2021 Jeep Compass Test Drive Review
We do a detailed road test review of the 2021 Jeep Compass.
Car Tested: 2021 Jeep Compass; Road Test No. 1302; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 20.15 – 34.52 lakhs
The Compass gets an updated cabin with premium materials while still retaining its great off-roading capabilities and driving feel
When it was launched in 2017, the Jeep Compass got off to a rocking start thanks to the highly desirable value of the Jeep brand and the fact that the Compass was the most affordable product from the American automaker in India. The Jeep Compass did extremely well initially but then competition in the segment got intense and some relatively lower-priced SUVs like the Hyundai Creta also stole the Compass’ show. Slowly, the Compass started feeling aged and the lack of finesse and modern features showed in the sales numbers which were declining. Come 2021 and the Jeep Compass has received a facelift, albeit a significant one that gives this SUV much more appeal.
Exteriors – The Jeep Compass facelift proves that even minor changes can greatly uplift the aesthetic appeal of the vehicle. Not much has changed here apart from the sleeker grille, revised headlamps and tail lamps and refreshed bumpers. The Compass gets chunky wheels and it is now available in two new shades as well – Dark Green and Dark Blue, both of which look tasteful. The Compass is surely a looker and boasts of a good road presence too.
Interiors – The cabin is where the new Compass really outshines the pre-facelift model. The dashboard is all-new, the layout of the interior has been majorly worked on and the overall quality of materials in the cabin has gone up a notch too. There’s a good use of soft-touch materials all around and the cabin now feels quite premium and rich, unlike the older model which felt basic and also outdated. There is plenty of chrome, leather and piano black inserts in the cabin and Jeep is offering two colour schemes – full black with chrome highlights and a lighter theme which has a mixture of black, brown and grey.
The biggest changes are found inside the cabin in terms of new and better materials along with updated equipment
Sitting atop the revised centre console is a large 10.1-inch touchscreen which is not only bigger than before but also more responsive and user-friendly (lower variants get an 8.4-inch screen). The infotainment is married to 9 amplified speakers along with a subwoofer and the sound quality is indeed good. Some other features on this SUV include front ventilated seats, 8-way powered front seats, memory function for the driver’s seat, panoramic sunroof and even a 360-degree camera. Safety features include six airbags, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX child seat mounts, Electronic Roll Mitigation, Traction Control, ESC, electronic parking brake and Hill Start Assist.
The Jeep Compass gets extremely comfortable seats that are shaped well, offer great support and boast of upholstery which feels really good. The front seats hold you in place very nicely and the cushioning isn’t very soft. The rear seats too feel quite comfy and space is decent in the cabin. Legroom is more than enough, headroom is good as well but since the Compass isn’t as wide as some of its rivals, three passengers at the rear could be a bit tight.
Performance – Not much has changed under the hood of the 2021 Jeep Compass which continues to get the same 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo petrol and 2.0-litre MultiJet II diesel engines. We sampled the latter in its automatic guise which gets a 4×4 system too. Note that you cannot get the diesel AT in 4×2 and also note that 4×4 isn’t available with the petrol. One more thing to note is that the petrol MT is available only on the base model. Coming back, the diesel engine is offered in the usual 170 HP and 350 Nm tune, with a choice of either a 6-speed MT or 9-speed AT. This is a very good engine which explains why it also powers a variety of other cars like the Harrier, Safari and Hector siblings. It is a bit noisy on the outside but NVH levels in the Compass are good otherwise.
The Compass gets the same petrol and diesel engines with both automatic and manual gearbox options along with 4×4 on some trims
Performance-wise, the oil-burner won’t leave you wanting for more since it has more than enough grunt for both city and highway driving. Its low-end response is acceptable and the engine has a strong pull post around 2000 RPM. Driving in city traffic will be a pleasant experience for the most part since the AT is convenient but yes we would have liked the gearbox to be tuned better. Just like in the pre-facelift Compass, the AT feels confused in this one too and sometimes that could get irritating. The gearbox is smooth though. The engine likes being pushed hard and doesn’t ever disappoint. I reckon the manual variant is more fun to drive but that comes at the cost of the supposedly heavy clutch, hence I’d still pick the AT.
Driving Dynamics – The Jeep Compass has always had very sorted dynamics with a ride-handling balance that’s tough to beat. Glad to see that this hasn’t changed in the updated model because this one does feel great to drive and offers a lot of confidence while pushing it hard as well. The ride, though a bit stiff at low speeds, does feel comfortable as speeds increase and there are barely any jerky movements felt inside the cabin unless the terrain is extremely uneven. The suspension lends the SUV a good sense of stability even over bad roads. The steering has some heft to it and offers good feel as well, but some people might find it a bit heavy at parking speeds. The Compass is an SUV that doesn’t mind being pushed on the corners as well. Of course, it isn’t a match to a low-slung sedan but you do feel confident throwing it around and it does what you ask it to.
Thanks to 4×4 and features like Hill Descent Control, the Compass is also an extremely capable off-roader
The Compass gets 4×4 along with a 4-Low mode. We took the SUV on an off-road trail but to be honest, it wasn’t an extremely hardcore trail as such, but still had a couple of challenging obstacles where we enjoyed putting the Compass to test. The vehicle gets chunky 18-inch all-season tyres that do offer good grip levels. Outward visibility gets a bit limited in tight situations thanks to the thick pillars but the 360-degree cameras come in to be useful here. The Compass can easily tackle most obstacles with ease provided you’re skilled at manoeuvring the vehicle with just the right amount of throttle and careful use of the brakes. The ground clearance is enough but we did end up scrapping the underbelly on one of the nastier declines which was at a weird angle. You also get Hill Descent Control which basically allows the vehicle to descend at a slow speed without you having to press the brakes. We also encountered a really muddy patch with a couple of medium-sized ups and downs where the Compass did get stuck and we ended up engaging 4L post which it was effortless! There are different modes like Auto, Snow and Sand/Mud and we used only the latter mode.
Verdict – The 2021 Jeep Compass is a massive leap ahead compared to the older model. It looks great, feels premium and drives nicely while it also offers go-anywhere abilities. The Jeep Compass is made for the enthusiast though there is room for improvements in the automatic. However, out of the powertrain options, budget permitting, we’d still recommend the diesel AT because the MT has a heavy clutch and the petrol, well it consumes significantly more fuel than the oil-burner especially with its DCT and doesn’t get 4×4 as well. Yes, the vehicle isn’t exactly value for money but it won’t leave you disappointed after you spend the moolah.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives – Hyundai Tucson, Tata Harrier, Citroen C5 Aircross, Volkswagen Tiguan
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