13 August 2018

Review: Jeep Compass

The new, second generation Jeep Compass went on sale here at the start of this year priced from €27,995-€41,995, writes Trish Whelan. It competes in the important mid-size Crossover/SUV category and is a huge step up on the previous model.

It fits into the Jeep range between the compact Renegade SUV and the Cherokee. 

Apart from 4WD, Compass is also now available in FWD for those owners who rarely, if ever, venture far from the tarmac.

People still refer to SUVs or crossovers as ‘Jeeps’ such is the legendary status of the brand which is famous for its 4x4s and off-road abilities.

From the outside, new Compass looks a toughie that would look equally as good on town streets as when showing its more adventurous side off-road. However, it is immediately recognisable as a Jeep with the seven-slot grille and the trapezoidal wheel arches, and car’s wide stance and muscular arches. 

My car came in a very smart looking white Pearlescent colour and contrasting black roof - a colour for sophisticated urban owners and not for 4x4 people who like to get their cars muddy at weekends or for field work.

Open the door and the roomy interior is really a big step up in style, fit and finish. 

Deep side doors help keep the sills clean in inclement weather so prevent your clothes from getting dirty when getting in and out. There are overhead hand grips over each door. 

I like the style of the cockpit which featured an 8.4-inch full colour instrument cluster on my Limited edition that is quite easy to find your way around. This is the Uconnect infotainment / navigation system offered for the first time in a Jeep SUV. 

A niggle, though, was the very low positioning of the temperature controls which means taking your eye off the road while you look down to adjust them. 

My first job in a new test car is usually to raise my seat and pull it forward for a good driving position and I was able to feel so snug behind the wheel here. Comfy big black leather seats have the word Jeep on them and the driver’s one comes with many electronic adjustments to ensure you can get a good driving position. 

There’s good legroom for tall people in the rear, great for long journeys. All round visibility is good too with the high level of glass to metal ratio. 

The boot floor is high and there’s an extra side area to the left and a 12V socket. Luggage space of 438 litres with rear seats up is good and is expandable to 1,251 with rear ones down. There’s a spare wheel below which isn’t in the standard spec. 

But this is an extremely well-specced family crossover or SUV and I believe offers good value for money which will be a selling point if owners Fiat can get people to take a test drive in the car. 

Trims are Sport, Longitude and Limited. 

Key standard equipment for the entry level includes 16-inch alloys, LED tail lights, six airbags, leather steering wheel with audio controls, air con, cruise control, forward collision warning plus, lane departure warning, an electric handbrake, and a 60/40 split folding rear seat.

Longitude adds 17-inch alloys, front fogs, rear park distance control, Parkview reversing camera, keyless entry, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and the new Uconnect 8.4-inch infotainment / navigation system. 

The top of the range Limited trim adds 18-inch alloys, leather upholstery, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, heated steering wheel, privacy glass, front and rear sensors, blind spot monitor with rear cross path detection and parallel and perpendicular park assist which just about cover every aspect of parking to help keep you safe; Bluetooth, 8 loud speakers and subwoofer in the boot. The leather multifunction steering wheel can be heated, and the driver’s seat also gets memory functions.

There are USB and Aux in slots on the centre console lower as well as a 12V socket.

The Irish engine range includes three diesels and a petrol 1.4 MultiAir Turbo engine delivering 140hp with the six-speed manual gearbox and FWD (4x2) configuration. 

Diesels are the 1.6 MultiJet engine outputting 120hp as well as a 2.0 MultiJet engine delivering 140hp; both are mated to the six-speed manual gearbox, with the latter coming in 4x4 configuration. A higher output version of the 2.0 MultiJet engine with 170hp with the nine-speed automatic transmission and 4x4 configuration completes the engine offerings. 

My car was the manual 1.6 NM-Jet 120hp FWD ‘Limited’ top spec version with a top speed of 185km/h; and peak torque of 320Nm at 1,750 rpm; 0-100km/h in 11.0; and annual road tax of €200. The official combined fuel consumption is 4.4 L/100kms; but when I returned the car to Jeep I noted 6.4 L/100kms on the trip computer. The basic price of the car was €34,695 but some extras like the pearlescent paint (€1,400), the HID Bi-xenon headlights (€1,000), the full size spare (€350) and a Style pack of 19-inch Diamond cut alloy wheels (€900) took this to €38,345. 

While I enjoyed the drive, I found the engine a bit noisy at low speeds around town. The car performed well around town, and on the motorway so no complaints there at all.  

The new Compass, built in India, has been awarded a maximum 5-star safety rating from Euro NCAP and comes with over 70 active and passive safety and security features. One such is the Blind Spot Alert on the side mirrors when an orange triangle warns of cars coming up from behind - you also get an audio alert. 

Towing capacity for the 1.6 120hp version is 1000kg (braked); 1900kg for the 2.0 140hp, and 1500 for the 2.0 170hp 9-speed automatic.

Rivals include the Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, VW Tiguan.