Smaller Jeep hits

the high notes

Jeep Compass, side
Jeep Compass, front
Jeep Compass, front
Jeep Compass, rear
Jeep Compass, 2018, interior
Jeep Compass, 2018, boot

ISN'T it strange how car shapes change? The latest Jeep Cherokee is not as good looking as the previous one to my eyes.

But the smaller Compass launched last year emulates the design of that previous Cherokee and seems to be perfectly proportioned and right on the money.

Using many parts, including engine and gearbox, from parent company Fiat's range, this is a real 4x4 capable of fairly tough off-road work, while at the same time, bringing a good feel out on the road.

That's where the previous Compass fell down, but this one certainly moves things on a fair few miles.

I recently drove a 1.4 turbo petrol automatic, but there are also 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesels that are likely to be far better sellers.

That said, the petrol is quick and comfortable, reasonably refined and surprisingly agile.

The 1.4 Multiair turbo is smooth and refined and gives excellent urge in the low and mid-range. There's no red line, but if left in auto, it changes long before it reaches the point where there might be one.

Acceleration is very good, bringng up the 60 miles an hour sprint in well under 10 seconds, with smooth changes from the standard nine-speed automatic gearbox.

But sadly, those changes are rather leisurely, which lets it down and even when the manual option is chosen things don't seem to get much better.

Apart from that, it's a really good car to drive and I enjoyed it a great deal.

Unlike most other crossovers, which are only front wheel drive, it has a proper four-wheel-drive (4WD) system, with selectable modes for snow, sand and mud, and an auto setting for road work.

It also comes with hill descent control, which uses the anti-lock braking system to control speed when going down steep off-road gradients.

I managed to get a little time off road and found this a very worthwhile electronic tool. The 4x4 system means this Jeep will go just about anywhere through mud, rough tracks or sodden fields, and, of course, will keep you going in serious winter conditions where most soon flounder.

It would certainly show a Nissan Qashqai or Ford Kuga the way home in either situation.

The steering has a fair amount of weight on the move and gives decent feedback through the corners. There is some roll, but it's reasonably well controlled and so there is plenty of grip to give good road holding.

Most of the time I also found it pretty comfortable, although the big wheels and low profile tyres gave a good deal of bump thump, and it felt most of the lumps on poorer surfaced country roads.

It might well be more comfortable with smaller wheels and higher profile tyres.

There's very good electric adjustment for the front seats in Limited spec, so that any driver can be comfortable and with the seat back for my six foot frame, there is also good legroom and headroom in the back.

This spec also includes leather, sat nav, alloys, audio remote on the steering wheel, cruise, traction control and heated mirrors.

Added to that are heated sports seats with lumbar support, parking sensors, sat nav and Bluetooth.

FAST FACTS

Price: £33,240

Mechanical: 167bhp, 1,368cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 9-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 9.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 40

Insurance Group: 21

C02 emissions: 183g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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