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Jeep Compass Review

With distinctive styling and more than 70 years of off-road expertise to draw upon the Jeep Compass is an alternative to the soft roaders flooding the compact SUV sector. But is it good enough to tempt buyers from the mainstream brands?

By Maxine Ashford
Jun 11, 2020
More On This Car
Take one for a spin or order a brochure
Request a JEEP COMPASS brochure
Request a JEEP COMPASS test drive
From £26,760 (test car was 4WD £32,900)
Pros:
  • Rugged styling and great off-road ability
  • Good choice of engines and available with 2WD or 4WD
  • All the latest on-board techno treats
Cons:
  • Hard plastic inside the cabin
  • Engine is fairly noisy at times
  • Not particularly dynamic to drive

Introduction

The original Jeep Compass sort of came and went without much impact disappearing from the radar in 2016. However, the second generation model is worth sitting up and taking notice of. It is very much based on the successful Jeep Renegade, but much bigger than its sibling.

It is powered by either petrol or diesel engines with manual or automatic transmissions and models can be purchased with two or four wheel-drive.

Customers can choose from well-equipped trim levels called Sport, Longitude, Night Eagle, Limited and Trailhawk with prices ranging from £26,760 to £37,985.

On The Road

Jeep Compass Review

Performance

The latest Jeep Compass is powered by a choice of MultiAir II petrol and MultiJet II diesel engines that have all been tried and tested in alternative Jeep or Fiat models. 

We opted for the 2.0-litre MultiJet II diesel Compass with 4WD and featuring a six-speed manual gearbox. This five-door SUV with 140hp and 350Nm of torque could complete the 0-62mph dash in a fairly respectable 10.1 seconds and topped out at 118mph.

Although those figures are not the most exciting, it’s worth remembering that the Compass is a very capable vehicle when faced with tougher terrain, so it offers the best of both worlds.

And in fairness, on the open road the acceleration through the gearbox was smooth enough with ample power on tap at all times. On twisting country lanes the road holding is nicely planted and there is little sign of body lean into bends provided they are given a little respect.

The steering feels nicely weighted with ample driver feedback and despite measuring almost 4.4 metres in length, the car was easy to manoeuvre in busier town centre environments. 

Hit the motorways and the Compass happily cruises at 70mph, but it can get a little noisier in the cabin at those higher speeds.

Jeep Compass Review

Ride Handling

Although the Jeep Compass is very capable when taken off road, the honest truth is that few owners would dare to venture far from the safety of the Tarmac. So with that in mind Jeep needed to ensure the vehicle delivered a comfortable ride for all occupants. And in essence, they have succeeded to an extent.

When driven ‘sensibly’ the Compass is nicely balanced and cruises along without any fuss or nonsense. However, introduce a more aggressive driving streak and it puts up quite a protest. The noise levels from the diesel powertrain are elevated and the ride quality is also less forgiving. 

Our test car was sitting on 19-inch alloy wheels and they seemed the perfect fit most of the time. But if driven hard into bends or along undulating roads you can expect more body roll and even the slightest bump or dip at speed will send a shudder through the cabin.

That’s not saying the Compass can’t be driven dynamically – it just needs a little TLC along the way.

Jeep Compass Review

Refinement

The five-door Compass is easy on the eye and is easily recognisable from a distance mainly due to the traditional seven-slot vertical grille. Our Compass Limited model also featured LED signature lights, a panoramic sunroof, privacy glass, front fog lights and some smart looking chrome trim. Body-coloured door handles and mirror caps, along with striking black alloys complete the eye-catching styling.

Move inside and you are greeted with a clutter-free interior that is neatly designed and features a wealth of on-board technology to explore. The part-leather seats look very upmarket and there is ambient lighting and plenty of soft-touch surfaces.

When it comes to driver refinement the Compass is well insulated against engine, road surface or wind noise. However, the diesel powertrain develops a louder grumble sound when pushed on or first thing in the morning when it starts up.

The car’s effective suspension system does a worthy job of smoothing out any smaller potholes, although these certainly become more noticeable at higher speeds.

