
The newly-launched UK range comes with four engine choices: two 1.4 litre petrol motors with 138 or 168 bhp power outputs, and two diesels, a 1.6 with 118 bhp and two-litre with 168 bhp.
Compass pricing starts from £22,295 for a 1.4 litre MultiAir petrol model with front-wheel-drive and a manual six-speed gearbox, in base level Sport trim, with 16-inch wheels and cloth interior upholstery.
The flagship model version, coming next summer, will be the Trailhawk 4×4 with serious off-road capability for more determined mud-pluggers. Meanwhile, the current top version is our test car, a two-litre diesel 4×4 with nine-speed auto transmission and Limited trim, with 18-inch wheels and a leather interior.
So what is the Compass like to drive? It’s a mixed verdict. You feel good in an elevated driving position, wrapped around by a smoothly styled body that wears that iconic front grille.
Ride quality is pretty reasonable, the car hangs on to the bends tidily and doesn’t lean much around the twists and turns of a country back road.
It performs pleasantly, although not as pertly as some of its rivals. There’s not much feel to the steering, and quite a bit of engine noise from the grumbly diesel. The nine-speed auto transmission isn’t the slickest of its kind, and doesn’t have the advantage of paddle shifts on the steering column, so the car is more enjoyable with a six-speed manual gearbox.
This 4×4 model does have the benefit of Jeep’s capable Selec-Terrain system that lets you choose between four settings: Auto, Snow, Mud or Rock. Those equip the car to tackle whatever challenges the coming winter or a thirst for adventure might lead you to encounter.
Jeep Compass Stats Review
Model tested: Compass 2.0 170 4×4 Limited auto
Top speed: 122 mph
0-62 mph: 10.1 secs
Economy: 49.5 mpg
CO2: 148 g/km
Images: Sue Baker
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