The Compass belongs to the small SUV category but its larger dimensions mean it is almost big enough to compete with models in the mid-size SUV segment.
It’s longer, taller, wider and has a longer wheelbase than other larger small SUVs like the Kia Seltos and Honda HR-V, but isn’t as big as a midsize Mazda CX-5.
It feels bigger inside than other models it shares a platform with – namely the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X, which are no longer sold in Australia.
The biggest change that the update ushered in is the interior. Jeep has completely renovated the cabin to the point that it is unrecognizable compared to the facelifted model.
The new dashboard design is much more appealing and the layout is well executed. There is a mix of soft materials and plastic panels with red stitching running across the fascia. It’s so much more up-to-date than the old Compass and the cabin has a rugged yet semi-premium look.
A new steering wheel is in line with Jeep’s new generation of models which includes the Grand Cherokee coming to Australia this year. It is thick, feels nice to the touch and has clear sound, telephone and cruise control.
Jeep has continued with its quirk of housing the volume and song/station buttons on the back of the steering wheel covers. Once you remember which side volume is live (on the right), it’s easy to change the levels. But surely it would be better to place them on the front of the wheel, with labels?
In terms of storage, the glove box is narrow, as is the central bin, but it is deep. The doors hold 600 ml bottles and the console holds two reasonably sized cup holders with durable rubber lining that is easy to clean and withstands beatings. The cup holders are separated by an upright phone holder.
Speaking of durability, that’s clearly the theme Jeep is going after with the Compass Trailhawk interior. It comes standard with rubber mats throughout, including the boot, which is great for protecting the mat if you want to do a bit of camping.
What isn’t durable, however, is the cheap and tacky indicator shaft that feels like it’s going to come off every time you touch it.
Having spent time in pre-Jeep European cars, it’s nice to experience a strong airflow from the air conditioning system, especially at the height of a Melbourne summer. It’s also good to see physical buttons for the air conditioning controls.
However, you can also control the climate via the latest multimedia system “Uconnect 5” found in the 10.1-inch touchscreen.
This system is undoubtedly one of the strong points of the compass. The modern graphics look very cool and the main icons make sense.
Once you dive into the menu, there’s extensive options but it’s not overwhelming. It’s intuitive and smart. The satellite navigation is also clear and appealing.
It’s an excellent setup and better than systems from a host of Jeep’s mainstream rivals.
Apple CarPlay setup was easy but there is an odd delay when selecting a command on the touchscreen that isn’t there when using the Jeep system.
Another highlight is the exceptional nine-speaker Alpine sound system that is part of the Trailhawk Premium package. It’s a belt!
The new digital instrument cluster has clear dials but changing the screen layout is cumbersome. The compass also lacks a head-up display.
The front seats with red embossed Trailhawk up front look good, but the cushion feels like it raises you in the seat. There is no problem with the power adjustment, it’s just the way the damping is designed. Thigh support is limited but upper body support is good.
Visibility is affected by the narrow rear windscreen and the small rear windows behind the C-pillar, which are pointless.
Rear passengers have access to lower air vents, a USB-A and USB-C port, a 230-volt AC socket and a 12-volt DC socket. There are two map pockets, rubber floor mats and 600ml bottles fit right in the door.
Space-wise, there’s plenty of rear legroom and toeroom, and just enough headroom for this six-footer to avoid scraping the roofline.
Getting in and out of the front and back seats is easy thanks to the Compass’ ride height.
The rear seats are flat and firm and the 60/40 split seats have a fold-down center armrest with two cup holders.
When you open the powered tailgate, the boot doesn’t look particularly large, but at 438 liters (1251L with the rear seats folded), it’s five liters more than the Kia Seltos GT-Line and eight more than the Haval Jolion.
A full-size spare wheel resides under the boot floor and the cargo area has metal locking hooks and a small storage box.
The cargo curtain is useful but there is nowhere to store it when not in use. And you have to lower the rear seats when you want to put it back in place.