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0 - 62 mph11s
WLTP - CO2157 g/km
Can Jeep's new generation Compass successfully show the brand's softer side? June Neary checks it out..
Will It Suit Me?
Ask any Jeep dealer and he'll tell you that his wares aren't made for hairy woodsmen from the back of beyond with mud splattered boots and a squirrel for a hat. He'd be limiting his market somewhat if he didn't. He'd be right too. Most modern Jeeps are as civilised as the next SUV vehicle but they do have a certain rough 'n' ready image which is handy to an extent but can put some people off. If you still imagine the average Jeep owner prowling the forest with a shotgun looking for his tea or playing the banjo on his front porch, it's about time you modernised that view. This second generation Jeep Compass could be the car to help you do it. Jeep enthusiasts were less than keen on the Compass when it was first launched back in 2007. At the time, it was the 'softest' Jeep the brand had made and they were concerned it might dilute the marque's illustrious off-roading heritage. What it did do is open up the prospect of Jeep ownership to a group of buyers who may not have considered one before - the kind of mainstream clientele who had driven the boom in compact Crossover sales. This much more competitive second generation Compass model continues that good work, more effectively ticking all the basic mid-sized SUV boxes - a high driving position, chunky looks, decent practicality and a lack of really heavy duty off-road underpinnings which should lead to decent performance on the tarmac. I thought I'd check it out.
From straight ahead, you'd instantly pick the Compass out as a Jeep product: the characteristic grille and lights are highly recognisable. Move round to the rear three-quarter view and things aren't so cut and dried, the tapered C-pillar looking pretty generic. Nevertheless it's a smart piece of styling, albeit one that could use some bigger wheels. What's quite remarkable about the Compass is how small it is when you get up close. Despite the beefy styling cues, it's not a lot bigger than a Ford Focus, though of course it rides a little higher. That makes is a surprisingly manageable proposition and will appeal to buyers daunted by the prospect of driving a large SUV around town. The Compass is still a Jeep, albeit a more road-biased one, and it can still do better than most mid-sized SUVs off-road. The approach and departure angles (ie the car's ability to climb onto and descend off steep inclines) are also a good deal more aggressive - in the time-honoured Jeep tradition. The rear seat is intended to be able to properly seat three adults but thanks to a high centre transmission tunnel which restricts middle occupant space, that'll only be for short journeys. Three kids will be quite happy though and a couple of adults will be able to relax in some comfort, thanks to decent head, leg and shoulder room and the way that the backrest reclines by 12-degrees. Behind, there's 438-litres of luggage capacity in a thoughtfully designed boot area.
Behind the Wheel
If you're after one of those compact SUVs that drive just like the sportiest family hatchback, then I need to say right up front that this isn't one of those. But if you haven't driven anything from this class of car for some time, you might be surprised by just how little adjustment will be required if you're switching over into one from something Focus or Astra-sized. You'll like the high-set driving position, the good all-round visibility and the way that the gear lever falls naturally to hand. As for the mechanicals, well the Compass line-up is based around a Multijet diesel engine range. There's a 120bhp 1.6-litre unit and a 2.0-litre powerplant available in either 140 or 170bhp guises. There's also a 1.4-litre petrol unit with 140 or 170bhp. Four wheel drive is only available on the 170bhp petrol model or the 2.0-litre diesel. The 170bhp 2.0-litre diesel comes with a 9-speed auto gearbox, boasts a lusty 380Nm of pulling power and will be the primary choice of towers. This Compass model shares its underpinnings with Jeep's Cherokee, so you'd expect even mainstream variants to be more capable than the average family Crossover if you ever take to the wilds. Four-wheel drive models get rear-axle disconnect, which improves efficiency by switching to two-wheel drive when all-wheel drive isn't required.
Value For Money
Prices start at around £23,000 - so a bit more than a Nssan Qashqai but significantly less than, say, a Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V. Standard equipment across the range includes air conditioning, a 'Uconnect' touchcreen infotainment system with a DAB audio set-up and Bluetooth, alloy wheels, tyre pressure monitoring, and remote central locking. Plusher models add larger aluminium wheels, roof rails, body coloured door mirrors and handles, cruise control and front fog lamps, plus a larger 8.4-inch screen with sat nav for the 'Uconnect' infotainment set-up. On to safety. All models get the expected things - Isofix childseat fastenings, tyre pressure monitoring, an energy-absorbing steering column, hill start assist to stop you from drifting backwards on uphill junctions and twin front, side and curtain airbags. To try and make sure those 'bags won't be needed, there's plenty of electronic assistance. ESC stability control and Electronic Roll Mitigation of course, plus 'All speed traction control' and a 'Brake Traction Control System' to offer extra grip on start-off or through the bends. The ABS braking system features 'Panic brake assist' and 'Ready Alert Braking' to quicken emergency stops. There's a 'DST' 'Driving Steering Torque' system to counter scary oversteer on low-grip surfaces. And 'Trailer Sway Control' will come in useful too if you'll be fitting a towbar and doing some towing.
Could I Live With One?
I think there's a lot to be said for an all-American Jeep that's affordable and a little softer around the edges. The Compass might not be the last word in sophistication but it's a tough customer that's also reasonably amiable on the road. If you're still of the opinion that Jeep only caters for he-man off-road drivers and well-heeled buyers seeking big luxury SUVs, the Compass can set you straight.
Whilst every effort is made to verify and ensure the accuracy of the data, the information should only be used as a guide and no purchasing decision should be made without verification of the data from either the manufacturer or franchised dealer. Our offers may be on a different model year to that represented by this data and so specification may differ accordingly.
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Based on 48 month contract and 5,000 miles per year. Initial rental of £2,654.27 followed by 47 monthly rentals of £294.92. Processing fee £358.80 Inc VAT. All prices Inc VAT . Excess mileage charges may apply if contract mileage is exceeded. Fair wear and tear charges may apply at end of contract.
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