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2018 Jeep Compass Photo: Daniel DeGasperi
2018 Jeep Compass Photo: Daniel DeGasperi
2018 Jeep Compass Photo: Daniel DeGasperi
2018 Jeep Compass Photo: Daniel DeGasperi
2018 Jeep Compass Photo: Daniel DeGasperi
2018 Jeep Compass Photo: Daniel DeGasperi
2018 Jeep Compass Photo: Daniel DeGasperi
2018 Jeep Compass Photo: Daniel DeGasperi
2018 Jeep Compass Photo: Daniel DeGasperi
2018 Jeep Compass Photo: Daniel DeGasperi
2018 Jeep Compass Photo: Daniel DeGasperi
2018 Jeep Compass Photo: Daniel DeGasperi
 
 
Daniel DeGasperi | Jul, 19 2018 | 0 Comments

There are clear coordinates that the 2018 Jeep Compass Limited has followed.

This small-to-medium SUV has been pinned due-north of its Renegade sibling, and due-south of the Cherokee. Most rivals field a duo of contenders in the sub-$50,000 five-door raised wagon price bracket, but Jeep has seen fit to squeeze in three.

The offroad-focused American brand also has model grades of this Compass that can actually head off the beaten track – unlike most faux-wheel drive competitors.

It’s obvious where this model fits in the range, then, and what promises to be its point of difference. But does that all point potential Compass buyers in the right direction?

Vehicle Style: Small SUV
Price: $41,250 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 129kW/229Nm 2.4 4cyl petrol | nine-speed automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 9.7 l/100km | Tested: 11.7 l/100km

OVERVIEW

It is possible to buy a duo of front-wheel drive Compass model grades – including the $28,850 plus on-road costs Sport (with a six-speed automatic costing $2900 extra) and the auto-only $33,750 (plus orc) Longitude. Each get a 2.4-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine producing 129kW of power and 229Nm of torque.

However, this $41,250 (plus orc) Limited introduces all-wheel drive complete with a 50:50 front/rear drive lock button and all-terrain modes. It otherwise shares the same petrol engine, but it swaps out six gears for nine, and further offers a diesel option.

For $2500 extra, a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four manages about the same power (125kW) but adds in torque (350Nm), while lowering official claimed combined-cycle fuel consumption from a steep 9.7 litres per 100 kilometres to a frugal 5.7L/100km.

A further cost option on Limited petrol or diesel, and one that should be standard, is a $2450 Advanced Technology Group with forward collision and lane-departure warnings, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, electric tailgate and automatic up/down high-beam. Yet, even then, there’s still no autonomous emergency braking (AEB) on any Compass.

THE INTERIOR | RATING: 3.0/5

Standard Equipment: Multi-function trip computer, dual-zone climate control, power windows and mirrors, leather steering wheel and gearshifter, heated leather front seats and electrically adjustable driver’s seat, keyless auto-entry with push-button start, cruise control and automatic on/off headlights/wipers. Infotainment: 8.4-inch colour touchscreen and 7.0in driver display with single AUX and twin-USB inputs, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, satellite navigation, digital radio and Beats nine-speaker audio including subwoofer. Options Fitted: $2450 Advanced Technology Group, $1950 dual-pane sunroof and $495 two-tone roof. Cargo Volume: 438 litres.

About the only piece of luxury equipment missing from the Compass Limited is a sunroof, and indeed a dual-pane version adds $1950 to the price. Add it to the Advanced Technology Group, and the pricetag becomes a hefty $45,650 (plus orc).

And that isn’t for a size-equivalent to the near-identically equipped Mazda CX-5 GT that costs $43,590 (plus orc). Indeed, where a CX-5 GT is a proper medium SUV at 4550mm long, this small-to-medium Compass winds the tape measure to 4394mm from tip to toe.

By comparison, its $36,290 (plus orc) Renegade Limited sibling measures 4255mm, while the larger $45,950 (plus orc) Cherokee Limited stretches 4624mm. Remember what we said about Jeep squeezing three SUVs into this price bracket? This $41K-plus Compass Limited fits right inside.

Now in terms of space utilisation and packaging, this Jeep hides its dimensions deficit reasonably well. There’s notably less headroom that bigger rivals, especially in the rear where this 178cm-tall tester’s head brushes the optional sunroof aperture.

However, there are air vents, a powerpoint and USB port for rear passengers, while a 60:40 split-fold rear backrest further adds a centre ski port to enhance practicality. The front passenger seat also either folds its backrest onto itself, or flips its base up to boost storage. So although the 438-litre boot volume is about the tiniest to be found for about this price, prodigious practicality and storage smarts make amends.

Irrespective of space, the Jeep’s 8.4-inch touchscreen shows up among the most impressive clarity and connectivity, with a blend of integrated satellite navigation, digital radio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology both matching expectations on paper and proving good to look at and easy to use on the move. The nine-speaker Beats audio system is solid, too.

Where the Compass nosedives is with its feeling of expense, or lack thereof.

