Jeep Compass Performance & First Drive

Jeep Compass Overview

The Jeep Compass is most definitely the make or break model for the brand in India. But given everything we know about it so far, it is being touted as a major new model for not just Jeep worldwide, but also the Indian automobile industry. And what a great name for an SUV, right? Also, given the expectation on how aggressively Jeep is going to position it, the interest in the Compass is reaching fever pitch. With the new Compass, Jeep has taken a leap. And it’s no surprise then that it was with great anticipation that I got off the train and walked out of Grand Central station into the bustling streets of Manhattan – already teeming with people even before 8am!

Jeep Compass price in Mumbai

Jeep Compass Style

At first glance it is easy to see what inspired the designers of the Compass – its bigger brother, the Grand Cherokee; this is especially obvious when you look at it from the front. But apart from that, the Compass has its own identity.

The Jeep Compass looks tough but also premium. It looks modern, no doubt, but the squared off edges give it some old-school charm, ensuring a look that says SUV, not crossover. At the front, the highlights include the wide swath of black that stretches from one headlight to the other – including the modern take on Jeep’s iconic 7-slat (chrome lines) grille. The headlamps have a white element in them which help them pop out – an almost animalistic ‘eyes’ look, according to Jeep’s lead designer Mark Allen. They also contain LED guide lights, these are not DRLs – the actual DRLs actually sit on the bumper, just above the fog lamps. The clamshell hood is sculpted, with a slight power bulge in the middle, but the lines on it don’t scream aggression – Jeep wanted the Compass to look more inviting.

The Jeep logo sits on the bonnet, just above the grille. A small horizontal slat-like grille on the painted part of the bumper helps break the huge swath between the main grille and air dam, it also directs air towards the radiator. The air dam is as wide as the main grille and taller – it adds to the muscular look at the front. A chrome lip at the bottom of the air dam adds a bit of bling.

The bulk of the Compass is actually hidden well thanks to the use of a thick black cladding that goes all around the car. The Jeep-signature trapezoidal wheel arches contain the 17-inch silver alloy wheels shod with Firestone 225/60 section all-weather tyres. If you feel the need for larger wheels, the Compass Limited Plus gets a set of 18-inch dual-tone wheels that add to the road presence of the car. Surface detailing like the lines over the wheel arches, the prominent line that passes through the door handles onto the taillamps etc. make the compact SUV exciting to look at. Prominent ‘Compass’ badges are placed on both the front doors. For more info on Jeep Compass  visit aryavarta

The crowning jewel of the design here is the chrome line that separates the contrast-painted roof from the rest of the body – this line goes all the way from one outside rearview mirror (ORVM), over the windows, swoops down under the rear windshield, up over the windows on the other side to finally end at the other ORVM. The roof line seems to flow down towards the rear, while the windowline rises up, adding a kink at the very end of the windowline and the C-pillar looks like – according to Jeep – a shark fin! The roof rails and the spoiler do not stand out too much. But what does stand out is the panoramic sunroof that’s offered exclusively with the Compass Limited Plus. Besides being feature that’s nice to have, it makes the SUV look more upmarket.

At the rear, the design of the Compass becomes a bit sedate. Highlights here include the wraparound rear windshield with the chrome line running across its base, a two-part taillamps which consists of a prominent LED guide-light (mimicking the units in the headlamps), a slightly recessed number plate holder and a two part bumper with integrated fog lamps. The Jeep logo sits on a carved out recess just below the windshield, a unique touch.

Look all around and the Jeep Compass feels solid, the panel gaps are consistent and the paint quality is impressive. The Jeep Compass is offered in five colour options – Exotic Red, Brilliant Black, Minimal Grey, Vocal White and Hydro Blue (the colour of the car you see in the pictures).

Jeep Compass Space

Use the sensors on the front door handles to open the Compass, pull the handle and swing open the well weighted door and you are greeted by a dual-tone cabin. The black-and-almost-white interiors look inviting, but the lighter coloured parts will get soiled easily. At the presentation before the first drive, Jeep officials also displayed the Compass’ cabin with a sporty all-black theme, which includes red inserts/highlights. Many expected this to be offered with the Compass Limited Plus, but for now, this cabin theme is off the table. We may, however, get to see this in the TrailHawk.

