Jeep Compass Review

The Jeep Compass is a Nissan Qashqai rival with real off-road ability

Strengths & weaknesses

  • 4x4 versions offer excellent off-road ability
  • Spacious interior
  • Good standard equipment levels
  • Feels less agile in corners than rivals
  • Diesel engines noisy under acceleration
  • Harsh ride on larger wheels
Jeep Compass prices from £12,999.
Finance from £242.78 / month.

Like Land Rover, Jeep first made its name with tough, go-anywhere vehicles that were rugged, rough and ready.

It has continued building cars in the same vein, even though the most popular sport utility vehicles (SUVs) nowadays tend towards comfort and convenience rather than off-road capability.

The Jeep Compass is an attempt to combine both these two traits. It’s a family-sized SUV with similar dimensions to the Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan and Peugeot 3008 with enough space for a pair of average-size adults to get comfortable in the back, while three will fit without too much of a squeeze. The 438-litre boot has more space than you’ll find in the Qashqai, but much less than the Tiguan and 3008.

The interior is modern, with anything from an 8.4-inch to a 10.1-inch touchscreen on the dashboard, featuring Jeep's Uconnect system for connecting to your mobile phone. Air conditioning is standard across the range, as is cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and a leather steering wheel. But there’s also the option for full four-wheel-drive and clever traction technology that can deal with an array of slippery situations, maintaining Jeep’s historic reputation.

Shoud you opt for the four-wheel-drive option, which includes 'Selec-Terrain' technology that boosts off-road performance further with five different driving modes for tackling all kinds of conditions. A dial in the centre console can be set to a variety of surfaces, including snow, sand and mud, and will adjust the onboard electronics to tackle some of the harshest environments.

Real off-road enthusiasts should opt for a top-spec Trailhawk model, which will add features including more rugged bodywork, a low ratio gearbox for hauling up steep hills, and a bespoke 'rock crawl' mode.

All of this will keep the Compass forging its way off-road, long after a Qashqai, Renault Kadjar or Ford Kuga - even one fitted with four-wheel drive - has reached its limit.

But most buyers will be more concerned about the gullies and gorges across Britain’s tarmac roads. And it’s clear that the Compass has been tested in Europe, because it offers a comfortable and fairly smooth ride across our scarred road surfaces, as long as you avoid the largest 18-inch alloy wheels which firm up the ride somewhat.

The Compass compares well to the competition in this respect, but it does show its weakness on the more twisty roads, where there is some noticeable lean at speed. The steering can also feel vague during these times, making it more difficult to drive smoothly and accurately. Most of the alternatives in this sector are more stable, with more precise steering.

Many are also cheaper too. The price for a new Compass has crept from just under £23,000 to more than £30,000, which only buys you a two-wheel drive model, without the off-road ability of more expensive cars. That’s enough for a mid-range Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar or Skoda Karoq. A similar price will also buy a Peugeot 3008 or Volkswagen Tiguan, both of which have higher-quality interiors.

The Compass does come with a good level of standard equipment, though. Safety is a strong point for the car, which achieved the top five-star safety rating after crash tests carried out by the independent Euro NCAP organisation.

Key facts

Warranty 3 years / 60,000 miles
Boot size 438 litres
Width 1820mm
Length 4420mm
Height 1650mm
Tax From £160 to £500 in first year, £140 thereafter

Best Jeep Compass for...

Best for Economy – Jeep Compass Sport 1.6 MultiJet II 120hp 4x2

The entry-level model comes well equipped and fitted with the lower powered diesel engine. What it lacks in performance it will make up for with fuel economy and low running costs.

Best for Families – Jeep Compass Limited 1.4 MultiAir II 140hp 4x2

Limited trim level adds a healthy dose of interior extras, such as a larger 8.4-inch touchscreen and navigation, while the punchy petrol is both quiet and smooth compared to the diesel offerings.

Best for Performance – Jeep Compass Trailhawk 2.0 MultiJet II 170hp 4x4 Auto9 LOW

With a low range gearbox, extra off-road mode and plenty of additional protective elements, this vehicle is as rugged as it looks, offering excellent off-road performance.

One to Avoid – Jeep Compass Limited 2.0 MultiJet II 170hp 4x4 Auto9

This vehicle costs almost £35,000 but the diesel engine isn't particularly quiet, the auto gearbox is a bit slow and the interior lacks the finesse of its similarly priced rivals.


  • February 2018 First British deliveries of the current Jeep Compass model
  • Summer 2018 The Trailhawk trim level, with extra off-road technology and more protection from rugged ground, is due to go on sale

Understanding Jeep Compass names

Trim level Limited

There are currently three trim levels available in the UK, with a fourth Trailhawk model coming later in 2018. Each level brings more features and a higher price tag, from the entry-level Sport to Longitude and then Limited.

Engine 1.6 MultiJet II 120hp

The engine range includes both petrol and diesel variants. The former is badged MultiAir II, while diesel models are badged MultiJet II. The size is given in litres (here it's 1.6). Larger engines are generally more powerful but you'll often see the engine's horsepower displayed as well.

Driven wheels 4x2

Cheaper versions of the car send power from the engine to the front two wheels only. These may be shown as 4x2. Cars badged 4x4 have four-wheel drive for greater grip while accelerating and off road.

