Car Reviews

2018 Jeep Compass Review

Dean Mellor’s 2018 Jeep Compass Review With Pricing, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Safety, Verdict And Score.

In a nutshell The Jeep Compass is a small five-door SUV wagon with big off-road capability. Of six models in total, three offer four-wheel drive; the Limited petrol, Limited diesel and Trailhawk diesel.

2018 Jeep Compass 4×4 Limited/Trailhawk

Pricing $41,250+ORC (p), $43,750+ORC (d)/$44,750+ORC Warranty 5-years/100,000km Safety 5 star ANCAP Engine 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol/2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Power 129kW at 6400rpm/125kW at 3750rpm Torque 229Nm at 3900rpm/350Nm at 1750rpm Transmission nine-speed automatic Drive selectable full-time four-wheel drive Dimensions 4294/4398mm (L); 1819mm (W); 1644/1657mm (H) Turning Circle 11.07/10.76m Ground Clearance 212/225mm Spare 225/60R17/Full size Fuel Tank 60L Thirst 9.7/100km/5.7L/100km (combined) Service Intervals 12,000km/12 months/20,000km/12 months  

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JEEP HAS JUST launched its small Compass 4×4 wagon on to the Aussie market with a pricing strategy the company says drops it bang in the middle of the compact SUV class. We recently headed to Tassie to sample both the Limited and Trailhawk 4×4 models, both on the road and off it.

What is the 2018 Jeep Compass 4×4?

The Compass 4×4 is a small five-seat 4×4 wagon with a monocoque body structure and fully independent suspension. There are three models in the 4×4 line-up: the $41,250 Limited with 2.4-litre four-cylinder Tigershark petrol engine; the $43,750 Limited with 2.0-litre four-cylinder MultiJet turbo-diesel engine; and the $44,750 Trailhawk with the MultiJet turbo-diesel. All 4×4 models are equipped with a nine-speed automatic transmission; the Limited models feature Jeep’s Active Drive 4×4 System with Selec-Terrain Traction Management while the Trailhawk has an Active Drive Low 4×4 System and Selec-Terrain with Rock Mode and Hill Descent Control.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

Jeep also offers three front-wheel drive Compass models – the $28,850 Sport six-speed manual, the $30,750 Sport six-speed auto and the $33,750 Longitude six-speed auto. These variants are powered by the Tigershark petrol engine and were not tested on this launch drive.

The Compass Limited 4×4 is well equipped with standard gear including 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/55R18 Bridgestone Turanza tyres (the spare is a 225/60R17 on a steel wheel), leather seats, 8.4-inch touchscreen with satnav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, nine-speaker BeatsAudio, seven-inch colour instrument cluster display, power eight-way driver’s seat and four-way passenger’s seat, front and rear parking sensors, Park Assist, dual-zone climate control air conditioning and heated front seats. Options include a two-tone black roof ($495), a dual-pane sunroof ($1950) and an Advanced Technology Group ($2450) that consists forward collision warning, lane departure warning, exterior mirror courtesy lamp, power tailgate, adaptive cruise control, auto high beam and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross path detect.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

Jeep has thrown a Trail Rated badge on the Compass Trailhawk that essentially means it’s succeeded in a series of tests in five categories: Traction, Water Fording, Manoeuvrability, Articulation and Ground Clearance.

The Trailhawk has a redesigned front bumper for improved approach angle, revised rear bumper and an off-road suspension package that lifts running ground clearance to an impressive 225mm, up from the Limited 4×4’s 212mm, and increased maximum wading depth of 480mm, up from the Limited 4×4’s 405mm. The Trailhawk also has an Active Drive Low 4×4 System, which essentially means it can be locked in first gear for an overall reduction of 20.4:1, providing a low crawling speed for slow driving in tricky conditions. And its Selec-Terrain is equipped with a Rock Mode, in addition to the Limited’s Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud Modes, as well as Hill Descent Control.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

