2022 Jeep Compass Trailhawk facelift review, test drive – Introduction

The terrain-focused compass makes a return with all the updates from the facelifted compass. We spend a day with it to see what it’s like.

When Jeep launched the facelift Compass early last year it held back the Trailhawk and launched only the standard trim levels. But now, a year later, the off-road focused variant is back with new bits from the facelift as well as expected kit from formerly Trailhawkalong with some minor adjustments.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk facelift exterior: subtle changes

On the outside, the Trailhawk’s black hood decal gets a striking, stylish red stripe with the “Trailhawk” lettering cut into it; the alloy wheels have a different pattern and the bumper gets a slightly different style, but as before it cuts sharper for a better approach angle.

Aside from the hood decal, it’s the die-cut front bumper that really visually sets the Trailhawk apart.

As before, the higher ride suspension, full undercarriage and red rear towbar are also present; and like the previous Trailhawk, the front tow bar has been deleted due to pedestrian safety standards. The red Trailhawk badge continues to sit on the tailgate, while the Trail Rated 4X4 emblem adorns the fenders.

Unlike the 18-inch wheels on the facelifted Compass, the Trailhawk gets smaller 17-inchers, which offer better damping and rim protection off-road thanks to taller sidewalls. Curiously, the tires are labeled HT (Highway Terrain), but Jeep says these Falken tires are better suited for off-road driving.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk facelift interior: Small but comfortable

Inside, the new Trailhawk benefits from the updated Compass’ major interior makeover, getting the new dashboard, standalone 10.1-inch touchscreen, steering wheel and highly customizable 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster that, thankfully, also includes a nice screen option with two dials.

Based on top-spec ‘S’ trim, the Trailhawk also gets goodies like a 360-degree camera, it’s useful terrain marking, a large panoramic sunroof and power and ventilated front seats with memory function for the driver’s side. Also, just like the regular Compass, space isn’t class-leading and the trunk is just about adequate.

The seats get ‘Trailhawk’ embroidered in red.

Differentiating itself from its siblings, the Trailhawk gets red stitching on the seats, dashboard and steering wheel, with ‘Trailhawk’ embroidered into the seats. What sets it apart, however, is the Rock mode in the selectable driving modes. Interestingly, while the facelifted car had a separate Sand and Mud mode, the updated car – and thus the new Trailhawk – has these combined.

The Rock mode differentiates the Trailhawk from the standard Compass.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk Facelift: Off the Trail

Driving the Trailhawk off-road is quite easy and the Auto mode works well – even locking the rear differential automatically when needed. You can also use the modes manually if you want specific control over the terrain. Snow mode starts the car in higher gears and is extremely gentle with the power, Sand and Mud limits wheelspin to prevent you from digging in with too much wheelspin, while Rock mode allows a little more spin to help you get a foothold on hard ground.

Taller sidewalls provide better cushioning, usable terrain.

The modes work well, and the compass climbs over pretty much anything I throw at it; traction is good from the tires and power delivery is nice and linear allowing for good throttle modulation. What really makes a difference and sets the Trailhawk apart are the better off-road angles – 30 degrees for approach, 24 degrees for ramp break and 34 degrees for departure. Jeep hasn’t released angles for the new updated Compass, but the facelifted car had a 16.8-degree approach, 22.9-degree ramp break and 31.7-degree departure angle.

Another handy piece of terrain is the 20:1 crawl ratio. Interestingly, while others house the low-ratio in the gearbox – thereby multiplying the torque coming out of the gearbox – the Compass’ low-ratio is built inside the gearbox itself and is effectively the first gear in the box. Thus, for normal driving, the compass starts in the second ratio and gears 2 to 9 are used for normal road driving, first for difficult conditions and when 4low is selected. The advantage of this system is that it creates a more efficient power flow.

Impressively, alongside the Compass’ off-road prowess is its on-road manners. At low speeds there is a noticeable body shake and the ride is stiff, but it never crashes through potholes and as you go faster the ride just gets better and better. High-speed poise and stability, even over less-than-perfect road surfaces, is truly impressive and confidence-inspiring. The steering feel is also impressive and there is a good weight on the steering wheel at high speeds. But at parking speeds, while the effort is acceptable, those who prefer a super light wheel will be disappointed.

Along with the Compass Trailhawk’s off-road prowess, its on-road manners are also impressive.

The 170 hp, 2.0-liter diesel engine is very refined, and together with the 9-speed auto box, it provides a very smooth driving experience. It’s not peppy and punchy and the gearbox is also quite slow to respond, even in manual mode. That’s not to say it’s underpowered – the power on tap is sufficient to get you up to speed – but its smooth and linear nature is best suited to cruising at a steady pace. Compared to the regular car, the Trailhawk also feels less peppy, no doubt the heavier weight is a factor, which also shows in its claimed fuel efficiency of 14.9 kpl, lower than the 15.3 kpl of the 4X4 ‘S’ trim car.

The 2.0 diesel engine is smooth and refined.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk facelift: verdict

So which compass should you buy? Should you buy one in the first place? If space is a big priority, look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for a tough, well-equipped SUV that’s a joy to drive both on and off-road, then the Compass should be high on your list. And then, if you really want to hit the road and pick up where the compass leaves off, look towards the Trailhawk.

See also:

Jeep Compass Trailhawk facelift video review

2021 Jeep Compass facelift review, test drive

2021 Jeep Compass Facelift Video Review

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