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Great names often don't translate into great vehicles and such was the case with the Jeep Compass. Great name, average vehicle.
But there's a revised model in the offing featuring two petrol engines and a new corporate face derived from the handsome Jeep Grand Cherokee. Is it enough to lift Compass to a more respectable position in the compact SUV pecking order? Maybe.
There are about a dozen choices or more in the segment but Jeep thinks the new Compass has what it takes, especially with the weight of the Jeep name behind it. Compass sells from an extremely accessible $26,500 for the base model.
We get Sport 2.0-litre, 4x2, five-speed manual (optional CVT auto), Sport 2.4-litre, 4x4 with the same transmission choices as well as Limited 4x4 with the 2.4 engine and CVT only. Both engines are petrol.
Chrysler/Jeep has been a leader in automotive media connectivity and such is the case here if you go for the Limited model. Sport scores U-Connect multi media and also what's called EVIC - Electronic Vehicle Information Centre which is essentially a trip computer with additonal features. Cabin air quality is aided by a replaceable filter and remote keyless entry is included.
The four cylinder engines are not from the latest and greatest Fiat inventory (Fiat owns Jeep). There's a carry over 2.4 litre petrol and a newly added 2.0-litre petrol four. Neither is turbo boosted. They feature variable valve timing but not direct fuel injection.
The 2.0-litre is good for 115kW/190Nm while the 2.4 is good for 125kW/220Nm. A 2.0-litre turbodiesel previously available has been dropped but another diesel is under consideration. Fuel economy for the two petrol units varies between 7.6-litres/100km for the manual 2.0 up to 8.6 for the 2.4 CVT.
Compass rides on a passenger car chassis and has strut front suspension, multi-link rear and rack and pinion steering with a decent 10.8 metre turning circle. Brakes are discs all round and the suspension features stabiliser bars for better handling and drive feel. Towing capacity with a braked trailer is between 1200-1500kg. Wheels are 17- 18inch alloys with a full size spare (Sport).
Obviously, the front wheel drive isn't for off road driving but the 4x4 should be quite adept having 205mm ground clearance and a clever, on-demand all wheel drive system with a lock-up function. The 4x4 system is called Freedon Drive and puts power mainly to the front axle with the rear engaged as needed.
Compass' crash rating is four stars in the US. To get six air bags, you'll need to tick the options box - four bags are standard. It gets electronic stability control and a range of other systems including roll-over mitigation and hill start assist.
The Limited gets all the fruit including leather, premium Boston Acoustics audio and a power adjust drivers seat but standard kit is generous. Satnav is optional in both grades and Bluetooth phone is optional in the Sport. A range of options is available particularly audio choices.
New Compass is a much better looker than the previous model and more relevant with the 4x2 targeting city buyers. Pity the diesel has gone. Should have six air bags as standard, rake and reach steering adjust and Bluetooth.
NEED TO KNOW
Price: from $26,500
Engine: Sport 2.0-litre, Sport 2.4-litre, Limited 4x4 2.4-litre
Transmission: five-speed manual (optional CVT auto)
Outputs: 2.0-litre 115kW/190Nm, 2.4-litre 125kW/220Nm
Thirst: 7.6-litres/100km for the manual 2.0 up to 8.6 for the 2.4 CVT