Jeep Compass

   Kuga, Kadjar, Karoq, Qashqai, Sportage, CR-V, Tiguan… And that’s to name but a few. The list of compact SUVs, soft-roaders and faux-by-fours – call –them-what-you-will - keeps growing. And yet strangely, Jeep, the brand that inspired them all (yes, even Land Rover) and the grand-daddy if-you-will of off-roaders, have been somewhat late to join this particular aspirational party. Until now that is.   

   What we have here is the new Jeep Compass - notice the word new, the last Jeep Compass is better best-forgotten - a compact SUV that fits into the all-American brand’s line-up directly between their Renegade and the Cherokee, and a car that joins a market sector that, say Jeep, is expected to grow by almost 20 percent. In Europe alone, the compact SUV counts over 1.6 million sales; it’s expected to achieve more than 2 million by 2020. No wonder then that Jeep wanted a piece of the action.

   You’ve got to hand to them, Jeep’s designers have done a fine job of making the Compass look both stylish and distinctive enough to stand-out in what is fast-becoming a crowd, whilst also retaining most of the elements of their trademark look. Both the famous seven slot grille – albeit now with individual chrome slots in a Gloss Black field - and the obligatory squared-off wheel arches put in an appearance. As do LED head and tail lamps, and all-important-on-the-school-run funky alloy wheels, which incidentally can be had in 16, 17, 18, or on the top spec Limited, 19 inch diameter.

    When it comes to engines there are two petrols and three diesels. There’s also choice of either a 9-speed auto or a 6-speed manual.  The petrol engine offering includes a 1.4-litre 140bhp MultiAir2 Turbo engine with Stop&Start in combination with the six-speed manual gearbox and 2-wheel drive, or a 4-wheel drive 170bhp 1.4 litre version paired to the nine-speed automatic transmission.

   The oil-burners on the other hand comprise of the 1.6-litre MultiJet II with Stop&Start, 120bhp, a six-speed manual gearbox and one driven axle, a 140bhp 2.0-litre MultiJet II with Stop&Start, again with the six-speed manual transmission but in this case 4x4, or a 170bhp version of the 2.0-litre MultiJet II with Stop&Start, the nine-speed automatic transmission, and 4-wheel drive. That’s enough variety surely to suit everyone?

   Now, despite Jeep’s claim that the Compass is a car that delivers “unsurpassed 4x4 capability”, the one they delivered here was actually 2-wheel drive; we got the 120bhp diesel. The truth is, like most SUV users, we had no intentions of actually straying off-road anyway. So, what of its on-road behavior?

   In a word: Compromised.

  No mid-sized SUV really delivers what could be called a truly involving driving experience, nevertheless it’s fair to say that the Compass does make for relaxed cruiser. It’s frugal too. Despite my desire to press-on, fuel economy never dropped below high 40s MPG. The problem is that all feels a little well, a little agricultural.

 The Multijet diesel – a firm favourite of parent company FIAT - is now close to a decade old. And it feels it. I provides ample performance if kept on song, but it’s sluggish if you are too. You have to keep stirring the slightly notchy gearbox to prevent any turbo-lag and, well, it’s not what you’d call the most refined of engines. It’s noisy on start-up, gruff during acceleration, and never what you’d really call hushed at any time. The ride is also a point of contention. On all but billiard board smooth surfaces The Compass rocks and rolls where its competition would glide.

    Add to that an interior that although well-equipped (there’s even a 230V socket) and capacious enough to accommodate five, is a world away, technology, ergonomically and build quality-wise when compared to that of its similarly-priced aforementioned contemporaries, and clearly, you’ve not got what could be considered a class-leading package.

   That said though, strangely, it’s hard not to like the Compass. The driving position is good, it never feels unwieldy or too tank-like, and despite its lack of refinement it feels as if it will and run and run, and then run some more. It also gets one of the most famous badges in off-road history. 

   But is that enough? When all said and done the Compass feels compromised. You can’t help feeling that a near-£30K mid-sized SUV should be more sophisticated than this.


Jeep Compass 1.6 MultiJet 120hp 2WD Limited


Engine: 1,598cc 4Cyl turbo-diesel

Transmission: 6 Speed Manual, front wheel drive.

Power:   120 bhp @ 3,750 rpm

Torque: 236 lbft @ 1,750rpm

0-62MPH: 11.0 Sec

Max Speed: 115 mph

CO2: 117 g/km

MPG: 64.2 (combined)

Price: £28,995 (Car driven £33,645)


Many thanks to Thomas at Jeep’s UK press office for the loan of the Compass



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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