First Drives

09 February 2018

First drive: Jeep Compass Trailhawk

Jeep's bestseller in India gets a more off-roadie version. And guess what? It's coming to India

Agasti Kaulgi
Car image

I'm done reading about pseudo off-road versions of SUVs and crossovers. If this is one of them, I'm out of here...
Hold on, hold on. This is a Jeep and nothing about Jeeps is ever pseudo when it comes to off-road credentials. So you're not going to be disappointed.

Thank you. I'd like to know more. Low-range? Differential locks? More clearance?
All of it.

Nice. I'm liking it already. Can you tell me more?
If you insist.

Ummm, go ahead.
Okay, here goes. Jeep does a Trailhawk version of all its SUVs. A version that's 'trail rated'. A version that can handle much more abuse. A version that can tackle muck, rocks, sand and various other things that Mother Nature has to throw at it.

So, to do so, it changes and adds essential hardware to the models. And if need be, changes some aesthetic bits like bumpers etc to cope up. In this case, the off-road junkies at Jeep have taken up the Compass project and done their magic to it. They've added a new 4WD system with a low-range transfer case that can be switched in to at a hit of a button. With that, the ratio is well suited to crawl over rocks without losing traction.

Apart from the low-range transfer case, there's a rear diff lock that can also be activated by a push of a button. With all of this, it does give the Compass plenty to talk about at the off-road camp.

So is it a full-time 4x4 system?
Well, no, it isn't. It sends power to all four wheels only when the on-board computer feels the need to do so. But don't worry, it's seamless and it won't ever leave you with you wanting some more traction, on or off the road.

Does this sit higher than the Compass that's currently sold in India?
Yes, the ground clearance of the Jeep Compass Trailhawk is rated at 225mm, 20mm more than the regular version.

That's good to know. Is there anything more apart from this?
You're now getting greedy.

Sorry about that, but I really want to know...
Okay. To keep lads like you happy, Jeep does have some more than the transfer case and diff locks. The underbody is better shielded and gets more protection for the essential bits. So if you ever run out of clearance, you know there's a safety net.

You mentioned something about aesthetics and bumpers earlier?
Yeah, there have been some changes to the way it looks. No, they're not for your eyes only. Things are actually functional. The bumpers have been reshaped to offer better approach and departure angles. They stand at an astonishing 30.3 and 24.4 degree respectively. Good, no?

Oh yeah, there's also a matte black sticker on the hood. And as we told you, Jeep makes things functional. It's been put in so that the sun doesn't reflect right into your eyes when you go off-roading to the countryside.

It sure is, Jeep's very serious about the off-roading bit and have put in their experiences of the past 75 years into the making of other cars, and not only the Wrangler.

Can you elaborate on the drivetrain of the Trailhawk?
Yes, here it goes. Under the hood is a 2-litre oil-burner that does 168bhp and 350Nm. It may not sound too much, but on the road, it's sufficient to tug a 2.2-tonne SUV. And even in the wilderness, it's enough to pull you out of sticky situations. The engine is mated to a 9-speed transmission.

Oh! The much-spoken about 9-speed dual-clutch transmission?
Unfortunately, it's the torque converter type. According to Jeep, it's better suited for off-roading and can handle a lot of abuse. But on the on road, it isn't even close to quick-shifting dual-clutch transmissions of today. It's slightly laid back and takes a bit to think and give a gear change. But in most cases, it'll get the job done. And the nine ratios will add to the efficiency bit on the highway.

So when's it coming to India?
The guys at Jeep India are tight lipped about the launch date and more details pertaining to the launch, but we understand it's a part of their calendar for 2018.

That's good to know. But Jeep India has been taking their own time to bring products to India, haven't they?
Well, yes, they were to enter India almost two years before they actually did and the Compass also took longer than expected to hit the showroom floor. But with this, we are as hopeful as you are.

Okay. What do you think will be the price tag on the Trailhawk?
Umm, say about Rs 2 lakh more than the current diesel version. But in those Rs 2 lakh, you get an automatic gearbox and off-road hardware. And it'll also stand out from the regular version with altered bumpers and a bright red badge that says 'trail rated'. Happy?

Tags: jeep, compass, off road, american, trailhawk

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