New Com­pass leads the way

Albany Extra - - Motoring - Vani Naidoo

Win­ning a war can of­ten hap­pen in fits and starts — ad­vanc­ing for days and cap­tur­ing strate­gic posts be­fore the enemy halts your progress with tena­cious fight­ing. Cer­tainly, that was a case in World War II when the leg­endary Jeep, used to mo­bilise the Al­lied forces, first came into its own.

Those ve­hi­cles may have been spar­tan and cramped but they were highly func­tional, their all­round abil­ity and dogged at­ti­tude per­son­i­fy­ing the Al­lies’ de­ter­mi­na­tion and in­ge­nu­ity in stop­ping the op­pos­ing Axis forces.

It is fit­ting then that as the com­pany ne­go­ti­ates new chal­lenges, that it looks to a de­ter­mined all­rounder to help lead the way. The new Jeep Com­pass range bears only a pass­ing re­sem­blance to the model it re­places in looks, abil­ity and heart. But that is a good thing.

There is a choice of four grades — the front-wheel-drive Sport and Lon­gi­tude and four-wheel-drive Lim­ited and Trail­hawk — start­ing from $28,850.

We took a Jeep Com­pass Lim­ited home with us for the week.

Given the sur­feit of swoops and an­gles that seem to be in­stru­men­tal in the ex­te­rior de­sign of SUVs, it is re­fresh­ing to come across one that prefers to stick closer to the util­ity part of the SUV moniker.

With its wide stance, hefty wheel arches and squar­ish shape, the Jeep Com­pass cer­tainly stands out from the rest of the class with the seven-slot grille show­ing its fam­ily al­le­giance.

The in­te­rior shows less in­di­vid­u­al­ity but a higher level of qual­ity and fin­ish than seen in the out­go­ing model.

The cabin feels airy and light too, which is of­ten dif­fi­cult to ac­com­plish in a SUV of this size. There is ad­e­quate head­room even with the op­tional sun­roof, and space in the back to ac­com­mo­date a cou­ple of taller than aver­age adults. There are air vents and USB ports in the rear too to en­hance com­fort and a cou­ple of ISOFIX an­chors if you are car­ry­ing lit­tle chil­dren.

The seats them­selves are flat­ter than we are ac­cus­tomed to and feel rather firm. This Com­pass Lim­ited boasts its fair share of other com­forts though with Jeep of­fer­ing stan­dard in­clu­sions like 18-inch al­loys, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, auto head­lights and wipers, push but­ton start, bi-Xenon head­lights, heated leather seats, dig­i­tal ra­dio with nine-speaker Beats stereo-sys­tem and a roof rack.

The boot (438-litres) is one of the big­gest in the class and eas­ily swal­lows up the weekly shop or a cou­ple of suit­cases. A pow­ered tail­gate can be op­tioned in the Ad­vanced Tech­nol­ogy pack.

The Com­pass Lim­ited fea­tures a 8.4-inch (up from 5.0-inch in the en­try mod­els) colour touch­screen with sat nav, Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto. The sys­tem it­self is easy to nav­i­gate with good map graph­ics and de­cent re­sponse times. Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity is a cinch while two USB ports al­low you to recharge or ac­cess other de­vices.

There are two en­gines avail­able across the range — a 2.0-litre diesel that of­fers up 125kW of power and 350Nm of torque and the 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol (129kW/229Nm) un­der the hood of our test car. While the petrol engine is more than ad­e­quate around town, it needs a fair bit of tele­graph­ing should you want to over­take at high­way speeds as quick sharp bursts are not its forte.

In the top-range Lim­ited and Trail­hawk mod­els, the diesel and petrol are paired with a nine-speed auto trans­mis­sion. It is pro­fi­cient

rather than seam­less but a breath­tak­ing im­prove­ment from the CVT that did duty in the old model.

With seven airbags, in­clud­ing a knee-bag, sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, re­verse cam­era and park as­sist, the Com­pass Lim­ited has a fair safety pack­age. No Au­ton­o­mous Emer­gency Brak­ing as stan­dard though, which is a shame. It can be op­tioned in the Ad­vanced Tech­nol­ogy pack ($2450) along with other fea­tures that one could ar­gue should re­ally be stan­dard in­clud­ing blind spot mon­i­tor­ing, rear cross traf­fic alert, lane de­par­ture warn­ing, adap­tive cruise con­trol and auto high beam. While Jeep is not alone here, the qual­ity of the re­verse cam­era is not the best around.

The pic­ture is grainy even in day­light which is not a deal breaker but slightly an­noy­ing.

If it is true that the Com­pass has been charged with lift­ing Jeep’s re­cent for­tunes, then let’s say that its per­for­mance both on and off the bi­tu­men has set its mis­sion on course to a suc­cess­ful end.

Be­cause this, on the larger side of small SUV, is an ac­com­plished drive, tak­ing di­rec­tion eas­ily, set­tling quickly over bumps and highly ma­noeu­vrable de­spite a wide turn­ing cir­cle.

It is even well bal­anced in the cor­ners. Yes, re­ally.

The petrol unit’s need for more than a slight nudge when a burst of speed is re­quired is per­haps a chink in the ar­mour as is the steady road and tyre sound­track but that is easy enough to adapt to.

The all-wheel-drive sys­tem gives the Lim­ited sure­ness un­der foot with trac­tion trans­ferred to the wheels that need it most.

It is this trait that makes the SUV such a ca­pa­ble off-road mav­er­ick, much bet­ter suited to the road less trav­elled than com­peti­tors in this class.

The Com­pass Lim­ited is a thirsty lit­tle blighter and we found con­sump­tion dur­ing our week was closer to 11.3L/100km than the of­fi­cial 9.7 L/100km.

Those buy­ers still wary of Jeep’s re­cent trou­bles may find se­cu­rity in a five-year/100,000km warranty, five-year capped price ser­vic­ing pro­gram and life­time road­side as­sist.

Your lo­cal Jeep dealer is Bar­nesby Ford 9842 2933.

The cabin feels airy and light, which is of­ten dif­fi­cult to ac­com­plish in a SUV of this size.

The boot, at 438 litres, is one of the big­gest in its class.

Pic­tures: Mar­que Mo­tor­ing

The new Jeep Com­pass is bet­ter look­ing and more ca­pa­ble than the model it re­places.

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