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Jeep Compass 2021 review: S-Limited

This looks like a mini Grand Cherokee, neat and compact.

Interested in a compact SUV and want something slightly more prestigious than a Japanese or Korean car but don’t want to extend all the way to European models?

Enter the Jeep Compass. It slots neatly in line next to a Mazda CX-3 or Hyundai Kona but hails from North America, bringing with it the cachet Jeep has earned in a much smaller version of an SUV than the Wrangler or the Cherokee

I test drove the Jeep Compass S- Limited which costs $49,850 (that’s really getting up there for a small SUV, North American or not), but it is tricked out with a bunch of features even though there is still one model higher in the range. Here’s how it fared for this week’s family review. 

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✅ How does it look?

Like a mini Grand Cherokee, with wide, rough grille and a square-ish shape that actually suits the Compass, I’m not usually a fan of square rides but this works. And there’s the two tone, which also looks good on a Jeep

Inside looks good. I do feel like they’re playing on their reputation for tough and rugged cars where it makes more sense to have an old-school, non-digital display in front of the steering wheel, rather than make it super modern.

You can option two tone paint on the Compass. You can option two tone paint on the Compass.

It suits the feel of the car but I wonder if you jumped into a competitor with more tech you wouldn’t go for that one. 

The seats are leather and there’s also a leather steering wheel. The centre console is nicely designed with well thought out placement of buttons and knobs. The screen fits neatly inside the dash which I always appreciate rather than sticking out of the top. It feels good to sit in this car. 

Inside plays on Jeep's reputation for tough and rugged cars. Inside plays on Jeep's reputation for tough and rugged cars.

✅ How does it drive?

It drives well and there’s nothing particularly wrong with it, however I did find the steering slightly heavy for this size car.

I can understand that on a large car, but on a small SUV I would like to feel as though I could zip around town. Things take a little longer to move in here. 

The 2.4-litre petrol four-cylinder produces 129kW/229Nm. The 2.4-litre petrol four-cylinder produces 129kW/229Nm.

There’s a 2.4L engine which gives plenty of power for this size car so you’ll easily zoom up hills and coast along highways. It’s an AWD which means you’ll get good traction on slippery road surfaces like heavy rain, gravel, dirt or snow. There is a 2WD option in the range if this is not on your must-have list. 

Parking is relatively easy given the compact size of the Compass and the heavy-ish steering doesn't stop you from squeezing into a car space. There’s a reverse parking camera to help you out. 

✅ How spacious is it?

Here’s a bonus point for the Compass: I didn’t actually realise this was a compact SUV when I first saw it. It has enough interior space that it’s creeping up to a mid-size.

Which is how you want your compact SUV to be: great interior space is key for a family and this fit mine well, with a good amount of leg and head room in the front for taller adults and enough space for kids to slide around (a little) in the back. 

  • There's a good amount of leg and head room in the front for taller adult. There's a good amount of leg and head room in the front for taller adult.
  • There's enough space for kids to slide around in the back.  There's enough space for kids to slide around in the back. 

I could also fit nicely into the back seat and there was enough space between my knees and the seat in front that longer limbed adults should be comfortable back there, too. 

The boot is not huge, but being a compact SUV it doesn’t have to be, and it still weighs in at a very decent 438L which is almost as much as some mid-size SUVs. It will fit a pram in there and you won’t have trouble with groceries or school bags.

  • Cargo space is rated at 438-litres. Cargo space is rated at 438-litres.
  • The boot will easily fit a pram, groceries or school bags. The boot will easily fit a pram, groceries or school bags.

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

The park brake turns off automatically, which I always think is one of those extra steps you’re happy to take off your mind. The front seats are power adjustable and also heated, plus there’s a power tailgate. 

The front seats are power adjustable and also heated. The front seats are power adjustable and also heated.

There are two cupholders in the front, a centre storage bin, a small space for keys and a phone plus bottle holders in each door. Rear passengers get two cupholders in the centre armrest which is not something you see in most small SUVs, and no directional air vents, an omission which is fairly standard in this category. 

✅ How safe is it?

✅ What’s the tech like?

There’s an 8.4-inch touchscreen that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technology. Plug in and your phone’s main apps will pop up on the screen so you can make calls/send texts/navigate via maps/listen to music or podcasts or books. It’s the best technology around today and most cars have it now. 

The 8.4-inch touchscreen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 8.4-inch touchscreen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

✅ How much does it cost to own?


The Wrap

The Jeep Compass makes for a good compact family car, with more interior space than expected for a small SUV. It looks good, has a lot of features included which is expected considering the higher price point, and it drives well enough with all the safety and tech you’d require for a family car. 

I gave it a family rating of 7.5 out of 10 and my kids gave it the same. They like the two tone exterior. 

Likes

Exterior design
Interior space
Safety

Dislikes

Heavy steering
High fuel consumption
Low-tech instruments

Scores

Nedahl:

3.8

The Kids:

3.8

$45,950

Based on new car retail price

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