First test: Jeep Compass 2021, built in Italy

In order to better meet European customers’ needs, Jeep introduces an updated Compass wichi is also… the Stellantis era’s first new Jeep. Along with the Renegade, the Compass account for nearly half the brand’s sales in Europe. This new Compass takes on the Tiguan, 3008 and the Qashquai, to name just a few. We got behind the wheel of the petrol Limited version, which is rather intended for city driving as well as the hybrid Trailhawk. That version was designed with off-road use in mind. The new Compass is now built at the Melfi plant, in Italy.

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The Trailhawk version gets a look that’s a bot reminiscent of a 70’s muscle car, as well as specific bumpers suitable off-road use.

Gentle evolution

Externally, the changes are subtle: the front grille,  bumper and headlights have been revised. The overall look is more horizontal than before and the daytime running lights are positioned higher. The Trailhawk has specific bumpers more suitable for off-road use.  Its ground clearance is also higher (200 mm). The Compass is easy to use in town : with a 4.40m length, 1.87m width and 1.66m height, it can get anywere in narrow places. The 240 hp Trailhawk weighs 1860 kg. The manufacturer claims a 200 km/h top speed as well as a 0 to 100 km/h time in 7.3 seconds for it. The wheels have been redesigned and the Trailhawk has orange tow hooks at the front and rear to emphasise its off-road. character even more.

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Jeep still offers a 130 bhp diesel version, combined with a 6-speed manual gearbox.

New range

Jeep is offering two 1332cc petrol engines, with 130 and 150 hp, as well as two hybrids, with 190 and 240 hp, and a 1600cc diesel with 130 hp. The hybrid versions are available either with the 130 hp petrol engine or with a specific  180 hp and 270 Nm of torque at 1750 rpm version. They are linked to a 60 hp, 250 Nm three-phase synchronous electric motor located on the rear axle. The system, designed by  GKN (a British company), turns the Trailhawk into a real 4X4 without suffering the hindrance of a drive shaft.

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The Limited version is more an urban SUV. The brand’s typical grille is recognisable at first glance.

The lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 11.4 kWh and is located longitudinally under the bodywork. It can be recharged via a 7.4 kWh single-phase charging point.  The less powerful petrol and diesel versions come with a 6-speed manual gearbox, while the 150 hp version comes with a dual-clutch transmission as standard. The 6-speed automatic gearbox and e4WD are only available on the hybrid versions. No less than five trim levels are available: Sport, Longitude, Limited, S and Trailhawk (hybrid only). The range starts at €28,490 for the 1300 130 hp version in Sport trim, rising to €44,590 for the Trailhawk plug-in hybrid.

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The interior was completely redesigned. The dashboard now features a large central touchscreen and a digital instrument cluster.

New interior

It is inside that changes are mostly noticeable. The dashboard gets a new 10.3-inch touchscreen with voice recognition (just say « Hey Jeep! »), Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility. This version 5 of the Uconnect system can be updated remotely over the air. The revised Compass comes with Highway Assist, a Level 2 autonomous driving assistance system: road sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, automatic brake assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection that brakes the vehicle to a complete stop, driver attention monitoring and lane keeping are standard on all models. A new digital instrument cluster with a 10.1″ screen is another new feature.

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The front seats could do with a little more back and knee support when cornering… but it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position thanks to the power adjustments.

The larger central screen dictated the repositioning of the air vents. As a result, the dashboard is now split in two, with a new leatherette cover on the lower part and door panels adding a welcome touch of colour and luxury. The taller centre console offers more storage space and now includes a wireless charging area for your smartphone. A DAB radio and TomTom 3D interactive navigation complete the package. The interior space is very good for four or even five people. The boot has a minimum capacity of 430 litres.  The finish is very good and it is easy to find a comfortable driving position, thanks to the electric adjustments. The ergonomics of the controls are good, as is the position of the armrests on the doors.

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The 1300 cc petrol engine of the Limited we tested was the 150 hp version, mated to a dual clutch gearbox. The combo is quite well balanced and provides excellent performance on the road.

On the open road…

Both versions have quite similar road behaviour; the Trailhawk specific suspensions being less rigorous on the road than the Limited’s. However, the former has superior off- road abilities. The steering is neither the most precise nor the most communicative, even for an SUV… then, it does not suffer from torque steer. The automatic gearbox can sometimes feel hesitant between gears but this never lasts for very long. Braking is adequate on both versions and is easily balanced, the pedal being not over-assisted. On any main road or motorway, it is obvious that the Limited version is the better choice : lighter, with better suspension, it takes corners and curves cleanly, with a midge of alacrity. Body roll is always under control, even at speeds a tad above legal limits.

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The American fun factor is present in small details such as… this emblematic grille molded in the tailgate interior panel!

The Trailhawk lags a bit behind but has quite good off road capabilities. It’s even possible to select the type of ground you’re riding on : there are five different settings. Thanks to the hybrid set up, acceleration are rather « sporty »! The car can operate in three modes: 100% electric, with a maximum range of 50 km; as a conventional hybrid; and in e-save mode, to maintain the battery’s charge or get it to 80% of its capacity. In this case, the consumption of the combustion engine increases (by about 2.5 litres per 100 km.) It is therefore better to connect the vehicle to a charging box…

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The boot capacity is 430 litres with the back seat in position.

In conclusion, the new Compass rewrites some rules in the C-segment SUVs world, with a level of off-road capability that is very much in the Jeep tradition. The interior changes are also pretty striking. This should ensure a continued success for the Compass, which accounts for almost half of Jeep sales in Europe. (Text: Dimitri Urbain – Pictures Trailhawk: Pierre Fontignies).

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New wheels are part of the Compass range recent upgrades.

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