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Car reviews - Jeep - Compass - 5-dr wagon range

Launch Story

17 Jan 2012

JEEP Australia has performed a Lazarus job on its Compass compact SUV, bringing it back from the dead after more than two years out of the local market.

The resurrected model arrives with a lower entry price than its predecessor and features new styling, an updated interior, the option of two-wheel drive and the choice of two specifications with two petrol engine choices, but no diesel offering.

Pricing starts from $26,500 for the 2.0-litre manual Compass Sport two-wheel drive and works up through two intermediate models to the $30,500 2.4-litre CVT Compass Limited with all-wheel drive.

Significantly, the 2.4L manual Sport is available in all-wheel drive for just $28,500, while most competing manufacturers only price their two-wheel drive compact SUV models at below $30,000.

As in the past, Compass will sell alongside the Jeep Patriot SUV, with which it shares its underpinnings and AWD drivelines.

However, the Patriot – which is only available in AWD specification and is priced at $30,000 for the Sport and $35,000 for the Limited – retains a more traditional boxy Jeep body style while the Compass takes on a more up-market look in line with the Grand Cherokee.

Compass’s fresh new styling borrows heavily from Jeep’s latest Grand Cherokee, which has been a sales success for Chrysler Australia in what would have otherwise been very lean times.

The 2012 Compass encapsulates the front-end look of the Grand Cherokee with new bonnet, mudguards, chrome grille, bumper and headlamps, the latter now complete with daytime-running lights.

This stylish new look means that from a distance you now need to do a double take to distinguish the two models, but is a huge improvement over the old Compass.

Further styling revisions to the body, which is largely unchanged from 2010, include new rear tail-lights with LEDs on the Limited specification, a body-coloured rear spoiler and new rear fascia.

The roof rails are a new design, as are the 17-inch alloy wheels on the Sport and 18-inch alloys on the Limited.

The full Jeep range has benefitted from interior upgrades in recent times to counter criticism of hard, cheap-feeling plastics and the Compass gets soft-touch trims on the door panels, a new steering wheel (with audio, cruise control and Bluetooth phone controls) and a new centre console with illuminated cupholders.

As with the Grand Cherokee, Jeep has offered a well-equipped interior for the price. Compass Sport has stain-resistant cloth seats, manual air-conditioning, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 60/40-split rear seat, and power door locks, windows and mirrors.

Limited grade adds creature comforts like leather trim, heated front seats with power adjustment on the driver’s side, a premium audio system with touchscreen display, 40-gig hard drive, voice-control Bluetooth phone connection, nine Boston Acoustics speakers and climate control.

Safety falls short, though, with the full complement of airbags only available as part of a ‘Safety and Comfort’ option package, which may cost it in terms of its safety rating.

While multi-stage front airbags for driver and passenger and side curtain airbags are standard on all variants, seat-mounted side airbags only come with the option package that costs $800 on the Sport or $550 on the Limited. The package also includes heated seats and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

Active safety equipment on all Compass models includes anti-lock brakes, electronic traction and stability control, and electronic roll mitigation.

Unlike the original Compass, with was available with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, the 2012 range is a petrol-only affair.

There are two four-cylinder engines available, with a new 2.0-litre unit developing 115kW of power and 190Nm of torque joining the carried-over 125kW/22Nm 2.4-litre unit.

The smaller engine is standard on the 2WD Compass Sport models, where it returns a claimed 7.6L/100km on the combined cycle with the standard five-speed manual gearbox or 8.2L/100km combined when mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The larger engine is fitted to the AWD variants and is available with the manual in the Compass Sport, where it is rated at 8.5L/100km, or with the CVT in both the Sport and Limited trim (8.6L/100km).

When it was last available in Australia back in 2009, the quirky-looking Compass sold just 68 units for the year, but recorded 456 and 500 sales in the two preceding years, with most of those seeming to go towards Patriot.

Jeep hopes the fresh new look of the Compass and the two-pronged attack will boost its numbers in the vital compact SUV class against the class leaders from Japan.

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