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Jeep Compass

MK Compass

1 Mar 2007

JEEP finally took the plunge into compact SUVs with the Compass, after watching non-4x4 specialist rivals make plenty of hay.

Targeting the Toyota RAV4 and co., the Compass is a car-based part-time five-seater 4WD wagon that – along with its virtually identical underneath Patriot sibling – thrusted Jeep deep into an unfamiliar urban war zone.

Initially two models were offered – the Compass Sport and Compass Limited. All versions boast ESP stability control as standard.

The mainstay powerplant is a 2.4-litre twin-cam four-cylinder petrol engine featuring dual variable valve timing to help produce 125kW of power at 6000rpm and 220Nm of torque 4500rpm, and is paired to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a CVT Continuously Variable Transmission that the Americans call “AutoStick®”.

Astoundingly, the Compass was the first car-based compact SUV to offer a diesel option in Australia.

Using a variation of rival Volkswagen’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder TDI turbo-diesel powerplant, the CRD pumps out 103kW at 4000rpm and 310Nm from 1750 to 2000rpm. A six-speed manual is the only gearbox offered with this engine.

It beats the petrol engine for combined-cycle economy and carbon dioxide pollution, and even pips the 2.4 CVT to the 100km/h sprint post.

Underneath, the Compass uses a development of the Mitsubishi GS/Chrysler JS transverse-engine platform also underpinning the Dodge Caliber hatchback and Mitsubishi ZG Outlander SUV.

So the monocoque Compass eschews the 4x4 ladder-frame chassis construction – another first for Jeep – meaning it has very limited off-road capabilities despite boasting a Cherokee-like proboscis and a compact SUV class-respectable approach angle of 21 degrees, a departure angle of 32 degrees and a breakover angle of 20 degrees.

For most of the time the front wheels are doing the vast majority of the driving, until Jeep’s new ‘Freedom Drive’ 4WD system switches to four-wheel drive when extra traction situations arise. It is capable of sending up to 60 per cent of torque rearwards.

A dash-switchable 4WD lock mode exists via a centre coupling when permanent 50:50 front/rear 4WD is needed. There is no 2WD lock.

The Compass’ independent suspension system is standard compact SUV faire – MacPherson struts up front, and a multi-link rear arrangement – while a hydraulically powered rack and pinion steering set-up delivers a turning circle of 10.8 metres.

Wheels and tyres are 215/60R17 on the Sport, complete with a full-sized spare, while a space saver serves the 215/55R18-shod Limited.

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