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
The Jeep Compass is a chunky family SUV with off-road-inspired styling, a reasonably practical boot and decent space in the back seats but it feels 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 Compass can carry a smidge more than the Qashqai but lags some distance behind the Peugeot 3008. 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.
It might not be a hardcore off-roader but the Compass is far happier traipsing across muddy fields than most SUVs
If you regularly find yourself carrying lots of heavy luggage you’ll want to consider one of the 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.
Sadly, even with this auto fitted the Compass isn’t quite as relaxing to drive as the Qashqai – it doesn’t iron out potholes as well as the Nissan and you’ll hear more wind and tyre noise at motorway speeds. On twisty country roads its body leans more than the Qashqai 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 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 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 it’s still worth a look.