Standard equipment on the Compass Trailhawk includes 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/60R17 Falken Wildpeak H/T tyres (including full-size spare), 8.4-inch touchscreen with satnav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, recovery points front (x2) and rear (x1), underbelly skid plates, black anti-glare bonnet decal, cloth and leather seats, reversible cargo mat, all-weather floor mats and a full-size spare tyre (on a steel rim). Options include a dual-pane sunroof ($1950), Comfort & Convenience group ($2850) that consists leather seats, power eight-way driver’s seat (with memory) and four-way passenger’s seat, heated front seats, passive entry, remote start and keyless go, and Advanced Technology Group ($2450) as per the option-pack outlined for the Limited.

The Compass is covered by Jeep’s There & Back Guarantee, which includes a five-year transferable manufacturer warranty, lifetime roadside assistance and capped-price servicing when serviced within Jeep’s authorised dealer network.

What’s the interior like?

Despite its compact dimensions the Compass offers a reasonably spacious interior. There’s plenty of fore/aft adjustment for front-seat occupants and the steering is adjustable for rake and reach. The front seats in the Trailhawk are wide and supportive but quite basic, with six-way manual adjustment for the driver and four-way for the passenger. Neither have lumbar adjustment. The leather-clad seats in the Limited offer power adjustment and the driver’s seat adds lumbar adjustment. The storage bin under the armrest is tiny but the Compass has a large glovebox. There are two cup-holders in the centre console as well as in the doors.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

The dash is well designed and is dominated in both Trailhawk and Limited by the 8.4-inch colour touchscreen, which offers a clear and bright display and Jeep’s easy-to-use Uconnect system. The seven-inch colour instrument cluster is also bright and easy to read, and displays a wealth of information that can be accessed via the steering wheel.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

Unless the front seats are fully extended, rear-seat occupants are afforded a decent amount of legroom in the Compass. The seat base is a little short, however, and it’s quite low, so passengers have to adopt a knees-up position. The centre position isn’t all that comfortable and there’s not a lot of width back there for three occupants, but it’s well suited to two people. There are air conditioning vents in the back as well as a 230V/150W power outlet and a USB port, and cup-holders in the fold-down centre armrest, which also doubles as an access port to the cargo area.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

The cargo area itself is acceptably large for a small wagon, and it features four cargo tie-down points, a light and a 12V power outlet. With the rear seats folded (there’s a 60:40 split) the Compass offers an almost flat cargo floor. A low load height has been achieved despite the location of the spare tyre under the cargo floor.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

Jeep has made a point of equipping the interior of the Compass with soft-touch materials for a more premium feel, and it has succeeded to some degree. The dash, steering wheel and seat materials are all of a high quality, and the optional leather seats and red highlights on our Trailhawk test vehicle looked great, but there’s still a few hard plastics around the interior such as on the centre console and door trims. All of the switchgear is well positioned and clearly marked, and the chrome and silver highlights throughout the cabin are tasteful rather than garish.

What’s it like on the road?

We sampled both the petrol Limited and turbo-diesel Trailhawk on this launch drive. The 2.4-litre petrol engine makes a claimed 129kW at 6400rpm and 229Nm at 3900rpm, while the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel produces a claimed 125kW at 3750rpm and 350Nm at 1750rpm.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

In the Compass Limited 4×4, the diesel is only a $1000 premium over the petrol, and it’s money well spent. While the petrol engine feels quite zippy, it really needs to be operating in the upper half of the rev range to deliver the goods, which means the nine-speed auto constantly shifts up and down through the ratios on secondary roads as it searches for the right gear. Having said that, the auto is a smooth shifter and the engine sounds fantastic at high revs, but if relaxed highway touring is your thing then the oil-burner is a far better option.

The turbo-diesel engine is quite refined and offers plenty of urge from low revs, working well with the nine-speed auto. It’ll rev if you want it too, but with peak torque available so low in the rev range there’s really not much point.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

The suspension feels well sorted and it certainly leans more towards sporty than cruisy on twisty back-roads. Hook into corners and the Compass holds its line nicely with well-controlled body roll and an air of predictability. The electrically assisted power steering offers good feel and is well weighted; it felt a little heavier in the diesel Trailhawk than the petrol Limited, probably due to the Trailhawk weighing an extra 118kg, as well being equipped with a different wheel and tyre package.

