When Jeep decided to enter Indian market, they took the top-down strategy. By launching the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler, Jeep established itself as a premium SUV brand and now wants to go for the bigger share of the pie with the Compass. Ever since its unveiling, Jeep Compass has been making news for all the right reasons - a proper SUV with Jeep credentials, real 4x4 capabilities and a ‘Made in India’ tag that makes it more affordable. Are these good enough? Will the Compass be to the Jeep what Duster was to Renault? Let’s find out.
Starting with the looks, Jeep Compass maybe called the baby SUV in the Jeep portfolio but it still measures 4395 mm in length. The overall styling makes the car look like a mini-Cherokee and that’s a good thing. What’s more important is that the Compass looks like a SUV and not the current crop of crossovers or SUV-wannabes. The styling is butch and sleek, with the Jeep seven slot grille, sleek headlamps with stylish daytime running lights, beefy bumper with large air dam and bulged bonnet.
To the side, a strong shoulder line runs from the front wheel arch to the tail lamps. There’s black cladding from wheel to wheel and the contrast colour floating roof. The floating roof looks neat in profile and we like the chrome line that goes with it. The rear looks neat with great-looking LED tail lamps. One more thing we loved is the chrome or the absence of it. The Compass is free of garish looking chrome accents on the outside whichhas become a norm now.
Climbing inside, Jeep has given the Compass a simple utilitarian layout, one that is practical. The quality of materials and buttons are great and solid. The leather wrapped steering wheel is of good size and a 8.9 cm colour information display sits between a twin dial instrument cluster. The centre console gets a 7.0-inch touch screen display that comes with Uconnect system and support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The dual zone climate controls sit a level down.
Below that and ahead of the gear lever is the control for Active Drive system whose Selec-Terrain dial can be turned to choose from four driving modes - Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud. The seats have amazing under thigh support and bolstering. At the rear too, there is no dearth of space and the rear passengers get the comfort of AC vents and USB charging port. Smarter thing to do would be to opt for an all black interior rather than the light grey option. Boot space is a very respectable 438 litres with rear seats up, which can flat-folded 60/40 to make more space.
The Compass can be had with either a 1.4-litre Multiair petrol engine or a 2.0-litre Multijet engine. Both engines get a 6-speed manual gearbox while a 7-speed automatic transmission can be had with the petrol engine. You can also opt for a 4x4 variant but only with the diesel engine. We drove the diesel engine, which makes 173 PS of power and 350 Nm of peak torque. The Multijet diesel engine is famous for its driveability and the 2.0-litre unit is no different. After the initial turbo lag that lasts till about 1,500 rpm, you can get going strong and linear. The clutch may feel heavy till you get used to it but once you slot the gears, the throttle response is amazing. The steering response is great with precise feedback, be it the turns or straight line.
The suspension works overtime to keep the Compass smooth on bad roads. Though there is more amount of movement than we would have liked, it is not something to bother about. Body roll is minimal around the corners but the overall handling and ride quality is more than satisfactory in the Compass. Now, being a Jeep, the Compass should be off-road capable by default and hence gets features like Jeep Active Drive 4x4 system, Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) suspension, Hill Start Assist apart from the Selec-Terrain system.
Jeep Compass is a big product for FCA India. Not only the Compass needs to succeed here, Jeep will be exporting to all right-hand-drive markets from their Ranjangaon plant. Priced between INR 14.95 lakhs and INR 20.65 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi, Jeep has surprised us all in a good way and undercut the competition vastly with the Compass pricing. Looks like Compass will lead the way for the Jeep after all.