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Jeep Compass 2012 Review

EXPERT RATING
6
The Grand Cherokee showed Jeep was on the right track but its bearings are still a touch off based on the updated version of the Compass. It is a makeover for the softest of the Jeep range - and the first of a series of two-wheel drive models - as the US-based company looks to grab more mainstream buyers. The

The Grand Cherokee showed Jeep was on the right track but its bearings are still a touch off based on the updated version of the Compass. It is a makeover for the softest of the Jeep range - and the first of a series of two-wheel drive models - as the US-based company looks to grab more mainstream buyers.

The logic is simple: cut the 4WD system and you can also cut prices. That should give Jeep a bigger share of the SUV market, while still leaving Trail-rated versions to appeal to hardcore off-roaders.

VALUE

The action starts at $26,500 for the 4x2 Jeep Sport five-speed manual. That buys a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 115kW/190Nm, but youll need another $2000 for the continuously variable transmission. Pricing compares well with the base 2WD Kia Sportage at $26,720 and $26,290 spend for the Skoda Yeti but the Kia is a more engaging drive and both have better interiors.

Step up to the all-paw Compass Sport 4x4 and there's a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine with 125kW/220Nm mated to the manual geabox. The range-topping Compass Limited is $34,000 and is only sold with the CVT.

It also picks up 18-inch alloys, climate control, an auto-dimming rear vision mirror and a nine-speaker sound system with a 40GB hard drive, voice control and USB/Bluetooth connectivity, all driven via a 16.5cm touchscreen. 

TECHNOLOGY 

There's not much to brag about on the tech front. Jeep says the CVT has been recalibrated to improve off-the-line launch and pedal responsiveness. Try harder. The drone still intrudes into the cabin and performance is sedate rather than spirited.

The interior upgrade is worthwhile without being class-leading, though the Boston Acoustic sound system in the Limited is very good, even if it doesn't have audio streaming. 

STYLE

There's as much Grand Cherokee design influence as Jeep could cram into this compact SUV and it is visually much more appealing than its tougher-looking Patriot sibling. The signature chrome seven-bar grille dominates the front end and, unlike some vehicles in this class, the fog lights arent so big they distract from the styling.

It is fairly slab-sided and the low ride height shows that it isnt intended for serious forays into the bush. The interior now looks modern and the seats provide plenty of support. Cargo space is 458 litres with the rear seats in place or 1259 litres when they're folded. Again, that puts it mid-pack in terms of carrying capacity. 

SAFETY 

Four airbags aren't enough to make the grade when the Compasss competition fits six as standard. A pair of seat-mounted side airbags are included with the $800 Safety and Comfort pack but only serve to highlight how hard Jeep has tried to keep the base cost down.

And that should never be at the expense of safety, real or perceived. The Compass has yet to hit the crash-test wall but will probably earn four stars. The brakes come with the usual software but the pedal is hard and dead and doesn't inspire confidence when stopping at highway speeds. 

DRIVING 

This is a Jeep for urban duties, where light throttle and steering inputs highlight the cars better traits. The suspension is very good and copes with ripples and decent knocks without much fuss, though there is a bit of body roll through tight corners. 

Through those same corners the steering has all the feedback of a broken speaker. It is acceptable around town but this is not the vehicle to go chasing corners in. At least it tracks true and the car has been tuned to deliver easily manageable understeer. 

VERDICT 

The Grand Cherokee has raised the bar for Jeep and the Compass fails to clear it. It is acceptable but will never earn the accolades of its big brother - it is a well-priced, middle-of-the-road runner. And in the cut-throat compact SUV segment, it is simply outclassed.

I'd accept the vague steering feel as the price I pay for having Jeeps legendary off-road prowess, but that doesn't apply to the two-wheel drive model and that is where Jeep is hoping to make inroads. 

Jeep Compass

Price: $26,500-$34,000
Warranty: Three years, unlimited km
Resale: N/A
Service intervals: 12,000km
Engines: 2.0-litre four-cylinder, 115kW/190Nm; 2.5-litre four-cylinder, 125kW/220Nm
Transmissions: Five-speed manual, CVT; front and all-wheel drive
Body: Five-door wagon
Dimensions: 4448mm (L), 1812mm (W), 1718mm (H), 2635mm (WB), 15230mm/1520mm tracks front/rear
Weight: 1424kg-1586kg
Thirst: 7.6 litres/100km, 175g/km CO2 (2.0 manual); 8.2 litres/100km, 190g/km CO2 (2.0 CVT). 8.5 litres/100km, 201g/km CO2 (2.4 manual); 8.6 litres/100km, 199g/km CO2 (2.4 CVT)

Pricing Guides

$10,988
Based on 50 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$7,700
Highest Price
$14,995

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Limited (4x4) 2.4L, PULP, CVT AUTO $9,000 – 14,995 2012 Jeep Compass 2012 Limited (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Sport (4x2) 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $7,890 – 9,999 2012 Jeep Compass 2012 Sport (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Sport (4x4) 2.4L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $7,700 – 14,990 2012 Jeep Compass 2012 Sport (4x4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6