There’s leather trim with heated front seats and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, sure, but the facings are vinyl-like and they wrap around flat and relatively hard front seats. The plastics are mostly a soft-touch affair, but they are also of a shiny and rubbery variety that don’t feel premium enough for the price. Add in the ultimate space deficit plus high options pricing, and this Limited’s score is indeed just that.

ON AND OFF THE ROAD | RATING: 3.5/5

Engine: 129kW/229Nm 2.4 4cyl petrol Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, AWD Suspension: Strut front and independent rear Brake: Ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering

Although the Limited is the first step to all-wheel drive Compass ownership, it isn’t the last. At $44,750 (plus orc) the diesel- and auto-only Trailhawk drops the Limited’s level of kit, relegating leather trim, front seat heating and electric adjustment, and even keyless auto-entry back as part of an options package, at $2850 extra.

In the place of such luxury items, the Trailhawk lifts this Limited by 2.5cm to increase ride height, while it also moves the offroad approach angle from just 16.8 degrees to 30deg, and the departure angle from 31.7deg to 33.6deg. It further adds hill-descent control and low-range gearing, too.

The point of mentioning this now is that the weight of proper all-wheel drive drags down the performance of this petrol Limited – yet it misses the full offroad benefits.

Weighing 1503kg, at least this Compass isn’t heavy by medium SUV standards. For example, a CX-5 GT with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol weighs 1570kg. And, thanks to a short first gear inside the nine-speed auto, this 2.4-litre four gets off the line well.

What can’t be escaped, however, is the auto’s constant shuffling of gears to keep the petrol spinning and moving. With a sluggish 10.1-second 0-100km/h claim feeling more like a best-case scenario, and fuel consumption that blew out from an average 9.7L/100km to 11.7L/100km, the reality is a sub-500km overall driving range.

Meanwhile the aforementioned Mazda, despite being larger and heavier, claims 7.4L/100km – a whole 1.3L/100km less.

To be fair it isn’t all bad news. Engine refinement is better than expected, with the Limited proving quieter than its smaller Renegade sibling and decently vibration-free when extended. The 2.4-litre itself revs nice and quickly, if not sweetly, while the nine-speed is also smarter than the average automatic, holding gears nicely on hills and proving responsive when used in tipshifter-manual mode.

The complaint, then, is purely around outright performance versus economy.

And, in lieu of the Trailhawk’s chunky and offroad-focused Falken 17-inch tyres, this Limited gets 18-inch Bridgestone Turanza tyres that do help the on-road dynamics of the Compass considerably.

This is a surprisingly keen-handling small SUV, with nicely measured and medium-weighted steering guiding a solid and agile front-end through curves with greater enthusiasm than virtually any rival except (surprise, surprise) the CX-5.

Another upside is that with a lock button for the all-wheel drive plus choice of Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock modes to manipulate the electronics into helping a driver through rough terrain, this Jeep is far more trustworthy offroad than the Mazda – which gets zero modes, but adaptive software to alter front-to-rear torque distribution.

The Compass can even place 100 per cent of torque to the back wheels, which is genuinely impressive.

For a blend of on- and off-road handling, then, the Limited is right up there as the best in the class. There are, however, significant downsides, including high levels of wind and road noise, and ride quality that is firm and controlled, but also rather too stiff-legged and more often than not jittery.

SAFETY

ANCAP Rating: 5 stars – the Jeep Compass scored 35.93 out of 37 possible points when tested by ANCAP in 2017.

Safety Features: Dual front, front-side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags, ABS and switchable electronic stability control (ESC), front and rear parking sensors with auto reverse-park assistance, and rear-view camera.

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: Five years/100,000km kilometres.

Servicing: Below-average annual or 12,000km service intervals are charged at a capped-price cost of $425/$625/$425/$695/$425 for each of the first five check-ups.

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

It depends on priorities here. If you want an identically sized SUV with a ‘lock’ button for some off-road driving, the Vitara S-Turbo slides in at circa-$10K under this Jeep.

For $40K-plus value, interior equipment, and brilliant handling, the larger CX-5 GT is the pick, while a larger left-field alternative is the MU-X LS-U that will do best off road – if not on it.

  • Isuzu MU-X LS-U
  • Mazda CX-5 GT
  • Suzuki Vitara S-Turbo AWD

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL RATING: 3.5/5

In some ways the Compass Limited complements the Compass Trailhawk further upstream, with the former prioritising in-cabin equipment and on-road handling, while the latter locks in diesel economy plus a distinct offroad focus.

This petrol engine is not a drivability or refinement burden, thanks mainly to the savvy automatic it mates with, but performance and economy do ultimately suffer compared with other vehicles at this pricetag. It also makes the diesel option almost too good to ignore – but that elevates the cost outlay even further.

Whatever the engine, the cabin feels small and relatively cheap for a $40K-plus ask, despite a swag of equipment. And the steering and handling of this Limited may be enthusiastic, but road noise is high and ride quality is average.

For some, packing city-sized agility with some offroad prowess will be worth forking out extra for, so when deciding on which direction to take with your Compass, it’s probably best to head towards the Trailhawk diesel over this Limited petrol.

 
Filed under compass Jeep SUVs
 
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