Jeep is known for its rugged 4x4s with go anywhere capability, and these products are very much what this brand’s foundations still revolve around.
But over the years, the rise of more softer models and crossovers has been too great for Jeep to ignore — just look at the rise of models such as the Nissan Juke-rivalling Jeep Renegade.
There is also another kid on the block — the Compass — which slots neatly between the Renegade and larger Cherokee. It’s one of the first times Jeep has offered a compact SUV, which looks to rival the Volkswagen Tiguan and Peugeot 3008, though with more off-roading ability than the rest of the class can offer.
One of the highlights of the Compass is undoubtedly its chunky styling, with its wide stance, renowned seven-slot grille and beefy wheel arches. It’s also the first Jeep to come with the new Uconnect infotainment system, which is offered across many other products across the group.
The Compass has also been awarded a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, with a lengthy list of advanced driver aids fitted as standard, and even more available on the options list.
But in such a popular class with many accomplished models, can the Compass be a genuine challenger?
A good number of engine configurations are available on the Compass, with the range starting with a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which is available with an output of 138bhp or 168bhp. The less powerful version is paired to a six-speed manual transmission and is front-wheel-drive, whereas the more powerful engine gains Jeep’s new nine-speed automatic transmission, as well as four-wheel-drive.
If you decide to choose a diesel, the smaller 118bhp 1.6-litre MultiJet engine will be the most efficient, and is offered with a manual gearbox and front-wheel-drive. Jeep also offers a larger 2.0-litre diesel unit, which is again offered with outputs of 138bhp or 168bhp. Manual and front-wheel-drive comes with the less powerful choice, with the 168bhp paired to four-wheel-drive and an auto ‘box.
The 168bhp petrol engine is the quickest, as it’s able to accelerate from 0-60mph in 9.3 seconds, and can reach a claimed top speed of 124mph. If you’re looking for efficiency, the 1.6-litre diesel is the best option — returning up to 48mpg, with CO2 emissions of 134g/km.
Ride and handling
The Jeep Compass feels more competent, but lacks the sporty spirit of rivals, which is shown through plenty of body roll. The car can also start to feel a bit unsettled at higher speeds. If you spent a lot of your time driving around town, the ride can feel overly firm, too.
However, out of town the ride is far more composed, while there is a pleasing weight to the steering that you don’t tend to find in many of its rivals.
But where the Compass stands out is with its off-roading ability — particularly with the range-topping Trailhawk version, which adds extra off-road traction, which you just don’t find from other cars in this class.See Available Compass deals
Interior and equipment
While Jeep has undoubtedly taken the Compass further upmarket in this latest iteration, it still doesn’t feel particularly premium inside. But there’s a rugged and sturdy feel to it, which sets it aside from many other cars in its class.
The new Uconnect touchscreen is also a great addition to the Compass as it’s simple to use, well laid-out and very intuitive, and is one of the best systems fitted to any model under the FCA umbrella. It also offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring.
It might not be the most spacious car in its class, but it’s an ideal size for a family car, with plenty of passenger room in the rear and a 438-litre boot — though the latter is nearly 100 litres smaller than the Peugeot 3008.
An impressive five trim levels are offered on the Compass, and each is well-equipped for the price. The entry-level Sport features LED rear lights, cruise control, a five-inch touchscreen with DAB radio and Bluetooth and automatic lights and wipers. The Longitude adds additional chrome, ambient LED interior lighting, keyless entry and start and a larger 8.4-inch touchscreen incorporating smartphone mirroring and a reversing camera.
The special edition Night Eagle adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a black styling pack and half-leather seats, while the popular Limited grade brings LED headlights, electrically operated and heated leather seats, as well as blind spot monitoring and park assist. At the top of the range is the Trailhawk, which is clearly aimed at the off-road market. It adds a more rugged styling pack, off-road tyres, raised suspension and hill descent control to name but a few features.
The Compass range starts from an affordable £23,760, which gets you an appealing and practical compact SUV. We would recommend upgrading to the mid-spec Longitude, though, thanks to its additional luxuries and more stylish look. However, the range-topping Trailhawk model is expensive, and difficult to recommend unless you need that off-roading ability on a regular basis.
The Compass is a great addition to Jeep’s range, and it slots neatly in the off-road centric range of this American manufacturer.
There’s lots of engines, plenty of trim level choice and excels in its ability to be excellent off-road. It’s not a class-leading model, and there are rivals with better interiors and more enjoyable drives, but it’s an interesting left-field option to other established SUVs.