If you’re looking for a compact SUV that feels like a car to drive, the Compass is a decent option – but don’t expect class-leading refinement. There’s a rugged and rough quality to the Jeep that isn’t present in many rivals, and we would have no qualms about taking it off the beaten track. It’s well equipped, and offers brisk acceleration and decent fuel economy in top-spec diesel trim, as well as comfortable surroundings. Cheap interior plastics and boxy looks might put off style-conscious buyers, however.
Heading in the right direction – that’s the Jeep Compass
. The SUV has undergone a redesign inside and out, with an all-new engine, plus the firm’s first two-wheel-drive option for UK buyers.
The styling has been tweaked to match the forthcoming Grand Cherokee, with the front end dominated by the traditional seven-slot grille and big badge.
Elsewhere, the car retains
the current model’s boxy looks,
with trapezoid wheelarches and hidden rear door handles. The Compass appears rugged and aggressive, though – certainly more so than its VW Tiguan
and Nissan Qashqai
Inside, the dash has been updated, and the attractive facia houses switches for the climate control, an optional sat-nav and neatly designed instruments. But there’s not much in the way of soft-
touch plastics or quality trim, even in our high-spec Limited model.
Space is tight in the rear,
with a high transmission tunnel making things uncomfortable for passengers in the middle. And although the boot is wide, it’s
not as deep as in some rivals.
On the road, the 161bhp
2.2-litre diesel provides brisk
acceleration, but as the revs
rise, refinement falls off and
the unit becomes intrusive
on the move. There is some
transmission whine in the
background, too. Body control is kept in check well, and the Compass remains composed in corners. However, the ride is stiff, the gearchange is clunky and the light steering serves up little
in the way of feel or feedback.
So while the new Compass
still has plenty of appeal, it’s
to a rather limited audience. Buyers in the market for a
compact SUV that works off
the road as well as on it could
do a lot worse – but there are a number of more refined, stylish and fun to drive rivals out there.