The new Compass is out to point the way for Jeep to gain ground in the small sports utility vehicle segment, one of the most competitive markets in the automotive world.

The legendary US four-wheel drive maker, famous for its Rubicon test regimen on the infamous eponymous trail, a 22-mile route, part road and part hellish 4×4 track, in the Sierra Nevada of the western United States, which all genuine off-road Jeeps have to endure during development, has imbued the MY22 Compass with the finer things in SUV life.

As Tom Noble, marketing and communications manager, Jeep Australia puts it, since its launch in 2017, the Compass has been renowned for its off-road capability, now we’re pairing that with advanced technology and premium interior styling.

The updated range kicks off with the Compass Launch Edition 2.4-litre petrol, six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive, with a focus on technology, safety and convenience in an affordable package – $37,950, plus on-road costs.

The Compass Limited ups the ante with nine-speed auto and four-wheel drive, for $43,950, followed by the 80th Anniversary ($47,941), Compass S-Limited ($46,950) and the Trailhawk 2.0-litre turbodiesel ($51,250). On test was the Compass S-Limited.

Although classified in the lightweight (compact) division, on first glance the Compass could well tip the scales into the middleweight class, such is the muscled body.

The wagon maintains the traditional Jeep upright stance, restyled with sculpted surfaces and 3-D effect added to the seven-slot grille. The once separate foglamp housing is now integrated into a single opening in the front bumper.

The black-based S-Limited test car was accented with metallic grey finishes on roof, exterior badging and new Granite Crystal multi-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels. Termed Neutral Grey by the maker, blink and you’ll miss them. Neutral, indeed.

Jeep’s genuine go-anywhere mid-range off-roaders, not generally known for their stylish, premium craftsman-like cabin interiors, have taken a turn for the better with the new Compass S-Limited.

Many elements of the cabin have been updated with special attention being given to the dashboard, centre console and door panels, all featuring quality materials.

Added to this in the test vehicle were black headliner and grey accent stitching in keeping with the striking exterior. The controls are integrated and easy to reach, as is the touchscreen, which has been elevated to the top of the dash.

Storage has been expanded, with 5 litres of space situated under the centre armrest. There’s an extra 2.4 litres next to the gearshift able to take a small tablet or the like.

The boot chips in with a massive 438 litres of luggage space. Access is via a new automatic tailgate, which can be opened by making a kicking motion under the bumper. Options intended to spoil the new owner include dual pane panoramic sun roof, ventilated and heated front seats, plus heated steering wheel and surround-view 360-degree camera.

The new Compass makes use of the new-generation Jeep Uconnect 5 system, based on a 10.1-inch digital touchscreen with access to music, apps, seat position, mirror angles and climate comfort levels, and frequent destinations, plus a ‘Valet’ mode.

Wireless integration comes via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, customisable one-touch operation home page, TomTom navigation with voice recognition and Alpine nine-speaker Premium audio.

A new Ultra HD 10.25-inch instrument cluster is standard on Limited, S-Limited and Trailhawk.

The new Compass S-Limited relies on Jeep’s tried and tested 2.4-litre Tigershark petrol engine, mated with a new nine-speed automatic transmission and Jeep Active Drive 4×4 and Selec-Terrain off-road systems.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, standard on new Compass includes traffic sign recognition, intelligent speed assist, drowsy driver alert and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist recognition.

Forward collision warning, lane sense departure warning, electronic stability control with electronic roll mitigation, plus front, side and curtain airbags are carried over from the previous generation.

The Compass S-Limited 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine went about a not-too-demanding workload with up to five occupants, plus their gear without much fuss.

Given a bit of a push off the mark, however, the odd gearshift was jerky but once up to cruising speed, the vehicle handled the bitumen and sections of gravel road with alacrity through efficient power delivery. Steering was on the stiff side, even on smooth bitumen.

As for fuel consumption, Jeep claims a combined urban / highway consumption of 9.7 litres per 100 kilometres. The test S-Limited recorded 10 litres per 100 kilometres across a range of driving conditions.

At night the front lighting shone in more ways than one, the LED lamps twice as bright as the previous Xenons, with greater depth of field and wider beam.

The seats were a trifle unwelcoming, being flat, firm and lacking lateral support, which could be a problem in rough going off road. Head and shoulder space were more-than ample for average-size occupants.

Jeep has realised it cannot rely on the company’s raw off-road credentials to match the sophistication of the modern compact SUV. The Compass is heading in the right direction to take up the battle against some of the most competitive rivals on the planet. Good luck.


Compass Launch Edition petrol 6sp auto FWD $37,950
Compass Limited petrol 9sp auto 4×4 $43,950
Compass 80th Anniversary petrol 9sp auto 4×4 $47,941
Compass S-Limited petrol 9sp auto 4×4 $46,950
Compass Trailhawk diesel 9sp auto 4×4 $51,250
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Jeep dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Jeep Compass S-Limited 2.4L 4-cylinder petrol, 9sp automatic, 4×4)

Capacity: 2.359 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 129 kW @ 6400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 229 Nm @ 3900 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 9.7 L/100km

DRIVELINE: Nine-speed automatic transmission, 4×4

Length: 4394 mm
Wheelbase: 2636 mm
Width: 1819 mm
Height: 1644 mm
Turning Circle: 11.07 metres
Kerb Mass: 1503 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 66 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

Looks: 8/10
Performance: 5/10
Safety: 5/10
Thirst : 7/10
Practicality: 5/10
Comfort: 7/10
Tech: 5/10
Value: 7/10
Overall: 6.2/10

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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