Jeep Compass review

Category: Small SUV

The Compass has strong off-road credentials but falls behind rivals for refinement

Jeep Compass front left driving
  • Jeep Compass front left driving
  • Jeep Compass interior dashboard
  • Jeep Compass boot open
  • Jeep Compass interior infotainment
  • Jeep Compass right driving
  • Jeep Compass front driving
  • Jeep Compass front left driving
  • Jeep Compass front left static
  • Jeep Compass alloy wheel detail
  • Jeep Compass 4xe PHEV charging socket detail
  • Jeep Compass interior panoramic roof
  • Jeep Compass interior detail
  • Jeep Compass interior detail
  • Jeep Compass seat detail
  • Jeep Compass front left driving
  • Jeep Compass interior dashboard
  • Jeep Compass boot open
  • Jeep Compass interior infotainment
  • Jeep Compass right driving
  • Jeep Compass front driving
  • Jeep Compass front left driving
  • Jeep Compass front left static
  • Jeep Compass alloy wheel detail
  • Jeep Compass 4xe PHEV charging socket detail
  • Jeep Compass interior panoramic roof
  • Jeep Compass interior detail
  • Jeep Compass interior detail
  • Jeep Compass seat detail
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Introduction

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 belongs to the highly competitive small SUV class, along with the Jeep Avenger and Jeep Renegade. The Compass is the largest (and priciest) of the three, straying into the territory of the premium Range Rover Evoque.

Unlike the Evoque, 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.

Jeep Compass rear right driving

Overview

The Jeep Compass might be prepared for some off-road driving, but its poor road manners, noisy engines, uninspiring interior and steep price mean it's ultimately off the pace compared with its major rivals. For four-wheel drive and the best performance, you'll need the 4xe plug-in hybrid version, which can deliver excellent fuel economy if you keep the battery charged up.

  • Offers off-road ability
  • Reasonably spacious interior
  • Respectable equipment levels
  • Lacks engine refinement
  • Small boot for its class
  • Disappointing interior quality
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The Jeep Compass range starts with the e-Hybrid, a mild hybrid with a 128bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine, an automatic gearbox and front-wheel drive. With an official 0-62mph time of 10.0sec, it matches the similarly powerful Peugeot 3008 for pace but has nothing on even the least powerful Range Rover Evoque. It's adequate when driving around town, but struggles to haul the Compass with any urgency when you want to press on.

The PHEV model – called the 4xe – has a more palatable 0-62mph time of 7.3sec, but despite the combined efforts of its 1.3-litre petrol engine and electric motor delivering up to 237bhp, it never feels that swift. Like the e-Hybrid, it's only available with an automatic gearbox.

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. 

Switch to pure electric power and the 4xe can officially travel around 32 miles on a full charge of its 11.4kWh battery. That’s less than the 39 miles you can get from a Range Rover Evoque P300e.

Like the engine, the Compass's on-road manners are uninspiring, and it's easily unsettled by road imperfections. It doesn’t throw occupants around in their seats as much as a Renegade does, but it still doesn't have the compliant, comfortable ride you get in, say, the Peugeot 3008 or Skoda Karoq.

Jeep Compass image
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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 the class, but engine refinement is sadly lacking in comparison. The e-Hybrid drones under hard acceleration while the 4xe's engine sounds coarse when it kicks 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.

A regenerative braking function helps charge up the PHEV's 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.

The PHEV’s four-wheel drive system, mud and snow tyres and slightly higher ground clearance are worth considering if you plan to drive on rougher terrain. Upgrading to Trailhawk trim adds an additional Rock drive mode and underbody protection.

Performance overview

Strengths PHEV provides pure electric power over short distances; Trailhawk brings added off-road ability

Weaknesses Unsettled ride; numb steering; coarse engine

Jeep Compass interior dashboard

Interior

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, you get power adjustable lumbar support as standard on all trim levels and, if you go for Summit trim, you get full electric adjustment.

