What Car? says...
Like the helpful navigation tool it’s named after, the Jeep Compass shows where the American brand is heading.
Jeep has always played heavily on its proud off-roading pedigree, and doesn’t want you to forget it. That's why the Compass has a cute little motif in the windscreen of a post-war 4x4 ‘climbing’ the roof pillar.
In reality, though, this model is competing in the family SUV market that the Nissan Qashqai made so popular. With that in mind, the Compass is softer and more family-oriented than most of its stablemates, straying into the territory of, for example, the Range Rover Evoque and the Volvo XC40.
Like the XC40, the Compass is no longer available as a diesel: the range has moved over to petrol power, and there are two engines to choose from: a mild hybrid and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). Only the PHEV comes with four-wheel drive.
In this Jeep Compass review, we’ll tell you what the performance is like, how practical it is, and whether it has what it takes to compete against the best small SUVs.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Jeep Compass range starts with the e-Hybrid, with a 128bhp 1.5-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine, an automatic gearbox and front-wheel drive. With an official 0-62mph time of 10.0 seconds, it matches the similarly powerful Peugeot 3008 for pace but has nothing on even the least powerful Range Rover Evoque.
The PHEV model – called the 4xe – has a more palatable 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds (and also gets an auto gearbox), but despite the combined efforts of its 1.3-litre petrol engine and an electric motor to deliver up to 237bhp, it never feels that swift.
It's fine trundling around town on electricity alone, but the hybrid system always seems to be holding back at higher speeds to improve economy. You have to put your foot down really hard before it gives you all its potential, which is annoying when joining a motorway or attempting to overtake.
The Compass's on-road manners are similarly uninspiring, and it feels unsettled by even slight road imperfections. Over bigger bumps, it doesn't have the compliant, comfortable ride you get in, say the Nissan Qashqai, the Skoda Karoq or the Peugeot 3008.
The steering is especially poor, feeling too light and disconcertingly vague. That's not such a problem for town driving, but at higher speeds it robs you of confidence – as does the fact that there's a fair bit of body roll in corners.
Wind and road noise are average for a family SUV, but engine refinement is sadly lacking in comparison. When the 4xe's engine has to kick in, it does so abruptly and with plenty of vibration at idle through the steering wheel. You'd expect that from an old diesel, but not in a modern PHEV.
Speaking of the PHEV, a regenerative braking function helps charge up the battery as you slow down, but the switch over to the mechanical brakes can be a bit sudden at low speeds. Sometimes it feels as though the car will do an emergency stop by nose-planting into the ground if you don't ease off the pedal.
Strengths Average levels of road and wind noise; decent acceleration
Weaknesses Unsettled ride; numb steering; unrefined engine
The interior layout, fit and finish
You get plenty of adjustment for the Jeep Compass's front seats and steering wheel to allow the driver to get comfortable. What’s more, if you go for S trim, that adjustment is done electrically and you get adjustable lumbar support.
Visibility is good, with a high driving position that offers a decent vantage point over the bonnet, not unlike what you’ll find in the Range Rover Evoque.
Unfortunately, that’s where the similarities end, and the Compass doesn't match the Evoque's simplified interior design. You do at least get the newest version of Jeep’s UConnect infotainment system, displayed on a crisp 10in touchscreen.
The software is simple to use, but annoyingly, the screen layout hasn’t been reversed to suit right-hand drive, and because the screen is tilted away from the driver, some functions are a real stretch to get to. You get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring – but the buttons you interact with still require a massive stretch to reach them.
The rest of the Compass interior is a bit too convoluted and cluttered because of all the knobs and buttons. Normally we’d be praising the presence of physical controls, but the haphazard way they're grouped takes some time to get used to.
For instance, the air-con controls share the same space as the ones for the stereo and, weirdly, the screen on/off button. The 4xe gets a row of controls below that to switch between modes, but the button to increase regeneration when you lift off the accelerator is miles away from them, next to the infotainment screen. The Ford Kuga has a much more cohesive layout.
