The Jeep Compass is a medium-sized SUV that has undergone a minor exterior facelift but crucially is now available as a plug-in hybrid branded as the Compass 4xe (pronounced ‘four-by-e’), as well as a petrol model. It has a new infotainment system, and impressive off-road performance, but is underpowered and suffers from a very small fuel tank that will see you constantly refilling. It is also up against models such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage and Ford Kuga, which present a challenge.
“The Compass 4xe is your car of choice if you’re after low running costs”
The list price for the Compass looks quite steep compared with some competitors that have better tech on board. However, with up to 30 miles of electric-only running, a possible 44g/km of CO2 and access to low-emissions zones, the Compass 4xe is your car of choice if you’re after low running costs. It will appeal to company drivers in particular, with tax in mind. Otherwise it’s the 1.3-litre petrol version, which emits 20g/km less than its predecessor, thus saving you slightly more money.
Expert rating: 3/5
Reliability of a Jeep Compass
“Jeep is part of the Fiat family, and none of its brands traditionally have fared well for reliability or build quality”
The big news is the new Jeep Wave customer care programme, covering maintenance and roadside assistance. Jeep’s plug-in hybrid reliability is currently being put to the test in the Renegade 4xe. It’s still too early, however, to gather much data. There’s also a brand-new infotainment system in the car that is a big improvement on the previous version, so fingers crossed. Jeep is part of the Fiat family, and none of its brands traditionally have fared well for reliability or build quality. There’s a decent five-year/75,000-mile warranty, however, which is more generous than the industry average.
Expert rating: 3/5
Safety for a Jeep Compass
“You now get traffic-sign recognition, drowsy-driver detection, intelligent speed assist and emergency braking”
From 2022, the Compass comes with Highway Assist, which combines active cruise control and lane centring, to give you semi-autonomous driving, much like Tesla Autopilot. You still need to demonstrate that you retain control of the car, through a hand on the steering wheel. You now get traffic-sign recognition, drowsy-driver detection, intelligent speed assist and emergency braking for pedestrians and cyclists fitted as standard. A reversing camera is also standard, while a 360-degree camera is an option. Front, side and curtain airbags are standard.
Expert rating: 4/5
How comfortable is the Jeep Compass
“The new infotainment system smartens up the interior, which is really spacious in the manner of all good American SUVs”
Though the base trim doesn’t have the huge digital instrument cluster on cars where it is included the new infotainment system smartens up the interior, which is really spacious in the manner of all good American SUVs thanks to loads of light and plenty of leg- and headroom. Some of the buttons and functionality are clunky, and certainly not on a par with interiors from Land Rover, Volvo or Audi, which makes the price of the Compass seem a bit, well, pricey. But the dash has been redesigned to make it more streamlined and smart, and there’s significantly more storage space up front.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Jeep Compass
“Wireless smartphone mirroring with Apple and Android phones is also standard, which is generous”
There are four trim levels: Nighteagle, Limited, S and Trailhawk. A new ‘Uconnect’ infotainment system means the Compass has decent sat-nav, which is a first in a Jeep - rejoice. It is actually a game changer if you’re remotely bothered by tech, which many buyers are these days. Wireless smartphone mirroring with Apple and Android phones is also standard, which is generous. You also get Amazon Alexa and can say ‘Hey Jeep’ to access certain functions like searching for a nearby restaurant. A button for hybrid users allows drivers to save the battery's charge until they need to switch to electric, like when entering a low-emission zone or off-roading, where the electric motor will provide traction to the rear wheels, turning the Compass into a true 4x4.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Jeep Compass
“We’d venture the 130 horsepower petrol-only version should probably be avoided, unless you like living in the slow lane”
We tested the plug-in hybrid (4xe) version, which uses the 1.3-litre engine of the petrol version alongside an electric motor. The engine powers the front wheels and the motor the rear wheels, giving all-wheel drive when both are running. The combined power output is 240 horsepower, which you’d think would be sufficient, but in the Compass it feels weak, with little power for overtaking or accelerating on slip roads. Based on this experience we’d venture the 130 horsepower petrol-only version should probably be avoided, unless you like living in the slow lane.
The 4xe gives you the choice of running on electric only, petrol only or combined. But it has a tiny fuel tank, meaning the maximum combined range you’ll get with a full tank and fully charged battery is less than 300 miles. Not great in a family car built for long journeys.
On the plus side, we took the Compass 4xe off-roading on a course that would put Land Rover through its paces, and it was not found wanting. It had incredible ground clearance front and rear, good wading depth and fantastic hill descent control down some extreme muddy banks, braking each wheel individually at crawling pace. Close your eyes and you could be in a Defender, which is high praise indeed.