What is it?
The new and improved entry-level Jeep (there’s no Patriot now), and a much better car than the one it replaces. That was a ropey old American that became a benchmark of crapness. Things have changed since Fiat bought Chrysler so not only is this all-new version a big improvement, but it actually does a decent impression of a real car, on the road and off. It’s a budget Freelander, and we mean that as a compliment.
Despite the improvements, this is still more of an old-fashioned off-roader than some other crossover types. Its road manners are a touch loose, and it’s probably happier crawling around a quarry than nosing through a sweeping corner. So it trades handling for comfort, and does a better job of straightlining motorways than it does hugging an apex. You have two engines to pick from, starting with a 2.0-litre petrol with two-wheel-drive. Then there’s a 2.2 diesel, newly sourced from Mercedes, available with either two- or four-wheel-drive. It’s a bit rustic, but the racket fades into the background once you settle into a steady cruise. The petrol engine has the best emissions stats, but we’d go for the diesel with 4WD for the extra torque and traction (there’s only a few mpg between them, anyhow). Then you can make the most of the short overhangs and 4x4-ness when the road runs out and there’s a cliff to drive up.
On the inside
You won’t get fashion magazines writing about the cabin design, but the quality is now more or less up to par, and more thought has been applied to little details – the cupholders are illuminated and there are silvery accents here and there. Standard equipment on basic Sport models include some leathery bits (handbrake, gearlever, etc), and upgrading to a Limited version brings full leather upholstery, plus other amenities like a more juicy stereo. There’s lots of space, too, and despite being a bit shallow the boot can handle 458 litres of lifestyle accoutrements. A Ford Kuga manages just 360.
Now the old diesel has been binned, replaced by a shiny new one from Mercedes, running costs have improved. Jeep claims 46.3mpg so you can reasonably expect something close to 40 if you
drive with your sensible shoes on. At 37.2mpg the petrol is less impressive and defeats the whole idea of an affordable baby SUV. Value is the USP here, and prices start from £16,995 rising to £21,695 for a top-end model with all the extra goodies. Spec-for-spec versus other cars in this segment, you won’t find much that gives you as much for your cash as the Jeep Compass.