Off-road-inspired hybrids hold their ground in a market full of competent mid-road competitors
The Jeep Wrangler was one of my favorite cars of the past year.
It was an uncompromising look back at the models that made the brand and kind of car you buy with your heart, not your head.
But to support this niche model in markets like the UK, Jeep needs to sell more head over heels — no-fuss family fares with tax-friendly engines and 21st-century toys. Cars like the compass.
Unlike smaller B-SUVs, this segment is all about blending in, so the Compass’s styling is fairly plain, with the usual tall and slightly boxy shape that can trace its roots back to the old Jeep Grand Cherokee. At least the spec of our test car livened things up a bit, looking really mean, moody and pretty cool with a deep blue color, gloss black trim and a subtle blue background for the badges to emphasize its hybrid credentials.
Because yes, despite Jeep’s famous penchant for V6s and V8s, this smaller model is a plug-in hybrid affair with a tiny 1.3-liter petrol engine.
Despite its tiny capacity, the Jeep puts out 237 horsepower along with the 44kW electric motor and feels suitably nippy. The EV motor provides an instant response when you need it, and the petrol helps push the car along well, although under hard acceleration it’s clear this is a small engine that works very hard.
With the Compass, the EV motor drives the rear wheels while the petrol engine steers the front wheels, enabling all-wheel drive. Perhaps to reflect Jeep’s heritage, you can lock it into four-wheel drive, and there’s even a low-ratio transmission lock alongside driving modes for sand, snow and mud – something no competitor offers.
In operation, the hybrid system is as unobtrusive as any competitor. Auto mode manages its operation well, but there are EV and battery saver modes if you prefer to control things yourself. Transitioning between modes is fairly smooth, with the screaming engine being the most obvious giveaway.
Over a week of varied driving and regular charging, the Compass returned around 60mpg. That’s less than the Ford Kuga, but broadly similar to our results from other similarly sized PHEVs. Drive it around for any length of time with a dead battery and, like its rivals, you’ll see that this dips to the mid-40s at best.
The interior is decent, although the generous rear legroom definitely comes at the expense of the front. What’s not so decent is the cabin quality. In terms of design, it’s as bland as a Coldplay album, and like a Coldplay album, the quality of materials isn’t very good, with cheap leather and some rickety plastic finishes.
The ‘S’ specification of our test car brought with it a reasonable level of equipment, including automatic low-beam headlamps with adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate control, cellphone charging and an upgraded interior and exterior trim package. Unfortunately, it also brought a 10.25-inch screen with a painfully sluggish operating system and the worst driver-assistance tech I’ve encountered in a long time.
Lane Assist is overly sensitive and inaccurate, and can’t be turned off entirely – you’ve got the nagging vibration even after pausing it to drag you all over the road. Worse, the Forward Collision Alert is shockingly paranoid, and even on its least sensitive setting, it starts screeching at you almost the minute something slows in front of you.
Euro NCAP devalues cars if they don’t have such systems, but in the case of Jeep it really should be offered extra points for getting rid of its ADAS.
Aside from that hateful technology, the compass is largely unremarkable. Its looks are straight-forward SUVs, as is the driving experience. The hybrid setup works as well as most rivals and the ride is decent, but it does nothing to stand out. With competitors like the Toyota Rav4/Suzuki Across and the new Sportage PHEV impressing with their performance and design, the Compass feels disoriented.
Price: £40,895 (£43,575 as tested); Engine: 1.3-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine with 44 kW electric motor; Perfomance: 237 hp; Torque: n / A; Transmission: Six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive Top speed: 124 miles per hour; 0-100km/h: 7.3 seconds; Business: 148.7mpg; CO2 emissions: 44g/km; EV range: 30 miles
https://www.nationalworld.com/lifestyle/cars/2022-jeep-compass-4xe-review-price-performance-and-specification-rivals-hybrid-suv-test-3743550 2022 Jeep Compass 4Xe review: hybrid SUV in search of direction