Jeep Compass Review – The compass to take you wherever you want
To be launched in India soon, here is our detailed drive report with photos and videos of the new Jeep Compass.
SUV is the most loved genre of cars in India. So much so, that manufacturers have gone great lengths to make SUVs at really low prices to allure buyers. But Jeep, worldwide, has quintessentially been the epitome of creating the best off-roading sports utility vehicles in the world.
They came to our country to shake the market but alas, by the virtue of import duties in our country the company was anything but a hit (Wrangler and Grand Cherokee launch prices). Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) India are about to change that by launching their first locally manufactured SUV into the country, the Jeep Compass. We went to Goa to see if it really truly lives up to its hype of being the most incredible SUV we’ve ever had.
New Jeep Compass is a compact SUV. It is 4395 mm long, 1818 mm wide, 1640 mm tall and has a ground clearance of 155 mm. From the face of it, it looks like a squeezed Grand Cherokee. A wide 7 slot grill in the front buttered with sleek looking headlamps with a Cherokee like day time running LED strip and those dotted details on the main lamp lens. Bumper area is huge with incredible amount of space for air intake, the large black cladding suggesting its off-roading credentials and minimalistic chrome details that we Indians just love.
The thick black plastic cladding wraps the Compass around the sides too, complemented by some rather tasteful trapezoidal wheel arches thought straight out of Jeep’s legendary line up of SUVs. Compass is written in big fat fonts (as is seen in other Jeep branded cars) accentuating the front doors, also what highlights the side profile of the Compass it the chrome strip, part Jeep’s design addition and part Indian consumer demand, it starts at the tip of the side rear view mirror and wraps around through the roof and creating a kink at the rear three quarters.
It really makes the car look richer. Also, it creates a visible border line for the dual colour scheme available on the ‘Limited’ trim. I like the way the chrome strip creates a shark fin effect on the D pillar and creates a sense of the dual personality that this car has.
At the rear, there are a set of beautiful looking flushed tail lamps with an LED strip that gives it the right amount of sex appeal at the rear. I like the way 4×4 has been plastered in huge fonts flashing the fact that this is no ordinary SUV. Also, unlike its German rivals, it has two fog lamps at the rear, no cost cutting whatsoever. The paint quality is astonishing, the shut lines are tight and the muscle lines all over the car makes it look very tempting indeed.
The ground clearance is an impressive 220mm off the ground, but the specification sheet suggests 155mm but that is due to the new legislation passed by the testing authorities (ARAI) to have the ground clearance measured with 400 kilograms of weight onboard. The aerodynamics of the Compass would be the last thing the buyer would be interested in but as tested it has the least drag coefficient among all its competition making it supremely aerodynamically efficient.
On the inside the Jeep Compass packs an equally good surprise. The layout of the dashboard isn’t flamboyant but very functional. It is the squeezed down design of the new Grand Cherokee and it is a big praise for a car of this size. Jeep made sure that the quality of materials and fit and finish of the Compass are uncompromised. The plastics are manufactured through a negative vacuum process which makes them softer to touch and durable over the period of time and crude usage.
The surface of the dashboard is non-reflective and helps driving in those excessively sunny days. The interiors are black and greige which essentially is a desaturated tone of beige but much brighter. The steering is thick and good to hold and feels like a straight lift from the Abarth 595 which is one of our favourite hot hatches.
The instrument dials are large and easy to read. They also boast a high-resolution screen which displays all of the driver’s information and strangely, also displays reserve battery level. This is done to prevent the driver from running out of battery power using the accessories without running the engine.
I like the way the central console does not intrude in the driver’s legroom and is indeed a boon for long journeys. The shut lines are perfect and the button for different functions all over the car feel sublime to use. The door trim, although basic in design is incredibly detailed. There is fluffy armrest on the doors with red stitching.
There are brushed aluminium surroundings around the speakers and even inside the bottle holders there is soft touch plastics. At night, one can notice the ambient lighting in the door trims and roof which reflects the ivory upholstery quite beautifully.
