Jeep Compass 4xe review: SUV finds its direction

We drive the impressive new plug-in hybrid version of Jeep’s mid-size SUV …

Jeep Compass 4xe review

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Jeep Compass 4xe review

When I first drove the Jeep Compass shortly after its 2018 launch, I really wanted to like it. It was practical and looked good, but for me it was let down by an unsophisticated diesel engine, disappointing fuel economy and an overwhelming interior.

Fast forward to 2022 and Jeep has added a new plug-in hybrid version to the renewed Compass range, which will battle with other PHEV SUVs including Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4, Vauxhall Grandland and Volkswagen Tiguan.

By using roughly the same plug-in hybrid system as the smaller Renegade 4xe (which is not bad), the new Compass 4xe also has a facelift from the inside out, and gets a technology update.

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Like all PHEVs, the Compass 4xe offers the best of both worlds, delivering part of the experience of an EV without any of the associated range anxiety.

My test car was equipped with the most powerful version of the hybrid system used in Renegade, and produced a total of 237 horsepower from the 1.3-liter turbo gasoline engine. There are two electric motors and there is assistance from an 11.4 kWh battery.

On the road, the compass works when it is best to drive on electricity, petrol or a combination of both, to provide the perfect performance in a given situation.

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The EV mode lasts for up to 30 miles at speeds of up to 80 mph, which means that visits to the garage will be rare occasions for users with low mileage. As with all PHEVs, it works most efficiently if you can charge the battery overnight or at work (less than two hours with a charging point of 7.4 kW).

There are potentially huge fuel savings to be made, but even on long journeys where most of the time is spent on motorways with petrol engines with hybrid assistance, it can return around 40 mpg.

First impression is good. The gentle makeover, which includes new full LED headlights and a renewed seven-compartment grille, gives Compass a fresh new look and more road presence.

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The biggest changes are reserved for the cabin, which seems to have received a total overhaul, with better build quality, more exclusive feel and updated technology.

Standard features include a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel for the driver and the latest 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 center console infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

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There is also a “Hey Jeep” voice assistant for hands-free adjustment of the air conditioning and media, or for setting up TomTom satellite navigation. The new infotainment set is nice and sharp, a huge improvement.

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The new Compass is a surprisingly refined cruiser, and you would never know that the engine is so frugal, given the overall torque.

Obviously, the engine gets louder if you floor it and there is no hot hatch at kickdown, but for the record, the petrol hybrid combo can deliver a 0-60 mph time of just 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 124 mph.

Even more important for many is that CO2 emissions are as low as 45 g / km, which means that business users can receive significant tax benefits.

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There is the occasional hesitation when switching between electricity and hybrid – and vice versa – but the system generally works well. And compared to some PHEVs equipped with CVT gearboxes, the traditional six-speed automatic transmission is a breath of fresh air.

Available basic driving modes include Hybrid, Electric and E-save, which store the battery energy for use at a later stage while maintaining range or can convert the engine to a generator to charge the battery.

There are also the Auto, Sport, Snow, Sand and Mud modes. And as you can expect from a serious off-road car, there is also a low gear with 4WD, 4WD lock and hill.

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I tried some green-laning and it worked great on road tires. Compared to the resistance, it is one of the most capable 4 × 4 off-road vehicles with plenty of grip and good ground clearance.

Even if you only use a small proportion of that ability, it is good to know that in theory it can withstand tough terrain or extreme weather conditions, such a flood.

A commanding driving position, compact outer proportions, supportive leather seats and technology for driving assistance (including a reversing camera as standard and an optional 360-degree camera) make progress in the Compass 4xe comfortable and elegant.

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The compass handles well, feels complex and is easy to maneuver in the city. For a relatively heavy car, it is even quite entertaining to drive, especially in Sport mode, with body stiffness under control and decent grip.

The total cabin space is not class-leading, but there is room for two adult-sized passengers in the rear, while the luggage capacity is slightly lower on a standard Compass, which offers a modest 420 liters (1,239 liters with the rear seats folded down).

The update means that the Compass 4xe is now packed with the latest safety kit as well, ranging from Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Traffic Sign Recognition to Drowsy Driver Alert and LaneSense Departure Warning.

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It is also the first jeep vehicle in Europe to offer level 2 autonomous driving. Highway Assist combines adaptive cruise control and file centering, which allows the car to automatically adjust speed and lane.

Priced from £ 39,895, there are two trim levels – the “S” or the more terrain-oriented “Trailhawk”.

Judgment: With the introduction of plug-in hybrid technology, the Jeep Compass is now the car it always should have been. Comfortable, refined, well-built, economical, easy to drive and packed with the latest technology, the 4xe is one of the best and most capable 4 × 4 PHEVs on the market.

Review in collaboration with

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