DRIVEN :2014 Jeep Compass – North 4×4
Whist on my trip to attend the F1 in Texas, USA, I was given the opportunity to try out the 2014 Jeep Compass crossover. I did have a few prerequisites for the car I needed for the job; I needed a car that would fit 4 suitcases in the boot, comfortably seat 4 people, and something capable of dealing with both the interstates and also the back road challenges that Texas has to offer. The Compass ticked all of these boxes.
What is it about?
So we all know this sort of mini-SUV or crossover car is proving to be very popular and there is good reason for it – they’re so versatile. Jeep’s offering is as capable as all the others out there at the moment, if not more due to Jeep’s heritage. I test drove the North edition which retails at £19,995, it has a 2.4-litre engine, 168bhp, with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and has a configurable two or four wheel drive system.
The Jeep certainly looks the part nowadays. The updated headlights, front grill and new bumper have really modernised the look and feel of the car. The seven slat grill gives the car a muzzled look, almost as if it is too dangerous to be unleashed!.
The stance of the car is nicely configured around a set of 17″ chunky 5 spoke wheels with plenty of travel left in the suspension above the wheel arch. The only odd bit of styling on the car is the bulge in the rear arch on the rear doors. I spent the first 4 or 5 days thinking that I had dented the doors, until I got closer.
The Jeep does have an off road ready look about it, however the car doesn’t look out of place if you valet park it at your local tennis club either, for good measure I did test this out, but sadly I didn’t get a picture so you will just have to trust me on that one. This is one of the characteristics that make crossovers so appealing.
How does it drive?
With my two weeks living with the Compass I completed over 1,000miles on a mix of interstate, city driving and broken roads. The Jeep adapted to all environments easily and felt at home everywhere we went.
The Jeep Compass North comes with the 2.4-litre engine; this is the larger and more powerful of the two petrol options. I think this engine strikes a fine balance between performance and economy. I spent most of the time with 4 people in the car so the additional horse power from the bigger engine came in handy. I think if I was to havehad the 2.0-litreit may have been more difficult to build up the speed required to safely join the busy traffic on the interstates and wound have struggled on some of the bigger hills. The 2.4-litre works nicely with the 1,511kg weight of the car without costing you two much at the pumps.
The gearbox I had for this test drive was the continuously variable automatic box. I like automatics and this one works well and was very smooth throughout. But as is its nature, being continually variable, if you are accelerating a bit harder than normal or travelling up an incline it revs a little higher than necessary and makes the car feel a little under powered at times. Overall it’s a good box that I would be happy using, but I would like to try the manual to see if that makes the driving experience any different.
The steering feel of the Compass is great for day to day use, I only have positive comments about the steering response and feedback. It is a biggish car and even with a full load the car is just as easy and responsive to drive as it is empty, so the driving experience isn’t tiring at all.
The ride in the crossover is difficult to get right as it is always a compromised setup between on and off road. The ride could be described as a little hard when taking on some of the broken roads or pot holes. However having the harder ride does benefit the Compass at higher cornering speeds and feels great on the motorways.
One thing that did seem prominent about the Compass was that the car did let in a little more road noise than I would have expected from a car in this class. Not that it bothered me too much as the radio drowned it out nicely, but it was noticeable, I guess it could be down to something as simple as a different tyre choice.
Around town, parking, or dodging road works the Compass feels like a small car. You’re not worried about reversing into a tight spot or driving through a tight gap, the visibility from the driving seat is great and you have a great gauge on exactly how much road you are taking up.
The Jeep Experience
The experience that I had with this car was great. One of its strongest points is that there is nothing to actually dislike about this car. It is a relatively inexpensive mini-SUV that looks more up market than ever. The Jeep looked after me and 3 passengers for 2 weeks without any discomfort or complications. It’s just a good balance; it isn’t too big on the outside but has loads of useable room on the inside. You can easily take this on a 4 hour motorway journey without feeling the tire of driving as it is very kind to the driver. The joy of being in the Jeep is that you are unlikely to come across a situation that this modern midsized crossovercan’t conquer.
- 2014 Jeep Compass – North 4×4
- Price: £19,995
- Power: 168bhp
- Torque:162 lb/ft
- Transmission:Continuously variable automatic
- 0-62mph: 10.5 Seconds
- Top speed: 116mph
- Weight: 1,511kg
- CO2: 209g/km
Author: Paul Hadley