Monday, June 15, 2020

Review: 2020 Jeep Compass


Apple pie, McDonald’s, and Jeep—there are no other things that give off a strong whiff of Americana than these. Jeep, in particular, is associated as the freedom fighter that trampled on the Nazis. It’s probably more G.I. Joe than Duke and Sgt. Slaughter put together. So, what happens when this unequivocal piece of what makes America great gets made in, of all places, China?

The Donald surely won’t like it, and he’ll probably lash out on Twitter. But the fact of the matter is this: it’s all globalization’s fault. True enough, the Compass is made in five places, and none of them are in the U.S.A. If anything, this is Jeep wanting to appeal to a well-traveled market—those who like the idea of backyard barbecues and supersized cheeseburgers, but are probably just as comfortable with dumplings and biryani.



Upon seeing the Compass in person, things start out well. It basically shares its underpinnings with the Renegade (save for a longer wheelbase), but in person, it feels larger partly because its bodywork bulges out in a more muscular way than its more playfully styled sibling. “Mini Grand Cherokee” is a phrase that gets thrown around quite a bit, and that’s a good thing.

The Compass’s most recognizable styling cue is the shark’s fin-shaped D-pillar. While it looks great from the outside, it results in a huge expanse of plastic interior molding with tiny windows barely able to let in any light. This can be somewhat problematic with travel-anxious kids. The standard panoramic sunroof helps keep the cabin feel open and airy, but given Manila’s scorching heat, it’ll remain closed most of the time.



It passes muster when it comes to exterior appeal, but sadly, the odds aren’t in its favor inside. The design of the dash is clean and tidy, but the fixtures have a rent-a-car feel to them. There are some nice, soft touch points but they are few and far between. Plus, the distractions are far too great to ignore from the flimsy feeling stalks, toy plastic quality window switches, and silver-painted plastic on the vents that look too much like, well, plastic. A bit of leather would have helped lift up the cabin, alas there’s only urethane on the steering wheel, and a cloth and vinyl combination on the seats. As it stands, the interior’s more for the Hertz fleet than a country club parking lot.

The lack of upscale trim is a shame because there’s actually a lot to like with the Compass. For the driver, there’s a large, meaty steering wheel with 14 buttons all in all—8 buttons at the front (multi-info display and phone) and 6 hidden on the reverse of the spokes (audio). It requires a re-think, but eventually it’s logical enough to be usable. The 7-inch Apple CarPlay-equipped Uconnect system is also easy to navigate with clear, snappy menus, and thankfully redundant physical controls. At the back, there’s enough space for grown-ups to sit in comfort. Plus, they also get their own air vents. The cargo hold is commendable too, and flexible with a multi-level floor.



Jeep Purists will also be happy to know that the Compass feels every inch like an American-tuned SUV. With that, it chucks out any sense of cornering prowess for outright comfort. The steering, while accurate, is vague around the center. Through crests and dips, the suspension is well-tied, but more surprising is how it feels so well-tied even when going through ruts. Ground clearance is at a generous 208 mm and water wading is set at 330 mm. The cabin too is isolated from any unwanted noise, vibration, or harshness. And the brakes have good bite, and feel up to the task of hauling this compact SUV down in a hurry.

Speaking of being in a hurry, don’t expect the Compass to feel fast despite packing a turbocharged engine. The Fiat-sourced 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo makes a respectable 162 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque, but it’s saddled by the heavy 1,500-kilogram curb weight. Treating the accelerator sensibly, it feels week, especially from a standstill—like all the verve has been sucked out. At higher speeds, it manages to find its footing. Fair warning: mash the throttle through a corner and it’s still capable of chirping the front wheels, though that’s down to its softly-sprung suspension and two-wheel drive.



The most controversial aspect isn’t even the Compass’s choice of driven wheels—that goes to corporate’s decision to fit the engine with a dry-type dual clutch automatic. Thoughts of Ford’s infamously unreliable Getrag-made Power Shift come to mind, so it’s worth knowing that the Jeep’s gearbox is made by BorgWarner. The answer to its long-term reliability is still up in the air, but in the here and now, gearbox is responsive, but can be rough in stop-and-go traffic. Shifts between first and second gear are particularly jerky. The interior too is filled at all times with all sorts of audible clunks and whirring—something exaggerated by the quietness of the cabin.

Fuel economy isn’t a strong suit of the Compass either. Despite being driven in light traffic (22 km/h), the trip computer registered just 8.69 km/L (its official mixed city/highway figure stands at 16.12 km/L). So, imagine what the situation would be like in heavier traffic. Oh, and take note that it requires a diet of 95 octane fuel.



At P 1.850-million, the Compass is made more affordable thanks to it being made in China. With that, it’s no longer niche. It competes in a segment dominated by at least half a dozen choices, most of them competitive by some measure. This becomes an uphill battle for Jeep for one single reason: it’s just not speced that well. And it’s a shame because this compact SUV’s actually built on sturdy stuff.

Call it being spoilt for choice, but its bare bones interior aside; it runs on halogen headlights; it doesn’t have any power adjustment for its seats; it has a manual air conditioner; and heck, it only has dual airbags when most of its rivals offer six or seven as standard. Perhaps if it were a few hundred thousand cheaper, or if the standard equipment read longer, then it would have stood a stronger chance.



2020 Jeep Compass
Ownership 2020 Jeep Compass 1.4T Longitude 4x2
Year Introduced 2020
Vehicle Classification Compact SUV
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basic
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.4
Aspiration Turbo
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 162 @ 5,500
Nm @ rpm 250 @ 3,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 95~
Transmission 7 DCT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 8.69 km/L @ 22 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,415
Width (mm) 1,819
Height (mm) 1,625
Wheelbase (mm) 2,636
Curb Weight (kg) 1,500
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Yokohama Geolandar SUV 225/60 R 17 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No, w/ Rear Parking Camera (as tested)
Yes, Rear w/ Rear Parking Camera
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Tire Pressure Monitoring
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front & Rear
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Urethane
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Cloth/Vinyl
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Proximity Key No
Climate Control Manual, with Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Aux
USB
Bluetooth
Apple CarPlay
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

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