Jeep Compass on the

wild side

Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, off road
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, front, static
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, front
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, nose
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, side
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, off road, rocks
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, rear
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, rear, static
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, trail badge
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, badge
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, rear seats
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, off road controls
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, gear lever
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, dashboard
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, interior
Jeep Compass Trailhawk, 2019, boot

THE Compass is Jeep's best-selling model in Europe with 20,600 sold in the first quarter of this year - up 11.5 per cent compared to the same period in 2018.

No mean feat when you consider how difficult the market has been.

Now, for those who want to escape the urban jungle and take on a drive on the wild side, there's the new Compass Trailhawk, not only the range-topper but also the most extreme version of the brand's popular mid-sized SUV.

And, in a sector dominated by road cars with more rugged styling, the Trailhawk is no soft-roader.

Priced at £36,680, this is a true off-roader - but it's also a very good daily commuter and family SUV. Which makes it the most versatile and capable car in its class.

Only models which have gone through a series of gruelling tests designed to test off-road performance over the most demanding terrain earn the Trailhawk moniker and are allowed to sport the brand's famous ‘Trail Rated' badge.

Which is why this Compass comes fitted with some very special, very specific standard equipment, such as Jeep's advanced Active Drive Low system, a full-time 4x4 system which automatically comes into operation when all-wheel drive is needed, and can achieve a crawl ratio of 20:1.

To translate 4x4 speak, this is simply the ratio of torque at the wheels to torque at the engine's flywheel. It represents how many times your engine torque is multiplied before it gets to the place where the actual propulsion occurs.

The system can also send 100 per cent of the available torque to any one wheel when needed.

The Trailhawk also features Jeep Selec-Terrain, which provides up to five different modes - Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud, plus the exclusive Trailhawk Rock mode. Auto allows drive to the rear axle to be disconnected for improved economy on the road.

The Compass Trailhawk also comes with skid plates, a bright red rear tow hitch, 17-inch alloys with chunky all-season tyres, a full-sized spare wheel and unique front and rear bumpers which allow for 30-degree approach and 33.6-degree departure angles - again, very handy when off-road.

However, while Jeep will talk about ‘no compromise' vehicles, the Compass is compromised by its size. Ground clearance has been increased by almost 2.5 centimetres to a total of 21.6 centimetres. Ruts and water depths have to be judged carefully. It does have limits.

Powered by a boosted 2.0-litre Multijet II four-cylinder diesel engine matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission, the Compass Trailhawk delivers 168bhp and a useful 380Nm of torque at 1,750rpm. It officially returns 42.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 175g/km. Top speed is 114mph.

Generous standard features include bi-xenon front headlights, LED signature headlamp bezels, and a black hood decal on top of the specific off-road equipment.

Inside the cavernous cabin - there really is acres of space in the front and rear - there's sleek black leather and highly adjustable front seats alongside an easy-to-use 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen with satnav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity; a seven-inch digital driver information panel, plus niceties such as dual-zone climate control, a heated leather steering wheel, electrically folding door mirrors, smart key, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, and a nine-speaker Beats stereo system.

All-round visibility is very good, but you'll be thankful for front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera as well as safety features such as a blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic detection.

The cabin feels solid and well-built, and there's some nice soft touches around the dash but the top of the doors loses out to hard plastic, which seems a shame. And, that huge cabin space accounts for a relatively oridinary 438-litre boot space.

Jeep has been working hard to ramp up comfort to match its legendary off-road prowess, and the cabin is a pleasant place to be.

For all its capability, the Trailhawk also performs well on the road. It's comfortable and ride quality is good - firm enough to ensure body roll is not much of an issue through corners, but soft enough to conquer all but the worst bumps.

Yes, there's a little noise coming from around the door mirrors and from those all-season tyres, but the Compass Trailhawk makes a decent motorway cruiser and, it's not an issue at all around town. Elsewhere, there are more compromises.

While grip and traction was generally good, on newly-wet mountain roads with some ‘entertaining' U-bends, the all-season tyres at times let go on the tighter corners bringing traction control into play - a definite compromise for its off-road ability. And, while the nine-speed auto generally worked well, the torque you want when accelerating away from a corner often appeared a little late.

However, these are grumbles which disappear as soon as you leave the road. All that 4x4 trickery comes into play and the Trailhawk is ready for almost anything thrown at it.

It's as agile as a mountain goat and will deal with ruts, deep mud and some seriously steep mud and gravel tracks - in both directions due to its very effective hill descent control.

It's fair to say the Trailhawk's only rivals in terms of off-road capability are both from Land Rover - the Evoque or the Discovery Sport. However, factor in price and standard equipment, and there's only one winner.

On sale now, the Jeep Compass Trailhawk is arguably in a class of its own - a comfortable family SUV capable of school runs and commutes but one more than capable of doing it in all weathers, all year round, on tarmac or the most rugged of off-beat trails.

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