In spite of the smaller dimensions the Compass does resemble the Grand Cherokee especially from the front. The 7 slat grille and the angular headlamps are some similar traits. The bumper is a mix of body colour, cladding and a silver skid plate. From the profile some attributes really make the compass stand out. Not to be missed are the square shaped wheel arches and body cladding that really make the SUV more muscular. And to top it is a chrome strip that runs from the front window all the way rear windscreen which is a great design touch. The rear too is attractive with a big spoiler that houses a brake light. The tail lamps have a curvy design and look appealing. However unlike the front bumper the rear bumper misses out on silver skid plates. Overall though in terms of dimensions the Compass is smaller than even though the Volkswagen Tiguan and the Hyundai Tucson, the Jeep design traits make it look bigger than it actually is.
The Aluminum gear knob looks good and is great to hold. The 7 inch touch screen system is compatible with Apple car play and Android auto and also gets a rear parking camera display. But it’s response time is a bit slow. The volume controls behind the steering wheel come in very handy. The front seats get climate control while the second row has to just make do with AC vents. The second row also gets a charging pint and a centre arm rest. The two big missing links inside are electronically controlled driver seat and a sunroof. However there’s no dearth of space on with rows and the seats provide for a good thigh and shoulder room. But because of that there seems to be a compromise in boot space as it stands at a mere 408 litres. The loading height also is a bit higher which may be a cause of some inconvenience.
Jeep has made a lot of efforts to keep the NVH levels in check and only when the engine reached higher RPM’s of around 4,000 does some sound creep into the cabin, otherwise it’s pretty silent.
The monsoon laden roads of Goa provided for an ideal venue to drive the compass in all its glory. It began with an on-road drive of the SUV. There was just the Diesel manual 4×4 variant that we could sample on this drive. It runs on a 2.0 litre multijet engine that gives a good power of 171 bhp and a torque of 350 Nm. The Petrol will also get an automatic transmission option which the diesel misses out on. The 6-speed gearshift is defined well and the good torque figure especially in the range of 1500-3500 rpm ensures in minimizing gear changes. Jeep has made a lot of efforts to keep the NVH levels in check and only when the engine reached higher RPM’s of around 4,000 does some sound creep into the cabin, otherwise it’s pretty silent. The Compass also strangely misses out on something like cruise control which most of its rivals can boast of.
Ride & Handling
These are the biggest highlights of this product. The all independent suspension setup where the frequency selective damping technology is used is a display of some great engineering by the company. The Compass soaks in all the bumps and potholes thrown at it. Talking about handling there are times when you have to be a little careful while changing lanes at high speeds but the compact dimensions of the SUV come to the rescue. And finally braking is something where the Compass can inspire a little more confidence than it already does.
A fantastic trail in forests of Goa awaited us and the Jeep Compass. There were a lot of obstacles here and we took the compass over all of them. Now this isn’t a Wrangler or a Cherokee but the Compass really held onto its own pretty well. The 4 driving modes of Auto, Snow, Sand & Mud are well equipped and help the car in sailing through obstacles. You can also lock the 4 wheel drive system for favorable results. However it will be wrong to call the Compass a hardcore off roader as it does not get a low range Gearbox. The car can also get do with some better ground clearance and hill hold and hill descent features.
The Compass is everything you want from a compact SUV. Jeep has also tried to turn the compass into a safe vehicle. There are as many as 6 airbags on offer and the SUV also gets ABS, ESP and traction control and settings of each one of them change with change in driving modes. Jeep has already announced that the car will be launched in the next quarter and a major challenge will be to come out with a price that justice to its abilities.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars.