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Jeep Compass Limited petrol 2018 review

The Compass looks like a shrunken version of the Grand Cherokee. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)
EXPERT RATING
7
Jeep’s updated Compass is a rare bird: a small SUV with off-road capabilities, but can it handle city living?

Okay, I'll admit - I deserve the 'World's Worst Boyfriend' award. I forgot my girlfriend's birthday was coming up, which is quite bad, although I'm sure other men have done it. What makes it 1000 times worse, and pushes it into unforgivable territory, is the fact we share the same birthday.

Fortunately, I remembered before it was a complete disaster, but I had to sneak off in a petrol Jeep Compass Limited to grab some last-minute gifts over the weekend

Sadly, not everything goes to plan and before I knew it, I was off to the shops with my significant other, plus her best friend.

Saturday

I shouldn’t have said I was heading to Parramatta Westfield, but it’s Saturday and we’re going to pick up my girlfriend’s mate.

How am I going to keep the presents a surprise with them there? That was a problem to worry about later. For now I was more focused on the Jeep Compass.

This is one of the smaller SUVs in the Jeep range, sitting above the Renegade and below the Cherokee. While I’m not the biggest fan of Jeep’s styling, I find the Compass refreshing compared to other small SUVs.

I find the the styling refreshing compared to other small SUVs. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk) I find the the styling refreshing compared to other small SUVs. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)

You can be forgiven for thinking most small SUVs appear the same, but the only other car with a similar design to the Compass is the Grand Cherokee.

It looks like a shrunken version of Jeep’s larger SUV with its signature seven-slot grille, bonnet bulge and pumped-out wheel arches.

The Compass gets a seven-slot grille, bonnet bulge and pumped-out wheel arches. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk) The Compass gets a seven-slot grille, bonnet bulge and pumped-out wheel arches. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)

The Compass is tough and gives off the vibe that it can go off-road, unlike a lot of the competition, but more on that tomorrow.

I wish I could give the interior similar praise as the exterior, but sadly, it’s all very... American. There are large buttons everywhere so chubby fingers don’t press two switches at the same time; with many in the wrong spot.

The interior is littered with large buttons. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk) The interior is littered with large buttons. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)

The perfect example of this is the volume and track controls on the steering wheel. Instead of having them in front of you, the buttons are on the back of the wheel and I was consistently getting them confused. If I wanted to change the volume, I would annoyingly change the song.

Yes, longer-term familiarity would ease the problem, but the layout is far from intuitive.

Easily the highlight of the cabin is the 8.4-inch touchscreen, which is exclusive to the Limited and Trailhawk models.

This takes care of the built-in sat nav, digital radio (DAB), Bluetooth, reversing camera, heated front seats, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. 

Other positives include the panoramic sunroof, rear air vents and a rear USB port, which came in handy for our back passenger who needed to charge her phone.

Back seat passengers get air vents and a USB port. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk) Back seat passengers get air vents and a USB port. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)

After picking up our friend, it was off to Parramatta Westfield to somehow buy these presents without anyone discovering what I was up to.

The Compass isn’t a large car, but when navigating through a tight shopping centre car park the walls close in on you. This is partly down to the bulky exterior, you’re not 100 per cent sure where parts of the car end. Thankfully front and rear parking sensors help with this issue.

After my stealthy shopping it was back to the Compass and luckily, with the rear seats up there’s 438 litres (VDA) of boot space (1251 with the seats down). Plenty of room to hide gifts under our weekly shopping. Mission accomplished.

  • With the rear seats up there’s 438 litres (VDA) of boot space. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk) With the rear seats up there’s 438 litres (VDA) of boot space. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)
  • With the seats down, the storage grows to 1251 litres. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk) With the seats down, the storage grows to 1251 litres. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)

Sunday

On Sunday, it was time to see if the Compass Limited could live up to Jeep’s tough off-road heritage.

Our cross-country location would be the Belanglo State Forest (135km south-west of Sydney), unfortunately famous for the Milat backpacker murders of the late '80s, early '90s.

The trip took an hour and a half, but seemed longer because of the engine.

Powered by a 2.4-litre petrol four-cylinder unit, producing 129kW/229Nm, the engine feels asthmatic at the best of times. Getting up to speed can be a challenge unless you drive with your foot flat to the floor.

Power comes from a 2.4-litre petrol four-cylinder unit, which produces 129kW/229Nm. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk) Power comes from a 2.4-litre petrol four-cylinder unit, which produces 129kW/229Nm. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)

The nine-speed automatic also plays a part, as it doesn't always know what gear to be in.

A 1503kg kerb weight and four-wheel drive system also hinders the acceleration and increases the fuel consumption, but I’ll touch on that later.

I believe the Limited is best had with the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine. It produces less power (125kW) than the petrol, but makes more torque (350Nm), the peak available lower in the rev range.

Another issue I have with the Limited is the price. Our test car cost $46,145 before on road costs, and thanks to several fitted options, our example demanded $4895 over standard issueLimited.

For $46K you get leather seats, a 7.0-inch colour instrument cluster, a panoramic sunroof ($1950!), two tone paint ($495), 18-inch alloy wheels, park assist and an extensive list of other equipment.

The limited receives 18-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk) The limited receives 18-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)

However, Auto Emergency Braking (AEB) is missing from the Limited along with a selection of other advanced safety features. The 'Technology Pack' ($2450) adds AEB, exterior mirror courtesy light, power liftgate, adaptive cruise with stop and go, auto high beam and blind spot monitoring with rear cross path detection. If you’re already spending over $40,000, it's disappointing to see these features as optional.

For less money you can have a Hyundai Tucson Elite AWD ($41,250), Nissan Qashqai Ti ($37,990), or Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed AWD ($38,500) all of which come with similar equipment, but as standard.

Although, none of those can quite match the Compass for off-road manners.

As colleague Richard Berry discovered on the Compass launch, the Limited has serious off-road capabilities, and while I didn’t fully explore its bush-bashing potential, I did take it off the beaten track.

Unlike other small SUVs, the Compass feels confident on dirt roads, it isn’t unsettled by bumps and could easily handle more challenging terrain.

This is down to a few things, such as the four-wheel drive and Jeep’s 'Selec-Terrain' traction management system, featuring five modes: Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock.

Back to the fuel usage, despite the cool name, 'Tigershark', the petrol unit needs to consider AA because it has a drinking problem. The Limited guzzled fuel like a V8, and by the end of the weekend I had recorded 10.9 litres/100km, next to the claimed (combined cycle) figure of 9.7/100km.

Verdict

Whether its on-road or off-road, the Jeep Compass Limited handles itself nicely, but it isn’t perfect. The petrol engine is thirsty, it’s expensive relative to the competition and you need to pay extra for safety equipment that should be standard. But if you want a small SUV that can go beyond city streets, look no further than the Compass.

Is the Compass Limited your small SUV of choice? Let us know in the comments.

Pricing Guides

$34,990
Based on 158 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$21,985
Highest Price
$51,950

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Limited (4x4) 2.0L, Diesel, 9 SP AUTO $30,990 – 49,524 2018 JEEP COMPASS 2018 Limited (4x4) Pricing and Specs
LONGITUDE (FWD) 2.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $25,990 – 37,290 2018 JEEP COMPASS 2018 LONGITUDE (FWD) Pricing and Specs
SPORT (FWD) 2.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $21,985 – 32,545 2018 JEEP COMPASS 2018 SPORT (FWD) Pricing and Specs
TRAILHAWK (4x4 LOW) 2.0L, Diesel, 9 SP AUTO $33,998 – 51,950 2018 JEEP COMPASS 2018 TRAILHAWK (4x4 LOW) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Mitchell Tulk
Production Assistant

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