Jeep Compass Review
The Jeep Compass’ beefy styling certainly helps it stand out from the current crop of family SUVs, but it isn’t all that good to drive and feels quite cheap in places
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This might look like a Jeep Grand Cherokee that’s been shrunk on a hot wash, but the Jeep Compass is actually Jeep’s smaller family SUV. It has similar off-road-inspired styling, a reasonably practical boot and decent space in the back seats, although it does feel distinctly cheaper inside than plenty of plusher alternatives.
That isn’t to say the Compass’ cabin looks particularly dull – all but entry-level cars come with a large 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system and you can get a selection of glossy inserts in a range of colours to brighten up its interior. It’s reasonably roomy in the front but lots of hard plastics let the side down and alternatives have more space for tall adults to stretch out in the back.
It’s a similar story when it comes to boot space. The Jeep Compass can carry a smidge more than a Nissan Qashqai but lags some distance behind a Peugeot 3008 or Skoda Karoq. There’s enough space to carry a bike with the back seats down however, and the Jeep’s flat floor helps makes loading heavy boxes pretty easy.
If you regularly find yourself carrying lots of heavy luggage you’ll want to consider one of the Jeep Compass’ diesel engines. Both the 1.6-litre and more powerful 2.0-litre models will be cheaper to run than the 1.4-litre petrol if you do lots of long motorway miles and come with four-wheel drive as standard to help you tackle icy driveways in winter. You can also get an automatic gearbox to help take the stress out of long journeys.
Although most owners won't bother, the Compass is far happier traipsing across muddy fields than most SUVs
Sadly, even with this auto fitted the Compass isn’t as relaxing to drive as a Qashqai, 3008 or Karoq – it doesn’t iron out potholes as well as those cars and you’ll hear more wind and tyre noise at motorway speeds. On twisty country roads, its body leans more than them, too, so your passengers in the back might feel a little queasy after a few hours on the road.
Things don’t really improve at slow speeds or around town. The Jeep Compass’ steering is very light which makes it easy to manoeuvre but it feels unsettled on rough roads and the small rear windows can make it a little tricky to park.
Thankfully, it comes with plenty of high-tech safety kit to help prevent avoidable collisions – it even earned an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in the strict 2017 crash tests.
This alone doesn’t quite make up for the Jeep Compass’ shortcomings in the company of some other well-rounded family SUVs, however. If you’re looking for something with funky styling and enough off-road ability to make light work of the odd muddy field then check our deals pages for the best prices.
Both the Compass’s rear space and boot are average versus alternative family SUVs.
The Jeep Compass might look a little like a Grand Cherokee, but it feels much smaller inside – especially for adults sat in the back on a long journey.
Two adults won’t have any complaints sat in the Compass’s front seats. There’s good head room – even with the optional sunroof on Limited cars – generous leg room and there’s no danger of rubbing shoulders.
The driver gets a good amount of manual seat adjustment as standard, although there’s no lumbar adjustment and the steering wheel adjustment is less plentiful. From Limited models the front seats become eight-way electrically adjustable, including at the lumbar.
The space in the rear is less impressive. A couple of adults will have just enough head room without the sunroof, but less with it and knee room is tight, while a third rear passenger will make it a squeeze on the shoulder room front.
All-told, a Skoda Karoq and Peugeot 3008 are both better bets if you regularly carry people in the back seats.
The Jeep Compass is pretty poor for storage space. Its glovebox is an average size, its front door bins are really quite small with narrow openings and there aren’t any useful cubbies around the gear lever to speak of.
Just behind the gear lever are two decent cup holders, though, and the central armrest can at least be flipped up to reveal a cubby beneath for chucking your phone and keys into.
In the back, the door bins aren’t any better than in the front, but you do get a pocket on the back of each front seat, as well as a couple of further cup holders on the standard flip down armrest between the rear seats.
The Jeep Compass has a 438 litre boot, which is around 100 litres less than a Skoda Karoq or Peugeot 3008, although a Nissan Qashqai offers slightly less. Ultimately, the Jeep will take a couple of large suitcases or a set of golf clubs or pushchair plus some extra small bags without much fuss, but you’ll get more in other family SUVs.
All models do come with an adjustable boot floor, but in its lowest position it leaves quite a large lip for lifting heavy bags over. Still, it does mean that when you fold down the rear seats (nearly flat in a 60:40 configuration) you can eliminate the step up from the boot floor to the seat backs.
Inside you’ll find a couple of small cubbies for storage and some tethering hooks.
Although few family SUVs will keep up with the Jeep Compass off-road, on-road it’s uncomfortable, noisy and far from enjoyable around corners.
Nobody is looking to set lap times in a family SUV, but the Compass’s sloppy drive frustrates nonetheless. There are plenty of preferable alternatives in this area.
You can get the Compass with two petrol and three diesel engines. You can also choose between a manual or automatic gearbox and front or four-wheel-drive.
Pick a 1.4-litre petrol model if you spend most time around town – the 140hp version with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox can return nearly 35mpg. It’s not the quietest engine out there but it’s slightly smoother than the rather grumbly diesels.
The 120hp 1.6-litre or 140hp 2.0-litre diesels will suit you better if you spend more time on the motorway. They’re noticeably louder than both petrol models but pull harder from low revs and feel more than powerful enough to keep up with fast-moving traffic. Both will return more than 40mpg if driven carefully, too.
The Jeep Compass struggles to remain composed over bumps in town, and things get worse as you move up the range and the standard wheel size gets bigger. At least its steering is light and seeing out of it isn’t too much of a chore for parking and negotiating T-junctions and roundabouts.
There’s little fun to be had on winding country roads, though. The Compass’s steering is slow and offers very little idea of what the front wheels are up to, while it leans quite a bit through tight corners, which doesn’t inspire much confidence. On the motorway it’s noisier than alternatives too.
However, if you spend most of your time off-road, then the Compass offers something those alternatives can’t – it’s by far the best of its type on the rough stuff with four-wheel drive. Especially if you go for the range-topping Trailhawk, which also gets an even higher ride height, a rock crawl driving mode, hill descent control and underbody skid plates that’ll all help you get even further from the Tarmac.
The Compass is neither particularly high-tech, nor high-quality. There are better family SUVs if you value either.