First Drive: Jeep Compass Trailhawk

More Jeep for your Jeep.

If you’re worried that your Jeep Compass isn’t quite Jeep enough, Jeep has now added more Jeepiness to it, creating the new Jeep Compass Trailhawk.

The Compass just about sits on its own in a crowded SUV market. It’s great off-road, extremely comfortable on-road, and has badge appeal that marks it out from the more practical Skoda Kodiaq. Love or loathe Americana, there’s still something about a Jeep.

In coming up with the Trailhawk edition, Jeep has added an extra dash of off-road capability, separating it further from the road-focussed competition. The four-wheel drive system has a low-range gearbox for rock crawling, the ability to send all of the car’s power to just one wheel, and a bundle of electronic gubbins to keep the car moving on all surfaces. Drivers can switch the car’s Selec-Terrain to snow, sand, mud or rock, each of which makes the vehicle respond in different ways to throttle inputs, wheel slip, or one of hundreds of other measurements the computers take each second.

An active quarry makes for a decent playground to put the system to the test and, although time was limited thanks to explosive work going on, the Trailhawk made mincemeat of the terrain. Soggy, deep mud, steep scrabbly rock climbs, broken surfaces, speeds on gravel roads that were slightly higher than they should have been, and even floodwater of unknown depth never even felt like it would hinder the Compass. That Jeep name still means something.

A fully-automatic mode disengages the rear wheels entirely, allowing the Compass to cruise along the road in a more fuel efficient front-wheel drive mode. Despite that nod to efficiency, the official economy figures of the Compass Trailhawk reach only as high as 42.8mpg, and that’s a little optimistic. CO2 emissions are up at 175g’km too, which means it’s going to attract a BIK rate for company car drivers of the maximum 37%.

On-road performance is acceptable, although it won’t set the pulse racing. There’s 170hp to play with, which translates to a 0-62mph time of 9.5 seconds. A nine-speed automatic gearbox keeps things moving, but it’s arguably a couple of ratios too many, too frequently switching gears when not necessary or, oddly, holding on to a gear too long and letting the engine rev to raucous levels.

Find a corner and the Compass rolls a fair bit, but it doesn’t feel unstable because of it. That unstable feeling comes from the all-season tyres that didn’t seem to find much grip on the wet roads we faced. They do, however, ride over any imperfections in a wonderfully compliant fashion. With raised suspension that’s soft enough to cope with the rough stuff, and big, US-style comfortable seats, it’s a lovely place to relax.

Already generous equipment levels have been boosted too, with the Trailhawk getting electrically adjustable, heated leather seats, an 8.4-inch infotainment screen that houses both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a nine-speaker Beats Audio sound system. Practical touches such as front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, and an electrically operated boot lid are also standaard.

Changes on the outside are less subtle. The suspension has been raised (although not by much) so it rides slightly higher, on 17-inch wheels wearing chunky all-season tyres. Skid plates sit underneath, while a bright red tow hook protrudes out of the restyled bumper at the back of the car.

The Compass Trailhawk might not be the ultimate Jeep – that’s an honour reserved for the Wrangler Rubicon – but there’s no doubting that this new model is more capable than any mid-range SUV has any right to be.

The asking price of around £37,000 might feel a tad steep when you start looking at some of the plastics used in the cabin, especially if you compare it to a Range Rover Evoque, but you’ll be happy with every penny spent if you find yourself stuck in Snowdonia in the middle of a storm. Or on a damp field at the polo club.

Model Tested: Jeep Compass Trailhawk 2.0 MultiJet II
Price: £36,680
Range: £23,760 – £36,680
Top speed: 114 mph
0-62 mph: 9.5 seconds
Power: 170 PS (168 bhp)
Torque: 380 Nm (280 lb ft)
Monthly PCP*: £501
Official fuel economy: 42.8 mpg
Road test economy: N/A
CO2 Emissions: 175 g/km
Car Tax: £145
Insurance group: 22E
* Monthly PCP estimate based on 20% deposit, 36 month term, 5% APR, final payment of 40%.
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Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, DAD.info and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

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