From £18,1256
The new Jeep Compass enters an ultra-competitive market. It'll need to be an improvement on the previous Compass if the compact SUV is to compete with the Volkswagen Tiguan and Seat Ateca

Our Verdict

Jeep Compass

The Jeep Compass is a rebadged version of the old Dodge Caliber. It is a poor Kuga or Qashqai alternative by most measures

16 June 2017

What is it?

The Jeep Compass is the brand’s new entrant, or re-entrant, in the most competitive SUV category of all – the compact crossover segment.

Despite its SUV-heavy heritage, the brand hasn’t had a rival to the likes of the Nissan QashqaiVolkswagen Tiguan and Seat Ateca since 2015, when the last Compass was quietly withdrawn from sale.

Jeep has enjoyed recent success with the smaller Renegade, and hopes to sell more of its new entrant in a segment that is expected to account for 300,000 sales in 2017 – the Compass is predicted to sell more than the 14,000 Renegades units that were sold in 2016. The Compass is based on a slightly longer version of the platform that underpins the Renegade, which also makes it a relative of the Fiat 500X.

UK buyers have a bit longer to wait until they can get into the Compass, however. Although it first appeared in production form at the 2016 Los Angeles motor show, and then in European spec at Geneva in 2017, the Compass doesn’t go on sale in the UK until January 2018.

Because of this, we also have a little longer to wait for pricing and UK performance and economy stats, all of which are set to be confirmed in autumn of this year.

As well as the standard, more road-oriented version that is expected to account for the majority of sales in the UK, Jeep is also offering the Trailhawk, a more hardcore version with higher ground clearance and more off-road tech.

The standard version is likely to make up a greater proportion of sales, though, and comes with the mid-range diesel engine, all-wheel-drive technology and a nine-speed automatic gearbox.

What's it like?

Although Jeep took a relatively daring step with the Renegade’s styling, it has played it much safer with the Compass. The trademark Jeep elements remain, such as the large, seven-slot front grille and a bespoke set of front and trapezoidal wheel arches. There are fewer in the way of striking features to grab the eye, although it looks smart, with the contrast colour roof a particular highlight.

Inside, the dash is dominated by the new Uconnect infotainment system, which features an 8.4in touchscreen (lesser models come with a 5.0in or 7.0in version) that controls the navigation, entertainment and other in-cabin heating systems. It is a bit fiddly to use, mainly because most things are operated by touchscreen alone, although a large volume dial and manual air conditioning controls below are welcome additions, even if it does mean a large number of buttons to navigate.

The seats are comfortable and supportive, and offer a wide range of adjustment, and there's a good visibility from the driver's seat. A reversing camera and all-round parking sensors are available, but the latter are very quick to intervene, which makes the Compass a noisy drive through tight urban areas.

The space in the back is a mixed bag. Shoulder room is good, and visibility is decent but the panoramic sunroof severely cuts into head room for adults, which means you’ll end up slouching into what is a generous amount of leg room.

The boot comes with a good amount of room, too, with a floor that can be set on three levels. Drop it all the way down and you get 438 litres of space – better than the Qashqai's 430-litre boot but short of the Volkswagen Tiguan’s 615 litres. It’s not perfect – removing the parcel shelf is a complicated affair and the seats can only be dropped from the side doors. 

Jeep is keen to stress the Compass’s off-road ability, and the car dealt admirably with the limited off-roading we subjected it to, but the firm recognises that it will spend most of its time on the road - and this is where it is a bit compromised. The 138bhp engine pulls well, but is noisy and harsh under hard acceleration in a way that rivals aren’t. The nine-speed automatic gearbox isn’t as smooth as you’d hope, either; it changes down with a noticeable clunk that you would associate with a 'box with far fewer cogs.

The steering is also very light – that's good at low speeds, but less reassuring on the motorway. Add some wallowing body roll around corners and the Compass isn’t as composed on the road as the likes of the Seat Ateca. It does mean that it settles down to a comfortable cruise on the motorway, even if harsh potholes will send a jolt through the cabin at lower speeds.