The seats, Ahh, the seats. I say so because they are one of the most comfortable and well cushioned seats in the industry. The contouring and bolstering are absolutely brilliant. If you are cruising or you are attacking corners the seats would keep you well snugged in one place. The centre arm rest is wide and fluffy and can be adjusted for reach. The gear knob has a double cream smooth brushed aluminium finish which looks and feels great.
The interior rear-view mirror is rimless and looks futuristic. But it only looks so as the day and night adjustments are manual. There is a new uConnect 7-inch infotainment system which, yes, has a compass. There isn’t any internal navigation software but it does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity wherein you can use Apple or Google maps respectively. (sadly Apple does not provide Maps support via Carplay as yet.)
The sound quality from the speakers is impeccable and one of the best in the business. They have deep, vibration free bass and multi-channel distribution for the three-dimensional sound effect. The touch feedback isn’t that great though but it is a very functional and easy to use system altogether. The rear seats are equally well cushioned, and have ample support for two passengers. Third adult would be a tight squeeze as the transmission tunnel is quite intrusive into the legroom at the rear.
There are air-conditioning vents at the rear but since the Compass has a dual zone climate control there aren’t any separate settings for temperature and fan control. Right below the air-con vents is the USB port rather than a conventional 12v charging socket. But this USB port acts as a charging point for smartphones as well as a second Media transfer port for the infotainment system.
The headroom at the rear is generous and can accommodate 6 footers with ease. The only drawback is the upright rear seats which do not recline any further than its default position. The boot is average size and can easily accommodate luggage of 4 passengers on a week-long trip and not a wardrobe.
The car at our disposal is fitted with the brand new 2.0 litre turbocharged MultiJet diesel engine which produces a healthy 171 bhp and 350 Nm of torque. The new turbocharger has a lightweight propeller which translated to boost available at as low a 1750rpm. This unit is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission with short throws and a very smooth shift pattern.
It accelerates from standstill with ease but the first gear ratio is a little shorter and is purely for off-road crawling. Rev too much with the first gear in place and you would run out of steam quicker than you should. The straight-line acceleration though is quick and the engine is very responsive to throttle inputs.
The 4WD system by default is biased to front wheel drive and it engages the clutch in an event of slip or when 4WD lock is selected. The steering feel is incredible and it feels more hydraulic as we go up the speed limits. There is a lot mechanical grip in the new Compass thanks to its wonderful Firestone tires.
The Compass feels as agile as a cat chasing its prey, in sudden change of direction the car hunkers down to and handles incredibly good. This handling characteristic is courtesy the potent suspension setup with multiple valves that act to create damping in different suspension travel situations.
Jeep has also made the NVH levels of the car to be suited for daily drives in India, there is a double insulation layer between the engine and cabin to minimise vibrations and engine noise also the wheel wells have been properly insulated to cut off any sort of road noise no matter what terrain you are on.
At night, the driving experience through the rather dark forests of Goa was easy. The interiors are generously lit with the ambient lighting and the bi-xenon headlamps have a far-fetched throw and spread which is quite easy on the eyes whilst driving long distances.
Points to Note
– The Compass comes with 6 airbags, ABS, EBD,TCS and ESC as standard.
– There are buttons behind the steering wheel for changing the tracks and adjusting volume of the infotainment system.
– Sound system is the best that we’ve heard so far.
– The Off-Road ability is truly astonishing and leave the competition behind.
– Brakes are very good and have a good bite.
– There is a space saver spare wheel under the boot floor.
– There is no sunroof in the Indian version of the Compass. But Jeep India officials said that if the demand is there, it will be no problem for them to add a variant with sunroof in the market.
– No cruise control on the manual ‘Limited’ variant we tested.
– Petrol engine with 7 speed dual clutch transmission to be launched later this year.
Jeep has been creating a lot of hype about the Compass ever since it was introduced in the global market. And after driving it, we have really fallen short of good adjectives to describe how incredible this machine is. A brilliantly executed quintessential urban SUV and as is suggested by its size that can really put some thoroughbred 4×4 SUVs in India to shame. It is well kitted, as safe as a vault and drives like an excited pony. We love it and hence we suggest you to lay your hands on one after its launch in August.