Car Reviews Reviews

2017 Jeep Compass SUV: Test Drive Review

Parichay Malvankar
Written by Parichay Malvankar

It’s a JEEP THING today! This is the Made-in-India Jeep Compass which is going to be launched soon. This is also going to be a sensibly priced Jeep SUV in India, and the brand is expecting that this product will help them carve a niche in our market with decent volumes.

Exterior:
One look at the compass, and the styling is true to the Jeep DNA. The Compass looks like a scaled down version of the Grand Cherokee with plenty of design elements unique to itself. The Compass has a bold and imposing design while being timeless at the same time.

At the front, you have the iconic 7-slat chrome grille which is wider and gets chrome accents. Illumination setup includes LED DRLs & projector headlamps, cornering lamps, turn indicators placed separately & fog lamps. Bumpers get a generous amount of cladding, which will help it off-road happily without worrying about scratches. The front bumper though has a few open spaces, which could allow small elements to be thrown straight on the radiator.

Side profile of the Compass SUV highlights the floating roof & the square wheel arches. You also get a unique chrome strip which follows the blackened roof, and not conventionally placed as a weather strip on the doors. The Compass bagding sits on either front doors and not on the boot. Alloy wheel design is decent too.

At the back, the chrome strip around the rear glass is seen the most. LED tail lamps, rear fog lamps, spoiler with stop lamp, dual coloured bumper and variant badging wraps up the styling department well.

Interior:

Step inside the compass and the even without generous greenhouse, the dual tone greige and black interior theme with red contrast stitching feels airy and premium. There’s leather seats, leather wrapped steering, soft touch dashboard & padded door pads which make the cabin experience very pleasing.

Dashboard design isn’t best-in-class, but should be able to justify the price the Compass would demand. Steering wheel has the necessary controls, but the volume & track toggle switches are placed behind on the wheel, where your fingers would rest. Instrument console is very easy to read in its twin pot layout and the centre MID shows you data such as speed, trip meter, fuel consumption data, temperature, and more.

There’s piano black trims on the dashboard, which would reveal dust clearly during your ownership. uConnect 7” touchscreen infotainment experience could have been better though. It does have a fantastic sound output from the 6-speakers, but the touchscreen display and response time is what we think has qutite some room to improve.

The automatic climate control has dual zone cooling, but the temperature is displayed on the infotainment, and not around the AC panel. What we like is the metallic golf-ball like gear knob.

Seats at the front are nice and supportive. Also, the seat compound is soft and has a nice cushiony feel to it. There’s decent headroom too and your feet along with your knees remain happy without any kind of obstruction. To allow some room, Jeep has added an electronic parking brake which results in easy AC ducting from the centre for the rear passengers. Storage spaces though are limited, compared to what the Indian audience is used to.

At the back, you have ample leg room, headroom and the same soft seats which keep you happy when being driven around. The rear seat back angle should have been a little more reclined, as there is no adjustment available. It is rather upright in its current state, but the under thigh support is some comfort.

Backseat occupants also get AC vents and a USB charging point which connects to Android Auto & Apple CarPlay. There’s a noticeable transmission hump, but the 5th occupant can still make his / her way in.

Boot space has enough space to eat up your luggage on those long drives. Also, the rear parcel tray with recesses allows you to park oddities.

Engine, Performance and Handling:
With the Jeep Compass, Indian audience gets a taste of the new 2.0L, Multijet II diesel engine. This is also a made-in-india only engine, and is making a world premiere. This 4-cylinder, turbocharged motor produces 173 PS of power @ 3750 RPM and 350 Nm of torque @ 1750 – 2500 RPM matched to a 6-speed gearbox.

Jeep has worked hard in making the cabin experience better with enough deadening material to keep NVH levels low. The Compass has a button to start the engine, but you have to hold it till the motor is fired up.

Now, this is a JEEP, and staying true to its DNA, let’s first talk about the off-road abilities of the Compass. Jeep has offered a shift-on-fly setup for 4×4 with a dial placed below the AC controls which has 4 modes such as – snow, sand, mud & auto. You also have a 4WD lock option, but there’s no 4-low function, but let’s hope the Trailhawk variant would have it, if at all it comes to India.

The Compass drives over sand, slush & small rocky terrain with ease. But sadly, the 155mm ground clearance makes you think while exploring the wilderness. Overall, the off-road experience is far superior to its segment rivals, and that’s what makes the Compass stand out.

To start driving the compass, you not only need to fire it up with the clutch pressed, but it will move only once you have the seat belt in place. Starting from 0 kmph, the Compass does stall at times, but once you get going, the driveability is decent. There’s enough torque available on tap throughout the revv range to keep you going. The gearbox is also slick and gear gates are well defined.

The compass delivers power & torque in linear fashion and climbing to triple digit speeds is easy. The engine does get a little boomy when pushed hard with noise creeping in. Mid-range performance is very enjoyable.

Suspension setup on the Compass is sightly superior in its kit as it comes with frequency selective dampers. It ensures that the ride remains flat on the highway and during off-roading as well. The car soaks up bumps and undulations on the road very well, and even the steering wheel weighs up adequately.

Safety features include electric parking brake, 6-airbags, traction control system, ABS with EBD, Electronic roll mitigation and hill start assist.

Verdict:
With pricing expected around Rs. 25 lakh, the Jeep Compass is a capable SUV to look out for. Slotting in a segment where it would rival the likes of Volkswagen Tiguan, the Compass has enough kit & character to get things working in its favour. The looks are good, space is good and even the motor would keep the driving enthusiasts happy.

About the author

Parichay Malvankar

Parichay Malvankar

Founder, owner and editor-in-chief of www.Shifting-Gears.com; a born gearhead, nothing apart from a set of wheels gets his pulse racing.