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Just in time for Christmas – a gift from Jeep – their new Compass. Some new versions of previous generation cars are evolutionary. The new Compass isn’t. It is a revolutionary step forward, over its predecessor.

Gorgeous on the eye, the Compass embodies the traditional American looks of a Jeep with its seven-slot grille, tall stature and wide stance. The new Compass looks most like the Grand Cherokee in the family. In fact, it looks like a smaller version of the granddaddy. This is a good thing. Within its class, the Compass has presence.

The Compass is placed above the smaller Renegade and just under the Cherokee completing Jeep’s sizing curve: Small (Renegade), Medium (Compass), Large (Cherokee) and the XL (Grand Cherokee).

Modern highlights of the Compass SUV are its two-tone colouring with its roof and structural pillars being high-gloss black, contrasting with the rest of the car’s colour.

Open the Compass, and you’ll notice the large cabin all-round. Space in the rear is generous as is the boot - 438-liters. Jeep have combined soft-touch plastics, leather with contrasting stitch details and chrome highlights. The Trailhawk incorporates distinctive red detailing as an alternative.

I reviewed the Trailhawk model, the flagship in the range and the only current model available.  Being the Trailhawk it is Trail Rated – meaning it has proper off-road capabilities with a 4 x 4 rotary switch selector, called Select-Terrain. This system allows you to engage a variety of drive select modes - for off-roading purposes. Cleverly working through 12-systems for enhanced vehicle control on even the most compromised road surfaces. This is unique within its class – no other competitor would be able to take on challenging off-road conditions like the Compass.

Being the top of the range vehicle, the Trailhawk is fitted with a host of modern features the previous generation could only dream about. Things like an automated tailgate, keyless entry and start function, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Indicators, self-parking, ventilated seats and a large easy to use touchscreen infotainment system. Labeled Uconnect™, the screen is 8.4” and includes Navigation. Part of the package is Apple CarPlay, which enables iPhone users to access Apple Maps, Messages, phone and Apple Music through Siri voice control. Additionally, Android Auto™ enables easy and safe access to Google Maps and Google Play Music via Uconnect™ touchscreen or steering-wheel controls.

The Compass also features 7 airbags and a 5-star NCAP crash rating!

Push the ignition button and the 2.4-L beckons to life. With a 130kW/229Nm on tap, there is adequate power for robot-to-robot movements that will see you hitting the 100 km/h in just under 10 seconds. This motor is mated to a slick shifting 9-speed automatic gearbox. In practice, that’s a lot of gears – the gearbox will rarely engage the 8th or 9th gears as these are for motorway cruising. I noted - depending on the gradient of the road and driving style - 2nd gear is selected for pull off.

The Compass has a high driving position. This, together with the firm leather seats and thick steering wheel in hand, and the Compass’ weighted command over the road gives its driver assurance of the car’s command on the road.

Not perfect, albeit vastly improved over its predecessor, the Compass has room for improvement. I love the looks and can’t comment on any changes I’d make. The interior on the other hand isn’t as sublime. Some of the switchgear feels compromised like the fiddly indicator stalks. There are old-school buttons on the lower part of the dashboard for air-con operation. You’re able to operate the air-con via the touchscreen system, too. I would rather clean up the dash and remove the buttons. I would have also enjoyed more supportive seats – they are firm. So is the suspension.

If adventure is your thing and making a statement in fear of blending into the mundane herd, the Compass is the most capable vehicle in its class. It has been designed to climb things, slippery things and wants to go wherever you want to go.

Few cars also offer the nuances of a Jeep – littered with hidden ‘Easter eggs’ – these are novel Jeep icons that are cleverly concealed within the car’s body panels. It’s a fun time looking for the total number of Easter eggs.

The key take-home message is adventure!

Plus +

  • Masculine looks.
  • Off-road capabilities.
  • Large 438- L boot.
  • Loaded with tech.

Minus –

  • Firm ride.
  • Lots of tough competition.
  • Only one model – hopefully just for now.

The competition

Mazda CX5, Nissan Qashqai, KIA Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Kuga, Toyota RAV4, Renault Kadjar, Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V, Peugeot 3008, Volkswagen Tiguan, BMW X1, Audi Q3, and Volvo XC40.

The pricing

Jeep Compass Trailhawk - R599 000.

Service and warranty

The Jeep Compass is sold with a 3 year/100 000 km service and maintenance plan.




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