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Jeep Compass engineered to be class-best 4x4

Quiet please: Jeep’s Compass includes a number of improvements in the area of noise, vibration and harshness.

Improving refinement while boosting 4x4 ability were key goals for Jeep Compass


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22 Nov 2016


JEEP strove to make the second-generation Compass the most capable off-roader in its class while improving every other facet over its ageing predecessor.

Although three of the four variants follow competitors such as the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 in offering front- or all-wheel-drive formats, the Trailhawk ushers in an extra low-geared 20:1 crawl ratio, a Rock Mode setting, a ride-height increase of 25mm raise, skid plates, tow hooks, a shorter front overhang, Hill Descent Control, off-road tyres, 48cm water-fording ability, a full-sized spare and greater towing capacity. However the Trailhawk, like the regular AWD versions of the base Sport, mid-range Latitude, and up-spec Limited, do not have the added weight, complexity and cost of more dedicated 4x4 transfer cases, meaning that the monocoque-bodied Compass is not in the same league of Jeep’s toughest vehicle, the ladder-frame chassis Wrangler.

Instead, the AWD system is part-time, with what the company claims is “seamless operation in and out of four-wheel drive”.

Dubbed Jeep Active Drive, it uses a variable wet clutch housed in the rear-drive module and boasts an electronic drive disconnect function to help reduce driveline drag and save fuel.

Plus, there are four driver selectable modes based on terrain via Jeep’s Selec-Terrain dial. A transparent system that requires no driver intervention, it includes Auto, Snow (with second-gear starts, reduced steering assist and gearbox calibration), Sand and Mud.

The Trailhawk’s Active Drive Low brings off-road electronic brake controls with increased brake-lock differential capacity and 100 per cent front/rear torque split.

Using the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Small Wide 4x4 modular platform shared with the slightly more compact Renegade, the newcomer features modular and interchangeable components, allowing for flexibility in the wheelbase, tracks, length, width and overhangs.

It underwent over 1.8 million kilometres of accelerated testing road-test simulators took that up to 25.7m, with development work also carried out in Brazil and China, as well as at the Queenstown Snow Farm in New Zealand.

The global focus was deemed imperative because, unlike any previous volume Jeep in this segment, the MP-series Compass will not be built in North America, having been engineered as a truly global vehicle to be made available in more than 100 countries.

Once production kicks off in the first half of next year, it will be manufactured in Mexico, Brazil, China and India – with the latter being the source for Australian Jeep buyers for the first time.

“Global co-ordination of the engineering and design with multiple markets and manufacturing locations during the development phase was key…”, according to FCA vehicle line executive Art Anderson.

High torsional stiffness and a rigid body structure thanks to 65 per cent high-strength steel, suspension brackets and cradle attachments, and front and rear steel cross-members and aluminium knuckles (on AWD versions) help deliver better on-road dynamics as well as reduced noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) properties compared to any previous Jeep compact SUV, addressing one of the outgoing MK Compass’ biggest criticisms.

Aiding the above is a new type of ‘split’ type shock absorber that transmits road vibrations to the body structure via two different routes for better overall damper performance.

Mr Anderson said that the best-possible wheel articulation, maximised spring rates, and reduced roll steer led to the decision to use a lightweight ‘Chapman’ rear suspension design featuring two lateral links and half-shafts, as well as MacPherson struts up front.

Both also include a Koni frequency-selective damping system for improved handling, road-holding and ride qualities. The electric power steering set-up is fitted to the steering column for best-possible feel and response.

To help quell noise paths, there is frame under glass door construction with triple seals, acoustic wheel arch liners, and a comprehensive sound-deadening package, for what Jeep claims is “world-class interior sound quality”.

On the powertrain front, there will be 17 four-cylinder combinations made available worldwide depending on region, ranging from a 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo, to a 2.4-litre atmo unit, as well as a range of Multijet turbo-diesels of 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre capacities, courtesy of Fiat.

Front drivers have six-speed transmissions in both manual and automatic, while AWDs are offered with nine-speed autos.

Finally, the MP introduces advanced driver assist systems to the Compass, including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning and lane departure warning, while seven airbags are fitted to all vehicles headed for Australia.

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