Recalculated and overhauled, the all-new JEEP Compass is a genuine off-road champ and city-slick crossover SUV.
Tested: JEEP Compass Limited || 2.0 Multijet II 170 4WD
Jeep Compass Specs || Engine: 4 Cylinders 1956cc, turbo-charged diesel, 168BHP @ 3750rpm || Torque: 280Ib || Transmission: 9-speed auto, 0-62 in 10.1 sec || Top Speed: 122mph || Wheel height: 18in || Fuel efficiency: 54 mpg / CO2 148g/km || Tax band: E
The “all-new” JEEP Compass is a much-needed refresh of the company’s mid-tier SUV offering. The previous model was boxy and awkward looking. It received a lukewarm reception when it launched in 2006 and was taken into a dark alley and quietly dispatched from UK dealerships some time in 2015. What was so wrong with the previous JEEP Compass? There wasn’t enough right with it. That’s what. We had a similar issue with the JEEP Renegade, however, in fairness, the Renegade does seem to have gone down relatively well. But we digress, the new JEEP Compass fixes a lot of what was wrong with the first generation, for starters, it looks like a proper JEEP. After a bit of recalculating, JEEP went back to the drawing board, and then clay-modelled a vehicle that is steeped in its JEEP legacy without being hampered by it and looking dated.
JEEP Compass 2018 Review – Exterior
With its sleek contemporary shape, iconic JEEP 7-slot grille and trapezoidal wheel arches, aggressive lines define the new JEEP Compass, particularly the top line flowing from the windshield, across its body, through the door handles, to the rear and continuing through the tail light. The incline of the Compass’ body is tapered by its sloping roof top, further adding to its sporty look. Measuring in at 440cm in length and 164cm in height, with a wheel base of 264cm, the Compass is bigger than the JEEP Renegade but smaller than the JEEP Grand Cherokee. Thankfully, it takes its cues from the top of the line rather than the lower tier.
If you live a lifestyle that takes you from the city to the great outdoors (lucky bastard), this car is designed with you in mind.”
We were told in the JEEP Compass press briefing back in April, that influences such as Iron Man’s suits, wild predators and elite athletes were all design inspirations for this model and it comes through at every angle. The JEEP Compass looks sophisticated, bold and shark-like in all of its eight colours: Brilliant Black, Vocal White, Magnesio Grey, Colorado Red, Mojave Sand, Hydro Blue, Minimal Grey and Bronze. We loved black and Magnesio Grey most.
JEEP Compass 2018 Review – Interior
Unfortunately the interior of the JEEP Compass is less exhilarating, but perhaps that’s not what you’re after in this car. What you get is a refined approach, with intentional nods to the small details and lines of its exterior and an almost Grand Cherokee-lite dashboard. There’s a conscious interplay between tones and textures throughout the vehicle, rewarding those who pay attention, but there’s little wow factor for first impressions. In its most attractive configuration, heated black leather seats with two-toned accent stitching, the JEEP Compass still struggles to have any real character, feeling more functional than anything else. Not to be too down on the car though, having driven the new JEEP Compass on highways, country lanes and off road in England and in Portugal, it does have some great functionality, including heated steering wheel, dual climate control, park assist and blind-spot detection. It provides bags of room and comfort, on road, as well as off road, although the diesel version a touch on the noisy side.
Sitting in the driving seat, you’re given plenty of space for seating and steering adjustment, with good road visibility. JEEP has also placed a 7in full-colour Instrument Cluster on the Limited and Trailhawk versions of the car. The additional screen allows drivers to manage calls, audio and navigation without taking their hands off the steering wheel. It works great and keeps you focused on the road ahead. The cheapest “Sport” model, starting at around £23K, comes with cloth seats, DAB Radio, and a 5in or 7in touchscreen infotainment system. Pay a little more for the more premium, JEEP Compass Longitude or Limited versions and you get a much more attractive 8.4in Uconnect control centre, which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, for navigation, phone management and entertainment. The premium option also includes an enhanced audio experience courtesy of Beats.
JEEP Compass 2018 Review – Verdict
The JEEP Compass enters a highly competitive segment, dominated by the Nissan Qashqai and occupied by other popular models such as the Tiguan from VW, Seat Ateca, the Audi Q5, Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Peugeot 3008. How does it stack up? JEEP has put together a range of options, from two petrol to four diesel engine/transmission combos in four classes, suitable for most requirements. The new Indian-built Compass starts with a 138bhp 1.3 litre MultiAir II unit with 230Nm of torque, which on paper hits 0-60 in just under 10 seconds. We’ve only driven the 2.0 litre diesel 4WD Auto JEEP Compass Limited and Trailhawk (released in 2018) versions so we can’t comment specifically on the performance at the lower end, however, offering authentic 4WD capability at every price point puts the Compass closer to the front of the class within the compact SUV segment.
On the open road the Compass feels conservative and secure, offering over 70 safety and security features, including, lane departure detection, hill-start assist, a high strength steel frame, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning system. As a result, the European New Car Assessment Programme gave the Jeep Compass a full compliment of five stars for safety, so this is definitely a car suitable for families. It’s not the sportiest drive though and putting your foot down on a clear road the nine-speed auto transmission can feel a little underwhelming, but it does steer and corner solidly. Off-road, the JEEP Compass did surprise, in a good way. The car’s Selec-Terrain System offers Snow, Mud and Sand adaptation, with the Trailhawk adding Rock-tackling functionality and hill descent control. For the most part we left the Compass in Auto, but we had a chance to test out the hill descent feature off-road and on rocks in Portugal and it worked amazingly well, handling acceleration and clutch, leaving the driver to do nothing but steer. In terms of storage, the JEEP is as good as one would expect but no better At 438-litres of luggage space, the Compass is in line with the Nissan Qashqai, but left in the shade when compared to the Tiguan’s cavernous 615 litres with the seats still up.
As we said in the beginning of the verdict, the all-new JEEP Compass faces some very stiff competition, there are cheaper models in the compact SUV segment that offer more power and better fuel efficiency. However, having had the opportunity to test drive the Compass, it makes its own case well and with JEEP Active Drive technology it strides the two areas of city and off-road with the best in its category. If off-road, all-terrain performance is important to you, then waiting until mid-2018 for the Trailhawk is probably a good idea; it’s a star. But that said, the Limited Compass ticks a lot of boxes: it’s safe, solid, handles beautifully and looks like an apex predator on the road. If you live a lifestyle that takes you from the city to the great outdoors (lucky bastard), this car is designed with you in mind.
JEEP are currently taking pre-orders and will begin shipping the JEEP Compass 2018 in the coming months. Head here for more information: jeep.co.uk/compass