What’s more, the Compass can’t even match the far less expensive Skoda Karoq for interior quality. Yes, there are some squidgy materials across the top of the dashboard and door cards, but the texture looks like it was modelled on rhino skin and feels just as rough. The rest of the materials feel cheap, especially the hollow-sounding indicator and wiper stalks.
Strengths Simple infotainment software; high driving position
Weaknesses Poor interior quality; inconvenient layout; no lumbar support unless you go for the top trim
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Things are far more promising here, because the Jeep Compass offers the driver and front passenger generous head, shoulder and leg room.
The car is 7cm longer between its front and rear wheels than the Jeep Renegade and that helps rear passengers greatly, offering a couple of adults good leg room. Be wary of opting for a sunroof, though, because it reduces head room a lot.
Unlike the slightly larger and similarly priced Peugeot 5008, which gets rear seats that slide and recline independently, the Compass has a rear bench that doesn’t do anything particularly special. Most versions get rear seats that fold in a 60/40 split, but if you go for the S or Trailhawk trim, that’s upgraded to a more versatile 40/20/40 split.
The Compass's boot has an adjustable floor, and maximum luggage capacity in the e-Hybrid – at 438 litres – is marginally higher than in the Nissan Qashqai but way off the (non-PHEV) Peugeot 3008, the Seat Ateca and the Skoda Karoq. Plus, the boot is narrower because the wheel arches encroach into the space.
The Compass 4xe (the plug-in hybrid version) loses a bit of storage space to the battery, and has up to 420 litres of storage.
Strengths Plenty of front space; good rear space
Weaknesses Rear seats aren’t very versatile
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
As a cash purchase, the Jeep Compass is priced towards the upper reaches of the family SUV class, costing slightly more than the Peugeot 3008 and about the same as the Volvo XC40, but a fair bit less than the Range Rover Evoque. The same goes for the PHEV, which costs more than all its rivals except the Evoque.
Resale values are not particularly impressive. In fact, the Compass is predicted to lose its value quicker than all its rivals, especially the Evoque. As a result, it's a potentially expensive ownership prospect in terms of depreciation and monthly payments if you buy on finance (future values are taken into account) – although it's worth checking for discounts on our New Car Deals pages.
Fuel economy for the petrol is competitive with the class at almost 48mpg, but to get the official figure for the 4xe PHEV – which is closer to 130mpg – you’ll need to charge up the car a lot. The 11.4kWh battery pack can be charged in about two hours from a dedicated home wallbox charger.
Company car drivers will be better off looking at the Ford Kuga because it has a longer electric-only range and a lower CO2 emissions figure, which means it will cost you less in benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax.
In terms of kit, the Compass's entry-level Limited trim gets 18in alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, automatic air conditioning, adaptive cruise control, keyless start, a reversing camera and a touchscreen infotainment system.
The top trim, called S, adds a 360-degree parking camera and electrically adjustable seats.
The 4xe model is also available in a trim called Trailhawk, which costs the same as S but is more off-road focused. It comes with 17in alloy wheels with tyres designed for off-roading and a dual-pane sunroof.
The Compass comes with plenty of safety features, including six airbags, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-departure warning. The S trim adds blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection.
The model scored a full five stars in its Euro NCAP safety test back in 2017, and performed particularly well in the adult and child occupant protection categories (scoring 90% and 83% respectively).
Jeep wasn’t included in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey (although it did badly the previous year). You get a standard three-year warranty, with a separate eight-year/100,000-mile policy for the 4xe's PHEV battery.
Strengths Plenty of equipment; good level of safety kit
Weaknesses So-so warranty; quick depreciation; expensive
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The Toyota RAV4 is longer and has more rear space, while the Compass is wider and has more shoulder room.
In one respect, yes – the four-wheel-drive version (4xe) is good off road. In almost every other respect, it’s not that great and you’d be far better served by one of its family SUV rivals.
The 4xe plug-in hybrid version does, but the Compass e-Hybrid has front-wheel drive.
|RRP price range||£34,580 - £44,455|
|Number of trims (see all)||4|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol, hybrid|
|MPG range across all versions||148.7 - 50.4|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£911 / £2,162|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£1,822 / £4,324|