Jeep Compass Trailhawk is capable, great value and a huge advancement over the old model. But there’s still room for improvement.
What is it?
What’s it cost?
The Jeep Compass range kicks off with the Compass Sport front-wheel drive manual from $28,950 and extends all the way to the Compass Trailhawk 4×4 diesel, which has a recommended retail price of $44,750 plus on roads and other government charges.
While the price may seem a little steep, the Compass Trailhawk is crammed with equipment. You get a dual range 4×4 system with a variety of different terrain settings, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, satellite navigation, heated leather seats, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, xenon headlamps and much, more.
What’s it go like?
Generally speaking, the Compass Trailhawk isn’t a bad thing to drive. It feels light and compact and the steering relatively communicative, too. The ride is relatively compliant and there weren’t too many road imperfections that filtered through to the cabin.
What was irksome, though, was the lane keep assist system. It was simply too aggressive, snatching the steering from the driver as they gently fed the car through bends, whilst remaining within the lines.
The Compass Trailhawk is only offered with one engine, a 2.0 litre turbo diesel that produces 125kW @ 3750rpm and 350Nm @ 1750rpm that drives power to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic.
Acceleration from a standing start is relaxed, but performance is commendable when on the move, with decent rolling acceleration for overtaking or tackling obstacles off-road.
The Compass Trailhawk’s off-road capabilities give it a unique position in an SUV segment where offerings are traditionally road-focused.
The nine-speed automatic is a mixed bag. It generally swaps cogs competently, but we did find on the odd occasion that it did hold ratios for a little longer than we would have liked.
Similarly, the diesel engine is a little gruff, with noticeable clatter from idle and across the rev range. Vibration levels aren’t too bad though, and once you’re on the move the Compass’ cabin is relatively quiet.
Jeep cites an average combined fuel consumption figure of 5.7 litres, however we managed around 8.5 litres on the combined cycle.
What’s it like inside?
Honey! I shrunk the Grand Cherokee! Much like the exterior, Jeep has turned to the Grand Cherokee for the new Compass interior. And at first glance, that’s not a bad thing – smooth, curvaceous lines, reasonable materials and an acceptable amount of space up front.
The digital instrument cluster is great, too. Not only are the graphics crisp and clear, but the system allows the driver to tailor the information displayed on the screen to their own personal preferences. It’s quite thoughtful, however, it can take a bit of fiddly via the steering wheel mounted buttons to achieve your desired settings.
And that’s the thing, while Jeep has developed an impressive instrument cluster, they seem to have dropped the ball when it comes to ergonomics. A key gripe was the seat heating controls. The seat heaters themselves were fine, toasting your rump nicely on a bitter winter’s morning. But to access the controls you need to turn on the touch screen which also turns on the sound system which can be a little counterintuitive and fiddly, as the infotainment system needs to be on for access.
It’s a similar story with the buttons on the steering wheel. The buttons to control the volume (there’s a mute button too) and change tracks are located on the back of the steering wheel.
All these things become second nature in time, but we just can’t help thinking that Jeep could’ve found better ways to execute these functions.
The infotainment system itself is great though, with simple navigation and large, clear icons. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for added convenience and the stereo packs plenty of punch.
Cabin fit and finish is generally fine, but from a concerning squeak and groan emanating from the back of the dashboard.
In terms of rear accommodation, leg room is acceptable, but passengers over six foot may find their heads pressed up against the roof lining. Unlike the previous model, though, you should be able to get three people across the rear bench without too much drama.
What we like:
- Equipment levels
- Only car in its class with proper 4×4
What we don’t:
- Squeaks and groans
- Diesel can be noisy
- Seats are a little flat and unsupportive
- Silly execution of some features
Sale or no sale?
The new Jeep Compass is a huge improvement over the previous generation. And Jeep is clever to offer a compact SUV with proper off-road ability, so they may have carved themselves a niche market and the value and tech on the Trailhawk is genuinely impressive.