By Bill McCarthy
JEEP is a name synonymous with durability and rugged off-road capability, a wartime legend that has been around for 80 years.
I drove the first Jeep Compass at its launch a few years ago. It was a competent but bland vehicle which has evolved over the years, until it took a quantum leap forward with a completely new model in 2017.
Tweaked again recently, with the logic ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, the style may not suit those who like svelte profiles, but for those who like the rugged look, there is no mistaking it is a Jeep.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have style, it does, offering high-quality finish, typical off-road Jeep capability and a bit of a wow factor, featuring some show-stopping colours.
It has also joined the race to electrification with the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant, driven here, offering a nominal economy of 147 mpg and capable of just over 30-miles on electric power with tailpipe emissions of zero.
This latest version features a new, but familliar seven-slot grille and revised bumper, slim headlight clusters with LEDs and daytime running lights and a redesigned foglamp housing.
In addition there are striking looking 19-inch alloys and a powered boot lid which can also be operated via a ‘kick’ action.
The interior now has a more upmarket, executive feel, certainly with this model which featured leather seating with high-tech aluminium and carbon fibre-effect and gloss black finishes, and good quality soft-touch trim.
Major controls and switchgear are logically placed and feel robust, while the brains of the car is the central 10-inch touch screen.
This controls functions like navigation, Uconnect 5 connectivity and infotainment system and is complemented by a 10.25 digital instrument cluster which offers around two dozen configuration options in five customisable menus.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available as is wireless charging.
This range-topper is not cheap at £40k plus, but is packed with equipment like heated, powered front seats, 180 degree camera, powered door mirrors and a host of electric and electronic bells and whistles.
The updated 1.3-litre plug-in hybrid engine is now turbocharged to deliver a stonking 240hp and lower emissions and that excellent economy.
This version is mated with a six-speed automatic transmission and an electric motor located on the rear axle, powered by an 11.4kWh battery that can be recharged from a 7kW Wallbox or a commercial outlet.
It surprisingly quick off the mark, racing to 60mph in just over seven seconds while the CVT gearshift is much improved.
There are three different driving modes hybrid, electric only, and E-Save, which maintains the charge level of the battery by letting the engine charge it up. This is an option if you are unable to use a wall socket, for instance in flats or terraced houses.
Take it off road and Selec-Terrain® traction offers four driving modes, while the Trailhawk set-up on this model offers an extra low ratio option for the most difficult conditions.
With the ability to cruise for 30 miles on electric power, but get on the motorway and the petrol engine kicks in with a consequent effect on economy.
Handling manners are OK although it does lean a bit into corners and it can be unsettled by the worst roads, but generally it is a comfortable cruiser with occupants well insulated from road and wind noise.
It is practical with a much larger central storage compartment while the boot still offers 438 litres with the split/folding seats in place.
Safety kit is comprehensive with adaptive cruise control, full comment of airbags, autonomous braking featuring pedestrian and cyclist detection, driver drowsiness alerts, traffic-sign recognition and intelligent speed-limit assistance.
Jeep Compass S 4xe
Mechanical: 240hp, 1,332hp petrol engine and electric motor driving fall wheels via auto gearbox
Max speed: 124mph
0-60mph: 8.2 seconds
Combine mpg: 148 miles (WLTP)
Insurance group: 31
CO2 emissions: 44g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles