The new Jeep Compass, a smaller and smarter SUV has been officially launched in the UK. Our first impressions were good and it packs a lot of punch for the price, starting at £23K, which is pretty competitive.
The Jeep brand has a prestigious history and now that Chrysler has allied with Fiat we expect this brand to grow in value and market share. In fact they saw sales rise by 19% in 2016 which is very impressive in such a saturated market.
Jeep is wisely aiming at the growing family market with this compact SUV and it certainly looks the business. It has the updated 7 slot grill, trapezoidal wheel arches, dual pane sunroof, a chrome stripe that goes all around the car, with a black roof and pillars, giving it a distinctive, stylish look.
The line-up starts with a 1.4-litre petrol, and 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel options as either a six speed manual or nine speed automatic. There are two petrol options in the Compass, starting with the 140 bhp 1.4-litre MultiAir II turbo with Stop&Start which does 62mph in 9.8-seconds. There’s also a168 bhp version which only comes with 4 wheel drive and an automatic nine-speed gearbox. 0-62mph takes 9.8 seconds and top speed is 126 mph, which let’s face it is fine as you won’t be taking this on a track anytime soon.
They all feature Jeep Active Drive and Jeep Active Drive Low, which automatically switches from two to four wheel drive as required. You can select drive mode with Selec-Terrain, for Mud, Sand and Snow drive, there is even a Rock mode just in case you get to take it on a proper adventure and need to glide over boulders. The 4x4 capability is Trail Rated for water fording, manoeuvrability, articulation and serious ground clearance and the Hill Descent Control works well, changing down gears smoothly on 17 inch off road specific wheels.
Jeep have improved their safety with over 70 safety systems, such as Adaptive Cruise Control which senses vehicles in front, a forward collision warning that will alert you and brake if you fail to do so. There is also a lane sense departure warning and they can now boast a five star Euro NCAP safety rating, a big improvement on the three stars from last year. It also comes with six airbags as standard.
The Jeep Compass comes with top of the range audio in all models and Apple CarPlay which enables iPhone users to access Apple Maps, Messages, phone and Apple Music through Siri voice control as well as Android Auto™ that enables easy access to Google Maps and Google Play Music via Uconnect™ touchscreen or steering-wheel controls.There are 4 models: Sport, Longitude, Limited and the hard core Trail Hawk (available summer 2018). A reversing camera comes as standard in all models from the Longitude up.
A configurable 3.5-inch driver information display enhances the functionalities of the instrument panel on the Sport and Longitude models, while a 7-inch full-colour display is offered as standard on Limited and Trailhawk models. The touch screens are light and respond fast, starting at 5.0 inches as standard, which can be upped to 7.0 inch and 8.4 inch.
Jeep also have a tradition of Easter Egg design elements, with their designers concealing little visual cues and elements in the car that owners can uncover with time. It connects the work and passion that the designers enjoy while crafting the cars with the people who will actually drive them, always a good idea.
We took the Jeep Compass out in East Sussex and drove from Brighton along to the Crab and Lobster in Chichester which is a gorgeous spot, providing plenty of opportunities to test out the town and road performance. The Compass is quick enough on smooth roads and it has good pick up at lower revs, so great for town driving. It is a little top heavy around the corners, but the reactive dampeners make for a lovely refined ride. It is a very practical car, with five doors and plenty of leg room and large boot space. Overall the interior is smart, but not as creative and attractive as the exterior, though hugely comfortable. It certainly manages to convey a luxury beyond its price level and should wear well due to its use of hard wearing modern materials, so along with the Jeep badge I would expect the Compass to maintain a good resale value. The all round visibility is very good and you certainly appreciate the beauty spots of Sussex from the high viewpoint.
Essentially this car is for those weekend warriors who spend most of their time ferrying the kids to school, but just occasionally get out to go base jumping, mountain biking or rock climbing. That’s where this car really comes into its own. Its off road credentials are impeccable and it can handle rough terrain far better than most of its rivals that are really just large town cars. A car you can happily take for those jaunts down to the South of France or the surf spots in Southern Spain.