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Jeep Compass - Test Drive Rview

Jeep Compass - Test Drive Rview


John Swift, award winning Motoring journalist and car lover. gets behind the wheel of Jeep's latest car, the Jeep Compass.

THERE has been quite a gap in the Jeep range, a gap in both price and character, which this latest generation Compass slots into.

Sitting between the pure-off road Wrangler and the Cherokee this new Compass is a world away from it predecessor which was a rather clunky looking model and it’s now a decent rival for the likes of the Nissan Qashqai.

And it comes with an ace up its sleeve too because while there are dozens of SUVs this size few can match its towing ability. With its highest output diesel the Jeep will tow up to 1,900 kgs with a braked caravan or horsebox, putting it up there with Land Rover and Jaguar SUVs but at a somewhat lower price!

It’s a great selling point for this car and definitely something that caravanners and horsebox owners need to know about.

Styling: 4/5

It has the family look at the front with that seven-bar radiator grille and similar headlamp clusters to the bigger Jeep cars. It’s pretty much pure SUV going backwards from there, but the treatment around the C pillar, where the back window meets the roof, is a million times neater and more pleasing to the eye than the previous one, though that’s not setting the bar too high.

Jee Compass driving in the sunshine on a country road

Front end apart, the Compass is perhaps not a stand-out car in the looks department, but it is inoffensive.

Interior: 4/5

I’m being a little bit generous here, because really, Jeep could have tried a little harder. There is plenty of room, I’ll give it that, and the driving position is good with plenty of adjustment, but the plastic trim doesn’t feel quite as good as some others and I didn’t like the climate/infotainment units which are mounted between the front seats. It would have been helpful and a bit more in keeping with the market to angle them a little more to the driver making it easier to read them at a glance, and the ventilation and temperature dials, the ones you change the most, are right at the bottom of the fascia.

A tick though for the boot which is big.

Front interior of the Jeep Compass

Driving: 5/5

Maybe you have read some reports of the Compass being a bit crude on the road, with a lumpy diesel, overly light steering and a poor ride. I can only say that I don’t know which car those journalists drove because the one I tested was fine in all those areas.

My car was a 2.0 Limited with the 140 hp diesel/manual which felt smooth and produced enough torque to tow the Queen Mary, let alone a caravan. On one long slope I deliberately left it in fifth gear and let the revs die a little but it kept climbing the hill with ease and responded instantly to the accelerator.

There is the more potent 170 hp version but that is bolted to an automatic gearbox and won’t pull as heavy a load.

The ride seemed fine to me, either on 30 mph town roads or dual carriageways, and I certainly have no complaints on this score.

I would not say it is the sharpest knife in the drawer handling-wise and something like a SEAT Ateca would run rings around it into and through a bend, but it steered and handled OK and I’m glad that Jeep have not followed the example of too many others in nailing the suspension solid in the interests of `sportiness’ but to the absolute detriment of the ride quality.

There is one other point and whilst I didn’t have opportunity to try it, I’m referring to the off-road ability.

Jeep Compass driving away on a country road

Only Land Rover is as synonymous with off-terrain ability as Jeep and I do not question the company’s assertion that the Compass will take you just about anywhere you care to venture off-piste and get you back.

As well as the basic chassis and suspension engineering, the Compass comes with `intelligent’ four wheel drive which includes an ultra-low ratio setting for when the going gets especially tough and you need to crawl the car to maintain its grip and traction. Best-in-class is what Jeep claims for it and I can believe it.

Handy to know when you need to get over some wet grass to the perfect pitch for your caravan or pull the horsebox from the mud.

Specification: 4/5

The entry level Sport trim gives you LED tail lights, leather steering wheel with audio controls on it, air conditioning, cruise control, forward collision warning and 60/40 rear seat split.

Building on that the Longitude adds a reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, 8.4-inch audio and navigation screen, electric lumbar support, dual zone climate control and keyless entry and go.

Rear interior of the Jeep Compass

The Limited has halogen projector headlamps, leather power and heated seats, windscreen wiper de-icer, heated steering wheel, rain sensitive wipers, Parkview reverse camera, Parksense front and rear park assist system, blind spot and cross path detection, and parallel and perpendicular park assist.  In other words, you should feel very comfortable.

There is a Trailhawk version for the more adventurous in their off-road driving which starts at around £35,000.      

Verdict: 4/5

The Compass is a good car in most of the usual areas, but it’s a great car when it comes to towing ability. Caravan, horse and pony owners take note!


From: £22,995.

Car tested: 2.0 Limited 140 hp.

0 to 60: 10 seconds

Top speed: 118

Average mpg: 54

CO2: 138

Jeep Compass with hill in the background