FOR the uninitiated or the uninvolved, the world-famous brand name Jeep was first used as US Army slang to describe new recruits or vehicles back in 1940.
The following year, as America entered the Second World War, the name Jeep was given to the first light military 4x4 to go into production. The rest is history, as they say.
Today the iconic brand, now part of giant Stellantis conglomerate, is battling it out with countless other SUVs for honours in what has become the most popular family sector.
At the centre of the range is the mid-size Compass, a smart looking five-seater that comes up against polished rivals in the shape of BMW X1, Ford Kuga, Peugeot 3008, Skoda Kodiaq and Land Rover Discovery Sporti. Tough competition, in other words.
Where the Jeep really scores is a reference to its heritage...off-road ability. While the vast majority of crossovers flounder trying to clamber up mountains or traverse rivers and rocks, the Compass is fully equipped to do just that.
On the debit side, it fails to match the on-road sophistication and refinement possessed by most other saloon-based mid-size SUVs.
We drove Compass Trailhawk 2.0 Multijet Auto, which is powered by a 168bhp turbo diesel engine comes equipped with all-wheel drive and low range gearbox to enable it to scale steep descents.
In addition, there's Jeep's own Select-Terrain system which allows you to choose between modes for snow, mud,sand, rock or auto.
The two litre engine pulls well with bags of torque - great for towing - but it's far from quiet with a distinctly agricultural clatter under acceleration. On the economy front, its official average is 37.8mpg but the best we managed was slightly less than that figure. And CO2 emissions register an unimpressive 191g/km.
The cabin is decently finished with robust switchgear and easy-to-read dials but space is less generous than most rivals and the rear boot with a high luggage platform can only carry 438litres of cargo, noticeably less than other similarly sized SUVs.
A full size spare wheel is included in the spec - a useful thing to have if you regularly go off-road.
Performance is strong enough with acceleration to 62mph in less than 10 seconds and good mid-range pull, as you'd expect from its 168bhp diesel. The nine speed auto matches the engine well and most of the time has good response.
Despite its undoubted ability off-road, cornering on Tarmac remains impressive with limited roll and strong grip.
No shortage of standard kit onboard the Trailhawk - leather upholstery, dual zone climate control, heated seats and steering wheel and 8.4-inch infotainment system are all included in the spec. Safety-wise, there's cross-path detection and blindspot detection systems.