Priced from £22,000 (est) Release date December 2017
The new Jeep Compass is a further step into the mainstream for the American brand. Once known as a pioneering maker of off-road heavyweights, it has adapted its modern line-up to target family car buyers.
Having seen this strategy result in sales success with the Renegade, Jeep has now comprehensively reworked its bigger Compass model – the previous version of which went off sale two years ago – relaunching it into the booming small SUV class.
The Compass is available with a 1.6-litre or 2.0-litre diesel engine (the latter with either 138bhp or 168bhp), as well as a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol. A nine-speed automatic gearbox is available with the 2.0-litre diesels, and both get four-wheel drive as standard.
2017 Jeep Compass on the road
While the four-wheel-drive Compass is impressively capable on off-road adventures, its on-road manners are far less inspiring. It's smoother-riding than the previous model, but is still easily unsettled by slight road imperfections, and it doesn’t offer the compliant, comfortable ride you get from rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 3008.
The Compass's steering is especially, poor, feeling too light and disconcertingly vague. This isn’t such a problem for town driving, but at higher speeds it robs you of confidence, as does the fact there's a fair bit of body roll through corners.
We tried the 138bhp 2.0-litre engine, and while it never feels outright quick, its strong pull at low revs suits urban driving well, even if the auto 'box can be quite slow to swap gears, leaving a noticeable gap between shifts.
Although final figures are yet to be confirmed, though, it's likely this engine won't be especially fuel efficient versus those available in the Qashqai, 3008 or Seat Ateca.
The biggest drawback of this engine, however, is its poor refinement: it sounds extremely coarse when accelerating, even if it does settle down at a cruise. You can also feel vibration through the steering wheel and pedals – something that the Renegade suffers from, too.
2017 Jeep Compass interior
Inside, the Compass offers the driver and front passenger generous head, shoulder and leg room. There’s also plenty of adjustment for the front seats and steering wheel to allow the driver to get comfortable, while visibility is good thanks to a high driving position.
UK spec levels are yet to be finalised, but our test car had a bright, responsive 8.5in infotainment touchscreen. Unfortunately, some interior materials feel cheap and the fit and finish generally isn’t a match for rivals.
The Compass is 7cm longer between its front and rear wheels than the Renegade, and this benefits rear passengers greatly, offering a couple of adults good leg room. Be wary of opting for a sunroof, though, because it dramatically reduces head room.
The Compass's boot has an adjustable floor, which at its deepest setting allows 438 litres of space, although it does leave a large lip at the boot's entrance. Ultimately, luggage capacity is only marginally bigger than the Qashqai's and way off the 3008's and Ateca's, plus the boot is narrower due to the rear wheel arches encroaching.
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