2017 Jeep Compass Review
Practical Motoring’s US-based preview drive 2017 Jeep Compass Review with specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Jeep’s new medium SUV is one a different planet to the lacklustre predecessor and looks like a Grand Cherokee. It’s got the best Jeep interior by far, good on-road manners and a super-capable Trailhawk version. It’s quiet, composed and has some toys its obvious rivals don’t.
2017 Jeep Compass
Pricing Not announced Warranty five years, 100,000km Engine 2.0L petrol four-cylinder (unknown if this will come to Australia); 2.4L petrol four-cylinder 2.0L four-cylinder turbo-diesel Power (2.4L) 129kW at 6400rpm Torque 237Nm at 3900rpm Transmission 9-speed automatic Drive four-wheel drive Dimensions 4394mm (L); 1874mm (W with mirrors folded); 2033mm (W, mirrors deployed); 1647mm (H with rails) Ground clearance 198mm-216mm Kerb weight 1444kg – 1648kg Fuel tank 51 litres Seats 5 Fuel economy 9.4L/100km Spare Space saver
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THE NEW JEEP COMPASS is twice the car when compared to the old one. It wasn’t a duffer, it was just dull, uninspired and a by-the-numbers medium SUV that failed to hit key Jeep differentiators despite having a seven-slot grille. It just wasn’t enough for buyers who wanted style, substance, technology and safety.
The new Compass brings with it a slick new interior dominated by the fourth-generation UConnect, FCA’s infotainment and communication system. Along with this impressive update to a previously unedifying and sometimes uncouth system comes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Based on the same platform as the Jeep Renegade, the new Compass offers up to 210mm of running ground clearance on 4×4 models and 198mm on two-wheel drive variants, and around 170mm of wheel travel at the front and 200mm at the rear. So, the new Compass will likely be one of the front-runners in the compact SUV stakes.
Pricing is unknown at this stage, but given the new car features a lot of extra gear the old car didn’t have, we’re expecting prices to creep up a little.
What’s the interior like?
Despite the platform share, it’s nothing like a Renegade on the inside, which should please a lot of people. This is a classy joint and buyers in the segment will be pleased by its visual appeal and premium-feel materials. The dash clocks are a little on the kitschy side but the big central screen (available in two sizes depending on grade and market) makes up for that with a big digital speedo as one of the options.
The steering wheel looks good, too, and feels nice in the hand with stacks of adjustment to help you get comfortable. Speaking of which, the front seats are supportive and hold on to you in moderate on- and off-road shenanigans.
There’s a choice of either 5.0, 7.0- or 8.0-inch screens running the latest-generation UConnect 4, which is vastly superior to all that went before, with clean, crisp graphics, a responsive touchscreen and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. There are obvious identifiable switchgear from other FCA product, but none of it is bad and doesn’t at all detract from the classy cabin. The detailing is excellent, it is a nice place to be, and if you like light, the huge panoramic sunroof should do the trick for you, as will the lighter colours available.
Rear seat passengers benefit the most by stretching the Renegade’s wheelbase (additional 66mm) and will sit on either a 60:40 or 40:20:40 split-fold seat. The boot has a false floor that can be positioned in three ways – liberating a further 97 litres – and there are two plastic bins either side, but without retaining straps. There’s a bag hook and attachments for a net.
What’s it like on the road?
Rather good. The springs and dampers on the Compass are set up for a plusher ride than the rest of the segment, a by-product of Jeep’s off-road penchant. The all-season tyres are hardly corner-munchers but are quiet and offer decent grip. There’s little wind noise to speak of and the engine is a distant whirr unless pushed, so it’s a relaxing drive.
The Active Drive system (on all but Trailhawk) is keen to keep the rear wheels decoupled to save fuel, but the transition is instant and power can go in every which way depending on where it’s needed most. The Trailhawk picks up an L in its ADL, meaning a final drive of 4.344 and a crawl ratio of 20:1. The Selec Terrain dial also picks up a fourth mode, Rock, joining Sand, Snow and Mud and the obvious Auto.
Brisk back road punting resulted in a car that was composed if a little understeery, but also more than willing to use every millimetre of suspension travel. The Koni FSD shocks prevent the thing from lurching all over the place and contains float over crests and ensures a soft landing in dips. Enthusiast fodder it isn’t but everyone will stay happy.
Ground clearance ranges from 198mm in the 4×2, 210mm in the 4×4 and 216mm in the Trailhawk, which also has a wading depth just shy of 500mm and an approach angle of 30.3-degrees compared to the standard 4x4s which make do with 16.8. Breakover and departure angles are around 23 and 32 depending on the model, with the Trailhawk on the high side of those figures.
We only tested the Trailhawk off-road on a carefully curated off-road track and it immediately impressed. A steep decline was easily dispatched and the Compass is easy to drive in the hands of a relative off-road novice. It’s good fun.
Sadly, there are a couple of dramas. First, the 2.4 litre MultiAir (aka Tigershark) just isn’t up to pushing well over 1500kg of SUV with any swiftness. The engine is rev happy but the nine-speed ZF transmission isn’t (the Aisin six-speed is a little keener), counting quickly to nine like an excited four-year old who’s just cracked one to 10. Even when in manual mode, the shifts are ponderous, as though your efforts to go down a gear are met with the suggestion that the gear you’re already in is fine.
And the towing capacity is a measly 900kg for the 2.4 litre 4×4. The diesel is rated higher (but we’re still waiting for those figures).
What about safety features?
Euro NCAP hasn’t tested the new Compass yet, so we don’t have figures, but it’s unlikely to get less than five stars. There are nine airbags, the usual stability and traction controls, reversing camera and hill descent control. Options include adaptive cruise, AEB, forward collision warning and lane departure warning with steering assistance.
Why would you buy one?
Because you don’t want the more rugged-looking Renegade and need a little more room for the family. The Compass might be behind some of its competitors as far as on-road manners are concerned but away from the bitumen it should outpace them.