TODAY’S Compass is a very different animal from the original Jeep of that name of years past.

It’s a great looker, especially among kids – many pointing it out to their mums and dads as we cruised by, and why wouldn’t they?

Ours was a bright red and black two-tone, which not only made it look like a big Fast Wheels model, but also very easy to spot in a car park.

The Jeep Compass comes in a variety of models, with the Trailhawk, as reviewed, the top one, and priced at $47,600, which pits it against some serious Teutonic rivals.

Others, the Sport, Longitude and Limited, can be had from about $30,000 upwards.

Odd thing is it’s built in India.

Nothing wrong about that, but I recall that Jeep did not bother to show up at the rather important Delhi Motor Show until 2016 – and now they’re actually built there, in a super new facility in Pune, a bit up the road from Mumbai.

Indians are pretty fond of Jeeps and similar creations an used local Mahindra Thar 4WDs, which are Jeeps built under licence, for their offroad racing and recreation.

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The new Compass is built on the same platform as the Renegade, and is a neat machine equally at home in town or country, and packed with a great deal of luxury.

It’s a full-time 4WD with push-button low ratio if you really intend crawling over inhospitable terrain, but some people seem to enjoy doing that, hence the Trailhawk has a ‘Trail Rated’ badge that shows it meets Jeep for criteria for traction, water fording, manoeuvrability, articulation and ground clearance.

It also has underbody protection, exposed recovery points, better approach and departure angles,  off-road suspension and raised ride height.

Power comes from a 125kW/350Nm 2.0litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel that drives all four wheels on demand via a nine, oui mon ami, nine-speed ZF Sachs automatic gearbox which includes an 4WD low transmission setting and five off-road modes: auto, snow, sand, mud and rock. Plus a lockable centre diff and hill descent control.

It all stacks up to a seemingly competent vehicle that doubles as a smart city slicker and a decent offroader.

Pity then that the test Trailhawk’s wings were clipped by an unidentified gremlin.

We were driving up a steep incline when the engine suddenly decided to go into limp mode. What?  Had a rock snagged some vital part? Were we in the wrong drive mode?

No. We were just going up a ramp to a shopping centre car park.

It was pretty unnerving but it managed to crawl to the top, with the motor on the brink of stalling.

Then it righted itself and was fine until a day later when it did the same on a downhill take-off from traffic lights. Several more such incidents occurred, but between them the Trailhawk was quite pleasant.

Its the top of the Compass clan, priced from $46,950, driveaway, and you can personalise it with various options (Jeep calls them ‘groups’) at various prices.

Our car had two such groups and included niceties such as rear cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, radar cruise control, a powered tailgate, park assist, proximity key entry and start and heated and powered front  seats.

The interior is excellent with ample space, good seats, red stitching on the black leather and a comprehensive and easy to read dash display.

Then there’s the impressive UConnect communications and infotainment system with an 8.4-inch colour touchscreen featuring great graphics, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a brilliant image from the reversing camera.

Audio is by a hotshot nine-speaker stereo system and several connectivity bits such as aux and USB ports and USB charging and a 230V power outlet in the back seat.

The back seat folds down in a 40/20/40 pattern to boost the 438litre boot capacity to a vast 1693litres folded down and yes, there is a full-sized (17-inch) steel wheel tucked underfloor.

Hit the starter button and the clattery diesel comes to life. It’s quiet enough inside the cabin, but it can be pretty noisy on the outside.

The Trailhawk is sluggish on take-off, probably due to its slightly more than two tonne gross mass,  but quickly builds to cruising speeds and the nine-speed auto is a smooth one with a bright brain, always seeming to select just the right one of its many ratios.

It ran to 100km/h in 10.1seconds.

Ride quality and handling on the tarmac are good and with the uprated ground clearance, offroad tyres and other Trail Rated items, it’s a more than capable conveyance off the sealed roads too.

But we didn’t push our luck on unsealed terrain, never knowing when that moment of nothingness from the accelerator might kick in. What was worrying on the shopping centre ramp could be a hell of a lot worse on the slopes of a mini Mt Everest.

It might have been something as simple as a faulty sensor, but a quick scan of Google suggested it was not a rare misadventure in Jeepland.

So we were happy that Jeep has what it calls its There and Back Guarantee that covers new Jeeps with a five-year warranty, lifetime roadside assistance and five years of capped-price servicing. And that it has a five-star crash rating.

Fuel economy is a claimed 5.7litres/100km average, but that obviously depends on terrain and driving style. We ended up with a 7.9 average.

Verdict: An attractive, well-finished but quite pricey lifestylewagen with the occasional surprise.


Don't Like

  • Striking looks
  • Build quality
  • Comfort
  • Good transmission
  • UConnect system
  • Warranty
  • Price
  • Thirstier than expected
  • Accelerator problem on test car
  • Tardy on take-off


  • Looks
  • Performance
  • Safety
  • Thirst
  • Practicality
  • Comfort
  • Tech
  • Value