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. Rear visibility is on a par with rivals', with chunky rear pillars that can make it tricky to judge the car’s rear corners. A rear-view camera is at least standard on all trim levels, while front and rear parking sensors come on higher spec Summit trim.

Unfortunately, the Compass doesn't match the Evoque's simplified interior design. The driver gets a 10.3in digital instrument panel that offers a range of layouts, but the graphics could be sharper. You do at least get the newest version of Jeep’s UConnect infotainment system, displayed on a crisp 10.0in touchscreen.

The software is simple to use and it incorporates Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. Annoyingly, the screen layout hasn’t been reversed to suit right-hand drive cars, and because the screen is tilted away from the driver, you do have to lean forward to reach the buttons you interact with.

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 drive 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, they have made an effort to cover the dashboard and door cards with squidgy materials, 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.

Interior overview

Strengths Simple infotainment software; high driving position

Weaknesses Feels cheap; illogical button layout; no lumbar support unless you go for the top trim

Jeep Compass boot open

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.

Additionally, it's 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 significantly reduces head room. 

The Compass's rear seats, like the Ford Kuga's, fold in a 60/40 split. However, the Kuga’s rear seats also slide and recline independently to boost versatility and comfort, while the Compass's rear bench doesn’t do anything particularly special.

The Compass e-Hybrid has a maximum boot capacity of 438 litres. That puts it just ahead of the Nissan Qashqai, but way off the (non-PHEV) Peugeot 3008, the Seat Ateca and the Skoda Karoq. Plus, the boot is narrower than those rivals' 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, leaving it with up to 420 litres of storage. Only the Trailhawk version comes with a height adjustable boot floor.

Practicality overview

Strengths Plenty of front space; good rear space 

Weaknesses Rear seats aren’t very versatile

Jeep Compass interior infotainment

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

As a cash purchase, the Jeep Compass costs significantly more than the Kia Sportage, Seat Ateca or Skoda Karoq, and more in line with an entry-level Ford Kuga or Volvo XC40. It’s a fair bit less than the Range Rover Evoque, though. Meanwhile, the PHEV costs about the same as a Peugeot 3008 Hybrid. 

Resale values are not particularly impressive. In fact, the Compass is predicted to lose its value quicker than all of 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 e-Hybrid is competitive with the class, officially achieving around 50mpg. To get the official figure for the 4xe PHEV – which is closer to 166mpg – 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 Kia Sportage PHEV because it has a longer electric-only range than the Compass 4xe, as well as a lower CO2 emissions figure, which means it will cost you less in benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax.

Entry-level Altitude trim offers the best value for money. Standard kit includes 18in alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, two-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, keyless start and automatic wipers.

Upgrading to Summit trim adds larger 19in alloy wheels, ventilated front seats, rear privacy glass, a black painted roof and leather upholstery.

The 4xe model is available in two further trim levels: Overland and Trailhawk. Overland is based on Altitude but comes with smaller 17in wheels, off-road tyres and raised ground clearance. Top-spec Trailhawk is based on Summit, but gets the same off-road-focused tweaks as Overland plus a rock driving mode and some underbody protection.

No matter which version you go for you get plenty of safety features, including six airbags, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assist. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection is optional on Summit and Trailhawk versions.

The model scored a full five stars in its Euro NCAP safety test back in 2017, but it's worth noting that the rating has since expired. At the time, the Compass 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 – it finished last out of 32 manufacturers. You get a standard three-year warranty, with a separate eight-year/100,000-mile policy for the 4xe's PHEV battery.

Costs overview

Strengths Plenty of trim levels and equipment

Weaknesses Expensive to buy outright; loses its value quickly

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FAQs

  • 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 small SUV rivals.

  • The 4xe plug-in hybrid version does, but the Compass e-Hybrid has front-wheel drive.

At a glance
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Target Price from £29,034
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From £26,795
RRP price range £34,105 - £44,655
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, petrol parallel phev
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) £893 / £2,119
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,786 / £4,238
Available colours