Want the practicality of a medium SUV, but need to head off the beaten track? The Jeep Compass Trailhawk could be the answer.
So, you’re an adventurer, but want a medium-sized SUV. While most SUVs in this segment have on-demand four-wheel-drive systems, you’ll struggle to find one that works around the city and out in the bush.
Jeep thinks otherwise. The 2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk is here and it aims to offer a decent mix between SUV practicality and off-road ruggedness, or at least the appearance of off-road ruggedness.
You may recall the last Jeep Compass. It was a certified fail and was thankfully the last of the nasty Jeep products to see the light of day in Australia.
That’s all changed with the new Compass. Sharing a platform with the smaller Renegade, the Compass slots in between the Renegade and Cherokee within the Jeep line-up.
The Trailhawk takes it to the next level with a Jeep Trail Rated badge that means it’s certified to pass standards set by Jeep for traction, water fording, manoeuvrability, articulation and ground clearance.
To put that into perspective, it features a 30-degree approach angle, 33.6-degree departure angle, 225mm of ground clearance and the ability for the wheels to articulate up to 200mm, plus a 480mm wading depth.
It makes use of a low-range transmission with five off-road modes that adjust stability-control intervention and the distribution of torque. There’s also a manually lockable centre differential and hill descent control.
You can spot the Trailhawk in traffic thanks to exposed recovery points, a steeped front end that improves approach angle, off-road tyres and a ‘Trail Rated’ badge.
The exterior also has elements of Grand Cherokee to it, which is definitely a good thing – plus that trademark seven-pillar grille.
The Compass range kicks off from $28,850 (plus on-road costs), with the Trailhawk topping the range with an asking price of $44,750 (plus on-road costs).
That price is deceptive, though, because the car you see here has $5895 worth of options fitted, pushing the price out to over $50,000 before on-road costs.
The options include the Advanced Technology Group ($4850), which packages rear cross traffic alert, AEB, blind spot monitoring, power tailgate, lane departure warning and radar cruise control – all of which should really be standard.
Also fitted was the $2850 Comfort and Convenience Group, which includes proximity key entry and start, heated seats and electric driver and front passenger seats. Again, most of this gear should really be standard at this price. Finally, there’s the $595 premium paint option, which applies to all colours except the solid red.
Under the bonnet of the Compass Trailhawk is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine that produces 125kW of power and 350Nm of torque, mated to a four-wheel-drive system and nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Fuel consumption for the diesel engine comes in at a respectable 5.7L/100km.
We tested the Trailhawk in the USA with the entry-level 2.4-litre petrol engine and were pretty underwhelmed with the drivetrain. Thankfully, the Trailhawk here is only offered with the 2.0-litre diesel.
Inside the cabin, Jeep has done an excellent job with interior accommodation and fit and finish. Built in India, the Compass is well put together and all materials around the cabin feel premium.
Central to the vehicle’s communications and infotainment is the 8.4-inch UConnect colour touchscreen infotainment system. It takes the game to the next level with ultra-sharp graphics, inbuilt satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It’s backed by a stellar six-speaker stereo system that includes connectivity through Bluetooth, auxiliary and USB. The second row even features USB charging and a 230V power outlet.
Leg and head room in the first row are excellent. The seats are comfortable and a remote-start feature allows for an easy pre-cool or heat function, starting the climate control on the last used setting.
The second row also offers ample leg and head room. Visibility out the windows is great with a large glasshouse, while an automatic up/down feature is fitted to all windows.
Folding in a 40/20/40 configuration, the second row features a centre armrest, plus two ISOFIX points on the two outer seats and three top tether tie-down points.
The boot offers 438 litres of cargo capacity, which expands to 1251 litres when you fold the second row. The cargo space is quite versatile with storage either side and full-sized steel wheel beneath the cargo floor.
Hit the starter button and the clattery diesel comes to life. It’s quiet enough inside the cabin, but it can be pretty noisy on the outside.
In and around town, the Trailhawk offers plenty of punch with a hearty 350Nm of torque available from 1750rpm.
The nine-speed automatic gearbox does a great job in general of offering torque whenever it’s required. But it can sometimes interrupt progressive braking when it flares on the way down gears while coming to a stop. Not a big deal, but it becomes noticeable.
Ride quality is excellent thanks to the 17-inch wheels that ride on chubby 60-profile rubber. The off-road-oriented tread pattern can be slightly noisy at highway speeds, but it’s not overly intrusive within the cabin.
While 350Nm is plenty for this segment, the slightly porky 1621kg mass can sometimes get the better of the engine, especially if you’re carrying a car full of passengers.
Off the beaten track is where the Trailhawk really shines and makes sense.
We put the Trailhawk through a set of tests to see whether it could cope with the type of terrain most buyers would expect to come across in something like a dual-cab ute.
An offset mogul stopped the Trailhawk in its tracks when running in its standard four-wheel-drive mode. With the centre differential locked, it was able to free itself from a situation where it had two wheels off the ground.
It uses an intelligent traction-control system that keeps momentum without killing torque. Once it moves forward enough, there’s adequate torque through the remaining wheels to get it going.
The 225mm of ground clearance ensures it is high enough off the ground to clear most obstacles. We threw it over some exposed rocks to see how well it would cope with the jarring motion of continuous rocky terrain.
When switching the four-wheel-drive system to Rock mode, it asks the driver to engage low-range, where it dulls throttle response to prevent the car surging forward and potentially damaging the underbody.
It’s actually pretty impressive how well it copes with the type of surface you’d normally only attempt in a proper four-wheel drive.
With 480mm of wading depth on offer, we also drove through a 450mm wading pool to see how it would cope with water in and around the doors. Unsurprisingly, it passed through the bath without any dramas.
Jeep recently introduced the There and Back Guarantee that covers new Jeeps with a five-year warranty, lifetime roadside assistance and five years of capped-price servicing.
Over a five-year period, the Compass requires servicing every 12 months or 20,000km, with a five-year total servicing cost of $2975, averaging out to $595 per service.
The all-new Jeep Compass takes it to the next level for the Jeep brand in Australia. While some of the optional extras really should be standard, the Compass Trailhawk is great fun to drive and incredibly capable off-road.
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