Survey the dashboard from the firm but comfortable seats and you notice that it is a bit cluttered towards the driver’s side. Most of the surfaces on the inside feature soft touch materials; be it the dashboard, the armrests on the door pads, the centre armrests, the floor-mounted centre console, etc. The buttons, be it the power window switches on the door pads, multi-function buttons on the steering wheel or the buttons to control the climate control system are soft-to-touch and feel premium.

The cluster placed just under the touchscreen consists of dials and buttons to control the infotainment system and the dual-zone climate control and is a bit cluttered. Lower down the centre console, the Compass has USB and Aux-in ports, a charging port and a rotary knob to control the ‘Selec Terrain’ traction modes.

At first glance, the obvious signs of cost-cutting include the 7-inch infotainment screen on the centre console, dummy buttons on the steering wheel and the manually dimming interior rearview mirror. However, Jeep has addressed two of the three misses, with its new top-end variant. While a larger, 8.4-inch unit was available only in markets overseas initially, the larger screen is now offered in the range-topping Compass Limited Plus. An auto-dimming interior rearview mirror is also available with the top-spec Compass.Unfortunately, these upgrades are offered only with the top-end model, so some cons of the lower grades still remain.

The ‘uconnect’ infotainment system with the 7-inch touchscreen does not feel top notch to use. While the touchscreen is responsive, the system seems to be laggy. We were able to check the Android Auto system built into the infotainment system and experienced mixed results; while it worked perfectly at certain moments – responding to voice commands, reading out Whatsapp messages etc, and other times it simply refused to respond to simple requests through the touchscreen – through an almost three hour long drive, it seemed to think everyone in the car only loved songs from Indian Ocean and refused to change playlists/albums. The icons on the screen could have been bigger for better usability. Apart from the usual FM/AM/USB/Aux-in/Bluetooth connectivity options, the system is also Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compliant. The system plays through a six-speaker setup which sounds good, changing the equaliser settings make discernable changes to the sound quality.

Getting into the Compass may not be easy for everyone, thanks to the tall door sills. Once inside, the front bucket seats feel nice to sit in; they are firm but comfortable and wide enough to accommodate even someone of a bigger build. The under thigh support is especially amazing. The driver seat can be adjusted for height too. While the seats are manually adjustable in the other variants, the Compass Limited Plus offers an 8-way power adjustable seat along with 4-way power lumbar support and memory.

The steering is adjustable for both reach and rake, the leather-covered chunky rim feels good to hold and the thumb indents are also nice. The dummy buttons on the right spoke on this three-spoke unit are an eyesore. These black spaces could have been used to house the controls for the infotainment system; the volume and mode control buttons are placed behind the steering wheel, which you may not be able to find unless someone tells you they are there!

Move to the second row seats and you realise that the Compass is strictly a four-seater. It doesn’t feel wide enough to allow three adults to sit beside each other in absolute comfort over longer journeys – the middle passenger does not get a three-point seat belt or a headrest and he/she would also have to deal with a large hump in the centre and the A/C vent module. There is enough cabin space to seat four 6 footers comfortably; with enough legroom, knee room and headroom for all passengers.

For a car of this size, the boot space is quite average too. At 438 litres, it betters the Hyundai Creta (402 litres) but is far behind the Hyundai Tucson’s 530 litres. Figures aside, in isolation, the Compass’ boot feels underserved and the family’s luggage will sit snugly over weekend trips.

Jeep Compass Engine

When it is launched, the Jeep Compass will be offered with two engines, both with 4×2 and 4×4 options. The petrol variant will run a 1.4-litre Multiair turbo-petrol engine with the choice of a 6-speed manual and dual-clutch transmissions. The diesel variant, which is the one we’ve driven, debuts the 2.0-litre Multijet II diesel engine in India. This engine produces 173PS at 3,750rpm and 350Nm from 1,750-2,500rpm, and will be offered with a six-speed manual initially. According to Jeep an automatic variant should be on offer in the year.

The Multijet II is a big improvement over the first gen engine in terms of refinement. It’s significantly quieter and more responsive too. However, it still has some of the old characteristics – a slow revving engine with turbo lag till around 1,800rpm, and then a strong rush of power till the redline. But unlike before power comes in very smoothly rather than aggressively. And despite the lag, it doesn’t struggle to pull at all even when in third gear at around 20kmph. The 6-speed manual gearbox meanwhile is really the highlight here. Gear shifts are smooth, precise and have a slight mechanical clink to it which feels great.

