Road test: Jeep Compass
The Compass has a great image but a few mild flaws.
What is it?
The newest car to wear that iconic Jeep identifier seven-slot front grille, and the second generation of a model that first appeared a decade ago.
How green is it?
Reasonably so for an SUV. The most efficient model is the 1.6 Multijet II 120PS 4×2, which achieves 64.2mpg on the combined cycle and emits 117g/km of CO2.
Who should buy one?
Adventurous types who want the rugged looks, elevation and off-road capability that comes with the territory of choosing a Jeep, and family drivers after something a bit different.
Road test by Sue Baker, February 2018
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
The first thing you notice about the Compass is the sound it makes. The test car’s 2.0-litre diesel engine has a bit of a gruff sound on start-up, and there is a background grumble as you drive that suggests the motor’s noise output isn’t as well suppressed as it might be. It’s less noticeable at motorway pace, but remains a constant accompaniment as you drive.
Jeep offers both two- and four-wheel-drive versions of the Compass. The 4×4 models are capable in the rough, but the Compass’s off-road prowess does mean a bit of on-road compromise. It isn’t as pert or precise in overall feel as the best of its type, and isn’t particularly entertaining or at all sporty to drive. That’s partly because the steering feel is a bit muted, which is often the case with on-road/off-road capable cars.
That said, the ride quality is mostly comfortable and cushions all but the worst potholes tolerably well. Body control is pretty fair, there isn’t much leans on the bends and handling is predictable.
The six-speed manual gearbox has a slick action and makes the car more enjoyable to drive, so that’s the better choice unless you really must have an auto. The test car’s nine-speed auto transmission is a bit disappointing, it feels somewhat leisurely to respond at times and lacks paddle-shifts that would let you override it and select gears manually.
As well as the 170PS (168bhp) 2.0-litre diesel we drove, there are also two 1.4-litre petrols with 140PS (138bhp) and 170PS. There are diesels with 120PS (118bhp) and 140PS. As you might expect, the least powerful 4×2 diesel is the most economical version, but even the 170PS diesel auto 4×4 returns just under 50mpg according to the official figures.
The way the Compass drives has moved up a notch from its predecessor. But meanwhile the goalposts have moved and the Jeep’s driving behaviour is outshone by others, notably the Seat Ateca and VW Tiguan.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
This new Compass has grown very slightly in overall length compared with the old model, and as a result it feels a little roomier inside. Underneath its smooth chunkiness, the Compass is based on the same base structure as a Fiat 500X, although in the Jeep’s case it’s stretched by seven centimetres.
Back seat kneeroom is pretty similar to other like-sized SUV rivals, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Kuga.
Boot space is fair at 438 litres, and the fold-down rear seats let you extend that to a useful 1693 litres with the car temporarily in two-seater configuration. Like other cars of this type, the rear seat-backs have a 60/40 split-fold facility. Unlike some others, this is a standard feature on every version, including the most basic one.
Some rival models are only available with two-wheel drive. The Compass usefully comes in 4×4 versions with Jeep’s capable Selec-Terrain system. This gives a choice of four settings (Auto/Snow/Mud/Rock) for added all-surface capability.
The Compass was tested for Euro NCAP crash safety after new tougher standards were introduced, and achieved a top five-star rating in all categories. The car is built with a high-strength safety cage structure, and features more than 70 safety systems as standard kit or available optionally. All versions come with advanced forward collision warning that combines radar and a video camera to pre-empt and warn of a likely impact.
Standard kit across the range includes a leather steering wheel with audio controls, air conditioning, cruise control, 60/40 split rear seat, 16-inch alloy wheels and LED tail lights. Moving up from basic Sport to popular Longitude spec adds keyless entry and go, dual-zone climate control, bigger alloys, CarPlay and Android connectivity, front fog lights, electric lumbar support and 8.4-inch audio and navigation screen. Limited spec has silver roof rails, privacy glass, leather seats and auto parking.
Pricing for the Compass starts from £22,995 for a 1.6 litre diesel with front-wheel drive, in base-level Sport trim. Next up is £24,995 for a 1.4 litre petrol model in Longitude trim. The best-equipped cars are the high-spec Limited trim versions, with prices kicking off at £27,995. All-wheel-drive models begin at £28,495 for a Limited 2.0-litre diesel 4×4. The range-topping and ultra-rugged Trailhawk version arrives this summer priced at £35,595.
WE SAY The Compass has a great image but a few mild flaws.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds
Economy: 49.5 mpg combined
Figures for the Jeep Compass 2.0 170 4×4 Limited Auto