The Compass is well suited to around-town duties. It’s short, not too wide and has a low roof height, so it’s easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces and will fit into just about any carpark. Forward visibility is good and although the rear window is quite small the reverse camera is excellent.

Claimed combined fuel consumption for the petrol is 9.7L/100km and 5.7L/100km for the diesel. Contributing to the fuel economy is the nine-speed auto’s tall top gear (2.08:1). In fact it’s so tall that when mated to the petrol engine the auto will rarely engage top gear at legal highway speeds, instead sticking to eighth gear.

What’s it like off the road?

We didn’t take the Compass Limited off road but we gave the Trailhawk a pretty good workout and it’s certainly one of the most capable small 4×4 wagons on the market.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

The Compass Trailhawk benefits from a different front-end design to the other models in the line-up, losing the lower front valance panel which increases approach angle to 30.3° compared to the Limited’s 16.8°. Raised suspension also improves ramp-over (24.4°) and departure (33.6°) angles, and with 225mm of ground clearance the Compass Trailhawk will make its way up rocky tracks that will stop many other small 4x4s. Vulnerable underbody components are tucked up and out of the way and there’s a good array of decent underbody skid plates.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

The Compass makes do without a two-speed transfer case, but hitting the 4WD Low button in the Trailhawk ensures the transmission holds the low 20.4:1 first gear, and it cancels the electronic stability control, providing a relatively slow crawl speed and good control for dealing with tricky sections of track.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

The Trailhawk doesn’t have a lot of droop travel and it will readily lift wheels on undulating terrain, so the best way to conquer rough tracks is to make the most of its compact dimensions and carefully pick your line, avoiding the biggest bumps and washouts where possible and trying to keep all four wheels on terra firma.

There can be a bit of wheel spin before the traction control kicks in and power is directed to the wheels with grip, but selecting Rock Mode seems to make the traction control a little more aggressive, minimising wheel spin and making it easier to climb over uneven terrain. Jeep says Rock Mode results in increased brake lock differential capacity and for up to 100 per cent of torque to be directed to the rear axle.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

The engine air intake is somewhere behind the driver’s side headlight but it’s hard to precisely locate without removing the myriad plastic coverings under the bonnet. Jeep claims a wading depth of 480mm for the Trailhawk, which isn’t great, but compares well with many compact SUV competitors.

The Compass Trailhawk is certainly no rock crawler, but there aren’t many five-door compact wagons that will go near it off the road, except perhaps the Suzuki Grand Vitara, which is the only vehicle in the segment to offer a two-speed transfer case.

What safety features does it get?

The Jeep Compass has been awarded a five-star ANCAP rating, scoring 35.93 points out of 37. Standard safety equipment across the range includes reversing camera, seven airbags, speed limiter, tyre pressure warning, epectronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, traction control and trailer sway control. The Limited and Trailhawk add front and rear parking sensors and tyre pressure monitoring system.

Available as an option pack on Limited and Trailhawk is Forward Collision Warning, Land Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path Detection, Advanced Brake Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go Function.

So, what do we think of the 2018 Jeep Compass 4×4?

The new Jeep Compass 4×4 offers a good blend of on-road comfort and performance. It’s well equipped, loaded with safety features and in Trailhawk guise is also a decent off-road performer. The turbo-diesel is the pick of the two engine options.

2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

 

Editor's Rating

What's the interior like?
What's it like to drive?
What about safety?
Practical Motoring Says: We reckon the turbo-diesel engine is the pick. The Compass is good on and off-road, probably better off-road than most buyers will need, especially in Trailhawk guise. It's loaded down with active safety features and is well equipped. There's a lot to like.

Dean Mellor

Dean Mellor