In The Car

Jeep Compass Review

Behind the Wheel

Getting a comfortable driving position inside the Compass is a simple enough process with eight-way power-adjustable seats and a fully adjustable steering wheel making this vehicle an ideal fit for people of all shapes and sizes.

The elevated driving position results in good all-round visibility which is a ‘must’ on any family car. And all dials, controls and readouts are perfectly positioned for ease of use with many systems accessed and controlled via the multi-function steering wheel, which can also be heated.

On-board kit on out high-end test car included the likes of an 8-4-inch Uconnect touchscreen with navigation, Bluetooth and DAB radio. There is full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, along with a pitch perfect nine-speaker Beats sound system and dual zone climate control.

The Limited and Trailhawk models also gain a seven-inch full-colour LED instrument cluster. This reconfigurable display behind the steering wheel allows the driver to personalise the information and readouts according to taste.

Jeep Compass Review

Space & Practicality

Passengers are treated to good levels of space within the Jeep Compass and there is ample room in the back for a couple of adult passengers to sit comfortably. Add a third and it becomes a little cosy, but is fine for shorter journeys.

The boot is accessed via a powered tailgate and can swallow 438 litres of kit and that limit increases to 1,693 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. It’s worth noting that if you opt for a full-sized spare wheel – which is essential if lots of off-roading is likely – then the boot capacity is reduced to 368 litres.

There are lots of handy storage compartments scattered throughout the vehicle, including a glovebox, door pockets with a partitioned section for a water bottle, a net in the front passengers footwell, cup holders and a central cubby box.

The Compass is a ‘proper’ off roader and well capable when faced with more challenging terrain or adverse weather conditions. With high ground clearance it can also tow up to 1.9 tonnes. The 2.0-litre MultiJet II diesel is the best engine choice in the Compass line-up for towing.

Ownership

Jeep Compass Review

Running Costs

The entry-level Jeep Compass costs £24,100 for the Sport model and the range-topping Compass Trailhawk will set you back £36,990. This is the model of choice for anyone aiming to spend lots of time off-road.

Our near range-topping Limited version was priced at £32,900 although there were a few optional extras fitted to the vehicle that bumped the cost up by £4,650.

According to official figures, our diesel-powered car could deliver combined fuel economy of 40.4mpg under more stringent WLTP testing, with carbon emissions of 159g/km. This CO2 figure would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £530. But this would drop down to the standard £145 after 12 months.

The insurance group rating for the car was 20.

Jeep Compass Review

Quality & Reliability

The Jeep Compass certainly feels sturdy in its construction and it has been built to survive a rigorous lifestyle both on and off road. Over the years Jeep has developed a formidable reputation for producing outstanding 4x4 vehicles and the Compass is another fine example of that expertise. 

For those venturing away from the Tarmac there are settings to tackle snow, sand, mud and also an auto set-up and 4WD Lock function.

The interior is well designed with top quality fixtures and fittings, including leather-trimmed seats. There are wipe-clean surfaces and all the switchgear looks and feels like it will survive the test of time.

Systems such as the engine have been tried and tested on the Renegade so should prove reliable in the long run.

The Compass comes with Jeep’s newly improved five-year, 75,000-mile warranty that also includes three years’ servicing, plus five years of roadside assistance in the package.

Jeep Compass Review

Safety & Security

The Jeep Compass was awarded a maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating and is packed with safety features and driver aids.

It has the likes of a forward collision warning system which alerts the driver if they are getting too close to the vehicle up ahead. If the warnings are ignored, the system will actively brake the car to avoid a collision. There is also blind spot monitoring with cross-path detection, lane departure warning, traction control, a full suite of airbags and Isofix fixtures. 

Our Compass Limited model also featured parallel and perpendicular park assist meaning you follow the on-screen instructions and the car will take care of the rest – steering the Compass perfectly into the tight space.

To keep intruders at bay, there is a premium security alarm.

More On This Car
Take one for a spin or order a brochure
Request a JEEP COMPASS brochure
Request a JEEP COMPASS test drive
By Maxine Ashford
Jun 11, 2020