Should I buy one?

Although the Jeep Compass’s final emissions and economy figures are yet to be announced, the European equivalents suggest that opting for the automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive comes at a cost – this version is likely to emit around 10g/km more CO2 than the manual. 

A manual gearbox with the smaller diesel engine or one of the petrols is likely to make a lot more sense than this version when pricing and stats are confirmed.

The Compass might not be the biggest, most composed crossover on the road, or the most efficient, but its off-road capability will be an attractive option for many.

Location Lisbon, Portugal; On sale January 2018; Price £31,000 (est); Engine 4 cyls, 1956cc, turbocharged, diesel; Power 138bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 258lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 9-spd auto; Kerb weight 1816kg; Top speed 122mph; 0-62mph 10.1sec; Economy 49.6mpg (combined, est); CO2/tax band 148g/km (est); Rivals Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan

Tom Webster

Join the debate

Comments
21

16 June 2017
All those short comings, gearbox, engine, steering etc and this model comes in at £31k est, ouch. Still if value was based on price per kilo it's pretty cheap.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

16 June 2017
Also if it's based on a stretched 500x platform that in turn was based on the Grande Punto platform it means it can trace its chassis routes back to the 2006 Corsa and Punto...... and Peugeot Bipper van, Nemo van, Fiorino Van, and a host of others....

16 June 2017
Why do Chrysler and Jeep vehicles with this transmission always get criticised for the shift quality, but Land Rover products using essentially the same unit don't? Have LR really made it work better, or are they being given a bit of a free pass??

16 June 2017
March1 wrote:

Why do Chrysler and Jeep vehicles with this transmission always get criticised for the shift quality, but Land Rover products using essentially the same unit don't? Have LR really made it work better, or are they being given a bit of a free pass??

Autocar giving JLR cars a free pass? Never in a million years. Now go wash your tongue for making such a scurrilous accusation.

Back to the article, although I don't really care for SUVs in general, I don't mind the look of this!

16 June 2017
To my eyes the looks work. Not saying I'm about to get one.

17 June 2017
March1 wrote:

Why do Chrysler and Jeep vehicles with this transmission always get criticised for the shift quality, but Land Rover products using essentially the same unit don't? Have LR really made it work better, or are they being given a bit of a free pass??

ZF make the basic gearbox but the installation and software mapping is down to each company that buys it. And JLR are not being given any kind of free pass - while their 9-Speed installation is excellent, their use of the ZF 8-Speed is considered by Autocar to be less effective than BMW's installation.

16 June 2017
Probably explains a bit wallowing ride - if that means other-vice comfortable ride with good bump absorbency. That might actually be quite acceptable compromise for what's primarily going to be a family mobile. The engine probably isn't harsh if persons avoid the upper reaches of the reeve counter. In addition, transmission clunk noted by tester - may not be noticeable much when the car is driven the way most families probably will, when the car contains the kids and other family detritus. Most likely it's in it's comfort zone exactly when transporting the small uns and their things. Meaning most of the time a family owner drives it.

16 June 2017
Even with the not so enthusiastic review, the obvious omission is, naturally for reviews, reliability. If FCA Group stays with dubious reliability record, the vestiges of enthusiasm will totally evaporate.

16 June 2017
Interesting comment above on gearshift quality.

To me it's just the natural journo bias.

A car has a firm ride unless it's a BMW where it becomes a sporty ride.

A car has hard plastics that are not 'golf' level but the same in a VW would be tough and utilitarian

A cvt gearbox is whiny and rubber band like but become smooth and linear if it is in an Audi.

16 June 2017
Camoron wrote:

Interesting comment above on gearshift quality.

To me it's just the natural journo bias.

A car has a firm ride unless it's a BMW where it becomes a sporty ride.

A car has hard plastics that are not 'golf' level but the same in a VW would be tough and utilitarian

A cvt gearbox is whiny and rubber band like but become smooth and linear if it is in an Audi.

I am not alone in noticing this then.

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