Gearbox Auto9

Automatic versions of the Compass are badged Auto9 because it has nine gears. Trailhawk cars are sometimes shown as Auto9 LOW because there is a low range set of gears, which deliver extra pulling power to the wheels for better off-road performance.

Jeep Compass Engines

Petrol: 1.4 MultiAir II, 1.3 GSE T4
Diesel: 1.6 MultiJet II, 2.0 MultiJet II
Hybrid: 1.5 T4 e-Hybrid, 1.3 Turbo 4xe PHEV

The Compass launched with a single 1.4-litre petrol engine, badged MultiAir II, but it was offered with two levels of power: either 140hp, combined with front-wheel-drive and a manual gearbox, or a 170hp model with four-wheel-drive and the 9-speed automatic gearbox.

Diesel customers got slightly more to choose from in so much as there is a 1.6 and 2.0-litre variant of the MultiJet II engine. The 1.6-litre unit was only offered with 120hp and front-wheel drive, making it more geared towards economy with little off-road ability.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine came with 140hp or 170hp, with the option of four-wheel drive and manual and automatic gearboxes.

We found that the automatic gearbox likes to hold on to first and second gear for too long, which is likely to aid off-road driving, but it doesn't feel smooth and natural through town. In fact, gear changes in the automatic gearbox can be a little harsh, with every cog swap felt by the driver.

Instead, we found the lower-powered, front-wheel drive models with the manual gearbox to be the better cars. These felt lighter, smoother to drive and the smallest petrol engine was nice and quiet on the open road.

Granted, both the lower capacity diesel and petrol engine did often feel a bit underpowered but it seems a fair trade-off for a quieter, more relaxing ride.

More recent petrol versions use a 1.3-litre engine with 130hp. The SUV styling is purely cosmetic, because the front-wheel drive setup and manual gearbox mean you'll have to consider another option for off-roading.

Diesels have been replaced with hybrids for drivers after better fuel economy. The mild hybrid version uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine which, when combined with assistance from the small 20hp electric motor, produces 130hp. It uses a smooth-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox unlike some other electrified models which use a noisy CVT gearbox. 

For those with access to a charging point at home, the plug-in hybrid model offers the prospect of emission-free motoring combined with fewer trips to the petrol station. The 11.4kWh battery promises around 30 miles of electric-only range, however drivers who fail to charge it regularly can see fuel economy drop lower than the equivalent petrol due to the added weight of the batteries, so keeping the battery topped up is a must. Despite its rather high 240hp output, we found the throttle control to be geared more towards economy than performance, so acceleration doesn't feel as quick as it could, however the same is true of other plug-in hybrid crossovers like the Vauxhall Grandland Hybrid-e.



Official fuel economy


Acceleration (0 - 62mph)

Top speed

1.6 MultiJet II 120hp 4x2 Manual






2.0 MultiJet II140hp 4x4 Manual






2.0 MultiJet II 140hp 4x4 Auto






2.0 MultiJet II 170hp 4x4 Auto






1.4 MultiAir II 140hp 4x2 Manual






1.4 MultiAir II 170hp 4x4 Auto






1.3 GSE T4 4x2 Manual Petrol 42.8mpg 130hp 10.3sec 119mph
1.5 T4 e-Hybrid 4x2 DCT Petrol - mild hybrid 47.9mpg 130hp 10.0sec 120mph
1.3 Turbo 4xe PHEV 4x4 AT6 Petrol - plug-in hybrid 148.6mpg 240hp 7.3sec 124mph

Jeep Compass Trims

Sport, Longitude, Limited, Trailhawk

Prices for the Jeep Compass started at just under £23,000 when it launched, which pitched it against its more lavishly specified rivals from Nissan and Volkswagen. As a result, it decided to equip even its entry level models with a decent amount of kit.

Sport trim sees 16-inch alloy wheels, bright halogen reflector headlamps and electrically heated wing mirrors thrown in as standard.

In addition to this, Sport models also get a 3.5-inch digital screen in the centre of the instrument cluster, air conditioning, dusk sensing lights, cruise control, a lane departure warning system and a 5-inch version of the new Uconnect system that boasts DAB radio and a USB port.

Move up to Longitude and the Jeep Compass becomes a more premium proposition, with 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome exterior touches, a reverse camera, power folding mirrors and luxurious ambient interior lighting.

On the technology front, Longitude models also receive the 8.4-inch touchscreen audio and navigation system, keyless entry and go and connectivity that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Limited sits at the very top of the range and sees 18-inch alloy wheels thrown in to the mix, LED signature lighting, privacy glass, a fully digital 7-inch instrument cluster, a thumping Beats Audio system and leather seats.

There are also additional niceties, such as rain sensitive wipers, a park assist system and thick rubber all season floor mats, which bizarrely make this lavish model seem a bit utilitarian in our eyes.

Finally, a Trailhawk trim level will arrive in 2018 that adds special off-road wheels, off-road bumpers, additional protective cladding and a whole host of dedicated off-road features.

In fact, this will be the only model to wear Jeep's "Trail Rated" badge, which means it has been tested to withstand the harshest environments.

Remember that carmakers often change their trim levels, so some of the above are no longer available new. Newer versions with the 1.3-litre petrol engine, mild hybrid or plug-in hybrid come in Night Eagle, Limited, Upland, Trailhawk and S forms.

Entry-level prices have now crept up beyond £30,000, which is rather expensive compared to many of its rivals. Plug-in hybrids cost around £40,000 when new.