From £22,9957
Provides a well-equipped plug-in hybrid alternative in a busy but samey market sector

What is it?

Despite the fact that the UK is very much Land Rover’s home turf, Britons have long had a soft spot for Jeeps. Some say it goes right back to the age-old reputation for ruggedness of wartime editions that still ply our roads in summer.

Whatever the reason, the British reception of the new Jeep Compass, with its all-new interior and new 237bhp plug-in hybrid powertrain, looks like being the warmest yet.

This soft-roader seems to have just about everything going for it. It lands in the UK’s biggest market sector (C-segment SUVs), which accounted for a thriving 22% of sales in 2021 and is predicted to grab more like 26% in 2022. Jeep UK’s bosses also expect it to be better built and much easier to order than the previous model, because production has been moved from India to Italy.

Best of all, the leading variants in the range – the off-road-focused Trailhawk and the plusher S – are both powered by the PHEV powertrain, which lobs them into a category for which British demand has doubled in a year. Throw in a better-designed interior, distinctively Jeep styling, lots of equipment and keen pricing (the full-house S we tested costs £40,895) and you have a highly competitive entry. It needs to be, mind you, because the Germans, Japanese and Koreans are extremely serious about this market and buyers have well over a dozen strong options.

Although manufacturing has moved halfway across the world, the Compass is easily recognisable from the model that went out of production in the second half of last year. (In another piece of luck, Jeep UK built up its stocks of the outgoing model, so the 1700 examples it sold here to October 2021 were in easy supply.)

What's it like?

The new range consists of four models. The entry-level Nighteagle and slightly plusher Limited both come with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox and are powered by a conventional 129bhp 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine. They cost £29,895 and £30,895 respectively.

The Trailhawk (£39,895) and S are four-wheel-drive PHEVs with a 178bhp version of the same engine allied to an electric motor on the rear axle to make the full 237bhp. They have a six-speed automatic gearbox.

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The pricing policy is simple to understand: you pay an extra £10,000 to get four-wheel drive, an automatic transmission and a PHEV set-up that practically doubles the power and cuts the official CO2 emissions by around two-thirds (from 152-159g/km to 44-47g/km).

Best of all, you get around 30 miles of electric-only range from an 11.4kWh battery, plus a helpful choice of driving modes: electric-only, set-and-forget hybrid and one that enables you to keep some charge for later use in EV-only zones.

The new Compass is a pleasant and capable car, although in some areas it lacks the polish of its competitors. The powertrain feels strong (it’ll hit 62mph in 7.5sec), but there are minor hesitations in the power delivery and the gearchanges that mean it isn’t as seamless to drive as the others. The engine can be a little slow to respond and sounds disappointingly puny when working hard, too.

The handling is easy and capable, with steering that’s relatively high-geared around the straight-ahead making the car easy to manoeuvre. It’s nicely weighted and accurate, too. There’s a bias towards understeer in tight corners, but the ride is comfortable and well damped.

On test, the Compass gave a very decent account of itself on a medium-difficult off-road course, showing that it had the right traction and body clearances for the job.

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Should I buy one?

In all, this is a welcome return for a model that has a distinctive persona among a raft of good but samey entrants in a very busy market sector.

It’s decent to drive while plainly not being the class best. But for its cheerful, uncomplicated demeanour and excellent equipment-to-price ratio, it well deserves consideration.

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artill 7 December 2021

I agree that Jeep in the UK prices have gone through the roof in the last decade, although its probably true of most car prices , but more so. A Wrangler is around double the price it was 10 years ago, but how much inflation have we had? 20%, 25% maybe.

Over £40k for a small Jeep (which is really a Fiat) is madness (but surely just for CoCar drivers). But even £30k for a front driver seems an awful lot of money. 

ianp55 7 December 2021

What's happend to Jeep in the UK in the past decade or so,at the start of the millenium the Cherokee & Cherokee Chief were popular choices but now these models are no longer on sale in the UK (but still on sale in the US) the Gladiator pick up and the full size Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer haven't come here either? Prices have gone through the roof as well ,an entry level price of almost £30k for the Compass Night Eagle is ambitious to say the least when there are so much better alternatives on sale

ianp55 7 December 2021

What's happend to Jeep in the UK in the past decade or so,at the start of the millenium the Cherokee & Cherokee Chief were popular choices but now these models are no longer on sale in the UK (but still on sale in the US) the Gladiator pick up and the full size Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer haven't come here either? Prices have gone through the roof as well ,an entry level price of almost £30k for the Compass Night Eagle is ambitious to say the least when there are so much better alternatives on sale