Jeep Compass 2.2-litre CRD Sport Plus
Compass steals some of its styling cues from the Grand Cherokee
- Sleek, modern looks
- Available in two-wheel drive form
- Easy to drive
- High roof line and good headroom
- Not enough control around the corners
- Flustered by bumps
- Noticeable road and wind noise
- Steering lacks some involvement
Competing in the growing compact SUV segment, this second generation Jeep Compass has been designed to appeal to a wide audience. Along with improved economy it's the first Jeep to offer two-wheel drive options which aim to attract hatchback owners who want to trade up and larger 4x4 owners who want to downsize.
With good fuel economy and off-road capability in the compact-SUV segment, the 2011 Jeep Compass blends strengths from the previous model such as high equipment levels, affordability, interior flexibility and economy with a new sophisticated design and a revised chassis and cabin.
There's a restyled front end which bears some resemblance to that of the Grand Cherokee and gives the Compass a much more modern, defined look. Several exterior details are now ringed with chrome and the grille combines with a new bumper, front valance, reflector head lights and projector fog lights.
Inside, upgrades include new soft-touch trim panels, new seats, a chunkier steering wheel with integrated cruise control and stereo controls. The Compass also comes with an iPod connection, electric sunroof and fold-flat rear seats.
Out on the road, the Compass is easy to drive and feels like a smaller vehicle than it is. The 2.2-litre diesel engine is competent and delivers a strong performance once the car has built up speed. The ride quality and handling could be better and the Compass can feel a little bit unsettled on the B-roads and over bumps.
Our verdict on the Jeep Compass 2.2-litre CRD Sport Plus
The Compass is priced to undercut rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Tiguan and it offers generous levels of power, economy, sophisticated design and high equipment levels for a reasonable price.
The Compass is cheaper to buy and run than some of its key rivals and offers good fuel economy that compares well to conventional family cars. Jeep has cleverly pitched the Compass as an easy to drive but more versatile alternative, which should appeal to active types.
Space and practicality
Headroom and legroom in both the front and back of the car is good and the Compass can certainly hold four six-foot adults without any trouble. There's a generous glovebox and door pockets. A spacious boot offers 436 litres of space with the rear seats in place, and folding them increases that capacity to 1,277 litres.
Controls and display
The simple interior styling is combined with displays and buttons that are easy to navigate and understand. The Compass is complete with new interior appointments including a modern three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated controls that operate the radio, hands-free system and other functions.
Some people may find it hard to get comfortable, because the steering wheel adjusts for height only. The Compass comes with plenty of standard equipment though and every model apart from the Sport has automatic climate control.
Fitted as standard is an alarm system, which incorporates the remote central locking with keyless entry. As SUVs of all kinds are popular, you might want to consider an aftermarket device - possibly a steering lock or security etching - to further deter the casual thief.
The Compass comes with over 30 safety and security features, including side-curtain air bags, electronic stability control, electronic roll control, hill-start assist (for manual gearbox). The retractable rear load cover adds security by keeping valuables out of sight.
The Compass is easy to drive and it has car-like dynamics which make it great for every day driving. However, the ride and handling could be improved and there is a little too much road and wind noise. In this competitive market the Compass could drop behind more adept rivals that feel better to drive on the road. It is a capable 4x4 though and the four-wheel drive diesel has good towing capability.
Family car appeal
There is no doubt that the Jeep Compass has bags of family appeal; it is practical and has good levels of equipment and space which can be increased by dropping the split-folding rear seats. The cabin is a good size and is full of durable, easy to clean materials and the generous boot capacity should also attract family buyers.
First car appeal
The Compass is easy to drive but it is too big and expensive to be considered as a first car. You do sit high up, which will help with forward visibility and parking, but there's no getting away from the fact that a supermini will be easier to drive and run.
Quality and image
The Jeep Compass has been heavily revised to appeal to a wider customer base and gone is the familiar bug-eyed look of the previous generation model. With styling borrowed from the Grand Cherokee it has a premium feel and modern look.
With its high roofline and four doors you will never find yourself having to stoop down to get inside. Getting in and out is easy and there's good interior space in the front and the rear seats can fold flat. Options for added versatility include reclining rear seats and a passenger front seat that also folds flat.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The Sport and Sport Plus variants get a media centre with CD player and MP3 compatibility as standard. The Limited and 70th Anniversary variants also get MP3 compatibility, a six-CD changer and DVD entertainment. For better sound quality there's the optional nine-speaker premium sound system.
Colours and trim
The sleek shape of the Compass is best enhanced by the gleaming, brilliant black option. Those who prefer a colour that stands out in the car park may opt for the bright white or deep cherry red. Inside dark slate grey gives the interior a classy look and is good for concealing dirt and minor stains.
The Compass is compact, easy to drive and the visibility is good which makes parking and maneuvering straightforward. The high driving position and big windows enable the driver to scan and observe the road perfectly.
Full size spare wheel.
Petrol engine options - 2.0-litre (154bhp); 2.4-litre (168bhp). Diesel engine options - 2.2-litre CRD (134bhp); 2.2-litre CRD (161bhp). Transmission: five-speed manual, six-speed manual, CVT automatic, plus two-wheel and four-wheel drive options. Trim levels: Sport, Sport+, Limited, 70th Anniversary.
Ford Kuga Agile chassis and good traction, not the most practical
Nissan Qashqai Good levels of refinement, space and comfort
Volkswagen Tiguan Great to drive and good all-rounder but ride is firm
Honda C-RV Practical and affordable but off-road ability isn't great