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Jeep Compass (2011 - 2014)

CHEAP JEEP (some text hidden)

By Jonathan Crouch

Introductionword count: 99

Jeep has a heritage going all the way back to 1941, but smaller models to compete in the compact SUV sector have only arrived in fairly recent years. The American brand tried to enter this market in 2007 with its Compass model, but it looked awkward and wasn't offered in the more efficient 2WD guise that many buyers wanted. Hence the introduction of a much improved Compass model that arrived in 2011 and sold until 2014 - the car we're going to look at here. It's the first compact Jeep that really makes any sense on the used market.

Modelsword count: 7

(2.0 petrol, 2.4 petrol, 2.2 CRD diesel)

Historyword count: 237

Jeep's a tough breed of car and a tough brand - which is just as well given the knocks it's taken over the last few years. Back in 2011, the company was just being taken over by Fiat, who forced the marque to take a more pragmatic view of the market, especially the compact SUV sector where sales were buoyant. Jeep had tried to enter this segment in 2007 with the original version of their Compass model but this was an ugly car that only came in 4WD form with outdated engines, so was very inefficient to run. There were, in other words, lots of reasons not to buy it. Fiat's top brass sent Jeep's development team back to the drawing board and in 2011, they came back with the same underpinnings clothed in a much more acceptable package. The looks of this improved Compass were acceptably smart and there was 2WD in the lower reaches of the range plus a decent 2.2-litre CRDi diesel engine for those who could stretch beyond the entry-level 2.0-litre petrol unit. All this was done without compromising this Jeep's off road ability. This car would still go further in the muck than most of its rivals, but the idea was now that buyers shouldn't be constantly reminded of the fact on the school run. This model sold until 2014, after which it was effectively replaced by the much more modern Renegade.

What You Getword count: 680

The original Compass model launched in 2007 sold alongside another compact Jeep, the Patriot, chunkier and more muscular-looking so that Compass customers could get something more avant garde, trendy and MINI-like. It wasn't well received, with bug-eyed round headlamps that looked as surprised as Jeep die-hards were at its launch. That Compass, which lasted only a couple of years on the UK market, still lives on under the skin of this one - but you wouldn't know it, so far-reaching were the changes made for its return to the British SUV segment in the Spring of 2011. By then, the Patriot had gone, so this car needed to satisfy a much wider spectrum of buyers - everyone in fact, who wanted a day-to-day usable Jeep and couldn't afford a Grand Cherokee. This, then, was the car the Compass should have been from the very beginning, sporty cues (the steeply raked windscreen, the roof rails and the sleek door mirrors) matched to classic Jeep design language (the traditional seven slot grille and the squared-off wheelarches). Those two aspects clashed in the original version of this car. In this post-2011 version, with more purposeful styling borrowed from the fourth generation Grand Cherokee, they blend together. There's a tough, cohesive feel to the Jeep line-up from the 2011 to 2014 era and at this level, it's all a world away from the shy, polite look of a rival Hyundai ix35, Skoda Yeti or Volkswagen Tiguan. Inside, the elevated driving position is as you expect but the few that remember the original Jeep Compass model will find the dashboard of this revised post-2011 version re-styled to good effect. There's soft-touch padded trim on the upper surfaces of the front doors and the central armrest to compensate for the hard plastic that remains on the dash. You wouldn't mistake this cabin for that of a Volkswagen Tiguan or even a Kia Sportage, but in its own way, it's very smartly turned out, with splashes of chrome, illuminated cupholders in the centre console, backlit switches for the door handles and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and handbrake. All do their best to create a premium feeling. For the driver, getting comfortable would be a little easier if the good-looking three-spoke wheel adjusted for reach as well as rake, but we like its chunky feel and the way that the armrest slides up three inches to suit all shapes and sizes and the design of the gear lever that sprouts from the dash so that it falls more easily to hand. For total comfort though, you'll need to be in a plusher variant and get the benefit of 6-way electrically adjustable front seats. You can't fault the practical family touches though. The huge centre console storage bin that conceals a 12v power socket for charging 'phones and MP3 players. The generously sized glovebox with shelf above and properly shaped door pockets. The mirrors that electrically fold to avoid parking knocks. The rear seat is intended to be able to properly seat three adults but thanks to the high centre transmission tunnel which restricts middle occupant space, that'll only be for short journeys. Three kids will be quite happy though and a couple of adults will be able to relax in some comfort, thanks to decent head, leg and shoulder room and the way that the backrest reclines by 12-degrees. Behind, there's 458-litres of luggage capacity in a thoughtfully designed boot area. Take the interior light, which can be unclipped to become a bright torch. Or the way that the speakers can be specified to hinge downwards and create an al fresco open air concert as your steaks sizzle on the barbecue. If more luggage capacity is required, the seatbacks split-fold 60:40 in the usual way and fold completely flat so that you can make the very most of the 1269-litres of total space on offer. And there's more than that if you take advantage of a flat-folding front passenger seat that enable you to carry bulkier items - a mountain bike perhaps with all its wheels in place.

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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
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