From £18,1254

The Jeep Compass is an important model for the ‘all-American’ brand. The facelifted version was the first Jeep to be built since parent company Chrysler merged with Fiat. It is also one of the first Jeeps to be sold outside America without all-wheel drive. It also fills the gap left by the discontinued Patriot.

The range starts at £17,000, but that buys a slightly breathless 2.0-litre petrol unit. Better to spend a little more and get a 134bhp diesel.

We tested the 161bhp 2.2-litre CRD 4x4 Limited model, with a turbodiesel sourced from Mercedes-Benz. It’s about £1500 cheaper than an equivalent Volkswagen Tiguan or Ford Kuga, and that price difference becomes even more significant when spec-adjusted – leather upholstery, heated electric front seats and Bluetooth are all standard on the Limited.

Jeep says two-thirds of all Compass sales will be fitted with this engine in one of two outputs, the other being 134bhp. It is an in-line four supplied by Mercedes and developed for the Compass, but don’t expect Merc levels of refinement – its clattery at idle and intrusive when pushed hard through the six-speed manual.

The petrol units are variations on Chrysler’s World Engines, and are available in 2.0- or 2.4-litre capacities, the former with a five-speed manual and the latter with a CVT auto. Either way, they're edge cases as far as the percentage of sales go.

The 161bhp 2.2 and the 2.4 petrol engines both feature an active four-wheel-drive system with a locking mode. Power is shifted from front to rear using an electronically controlled clutch. The 2.0-litre petrol is offered only in a front-wheel-drive configuration, the 2.4-litre as four-wheel drive only and 2.2 models are available in both.

There are soft-touch plastics on the doors and centre cubby, but the rest of the fascia feels low-rent and is easily scratched, giving a general impression of mediocre material quality. There’s plenty of head and legroom for adults in the back.

The Compass carries a new grille – although the trademark seven-slat arrangement remains. The headlights, bonnet and front bumper are also new, and give a more upmarket, expensive look.

New management or not, the Jeep Compass is a more old-fashioned kind of 4x4 than a Ford Kuga or Nissan Qashqai. To those who like their off-roaders to feel tough and robust, it could appeal, but on this evidence the Compass lacks the polish to significantly broaden Jeep’s reach and improve its sales fortunes..

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LS 500h
    First Drive
    14 December 2017
    New flagship saloon from Lexus provides a luxury interior to rival the best but comes up short due to its hybrid powertrain
  • Volkswagen T-Roc 1.0 TSI SE
    First Drive
    14 December 2017
    Volkswagen's has high aspirations for its new crossover be the best in class and then some. We've driven the 1.0 TSI T-Roc out in the UK to see if it's as good as Wolfsburg says
  • Dacia Sandero Stepway LPG
    First Drive
    14 December 2017
    We’re familiar with the Sandero – it’s the cheap fuel that really intrigues us. We’ve sourced a dual-fuel Dacia to determine whether running a car on LPG is practical in Britain
  • Ford Mondeo ST-Line
    First Drive
    13 December 2017
    The Mondeo ST-Line marries sporty styling with that car's signature dynamism to make a rather appealing package designed for private buyers
  • Audi RS4 Avant
    First Drive
    12 December 2017
    The Audi RS4 Avant covers ground like few, if any, other estate cars, but it doesn’t involve you all that much in the process