Overall, the engine and gearbox combination make this Jeep a pretty good performer. We managed to get a decent 0-100kmph time of 11.9 seconds, and an efficiency figure of 11.39kmpl in the city and 14.11kmpl on the highway. What’s worth noting, is that this is the 4×4 variant, and we’re not sure when or under what conditions the system is activated. The Compass is primarily a front-wheel driven car with power sent to the rear wheels whenever necessary or when the 4×4 lock is engaged. The Jeep Compass gets four off-road modes – Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud. Unfortunately, we didn’t really get the chance to test its off-road capabilities. For more offers on Jeep cars in Bangalore check Autozhop.

Jeep Compass Driving

On the smooth roads of Goa, the Compass’ suspension offered a good compromise between comfort and handling. The Compass gets ‘frequency sensitive damping’ which adjusts the damping rate of the suspension as per road conditions and driver inputs. The SUV is able to keep occupants comfortable over most undulations except when going over sharp lateral bumps. The suspension seems to be tuned for more comfort higher speeds, there is a hint of bounciness – but it never gets uncomfortable. Taking some tight corners also showed how poised the Compass is, there is barely any roll.

The steering unit on the Compass is a revelation. Though it is electrically assisted, it feels well-connected to the front wheels. While there is almost no resistance from the steering system at parking speeds, it weighs up nicely as you pick up speed.A brief drive on the beach also gave us a preview of how effective the ‘Selec Terrain’ system is. Controlled via a rotary knob on the lower centre console, it offers shift-on-the-fly traction modes – including ‘Auto’, ‘Snow’, ‘Sand’ and ‘Mud’. Though the Compass has all-weather tyres, which are generally just enough to cope with varying terrains, the AWD system made sure the Compass felt comfortable on soft sand. The system automatically sent power to the rear wheels when it detected slip and stopped it from digging in.

On a dedicated 3.5km long off-road track, the Jeep Compass felt like it was built to do such stuff. Water wading, steep inclines, slush tracks, slippery grass, wet rocky terrain and a very bumpy log path were all dispatched with minimal effort. We were tackling all these in the ‘Mud’ mode which locks the 4×4 system and disengages traction control. The short first gear compensates for the absence of a crawler gear and there is enough grunt low down the power band that you don’t need to slip the clutch to go over steep obstacles. The responsive steering wheel has to be given another mention here – it had enough feedback for me to know where my front wheels were pointing at, without tiring my arms. Book Jeep Compass Test drive in Chennai at Tryaldrive.

Jeep Compass Safety

As standard, the Jeep Compass gets decent amount of safety features — ABS, dual airbags, electronic stability control, and hill-start assist. The top-spec Limited variant meanwhile, gets eight airbags, traction control, cornering lights and adaptive brake lights (they flash in case of emergency braking).The features list on the other hand, isn’t what one would call loaded, but has got a decent amount of kit. The Jeep Compass gets features like dual-zone climate control, bi-xenon headlamps, auto up/down front windows, a decent 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system and keyless entry and ignition. But you loss out on stuff like auto headlamps, auto wipers and cruise control, which you see in cars positioned lower than it.

Jeep Compass Cost in Mumbai

Jeep Compass On-Road Price in Mumbai ranges from 17,25,236 to 25,08,225 for variants Compass Sport 1.4 Multi AIR Petrol and Compass Limited 4X4 O 2.0 Diesel respectively. Jeep Compass is available in 10 variants and 5 colours. Below are details of Jeep Compass variants price in Mumbai.

Jeep Compass Conclusion

So it looks like the company has a winner on its hands. The new Compass is a far cry from the first generation that sold from around from 2006-2017 in the US. Sure we don’t have any connection to it, but it was a largely uninspiring product so that is just as well; though it sold well for Jeep. By comparison the new Compass is agile, engaging, spirited and rather fun. It’s also surprisingly nimble and capable off-road. If priced nearly as attractively in India as it is in here in America, well then lets just go ahead and congratulate FCA India right now! What would I deem attractive? ₹ 18-22 lakh for the entire range. So now here’s hoping for that, and looking forward to the arrival of the new Jeep Compass into the market.

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