The Jeep Compass, as a product, is quite competent as it offers excellent road manners and is decent off it. And after Jeep India introduced the hardcore Trailhawk version, it was logical that we selected the SUV for this year’s CarWale Off-road Day. Being a Trailrated SUV, the Jeep Compass Trailhawk boasts of a sophisticated 4x4 hardware, low-range gearing and better approach and departure angles. So, the question is, will it impress us with the off-road dexterity that Jeeps are known for? Let’s find it out as we put it through the paces.
The first test that the Jeep Compass Trailhawk had to undergo was the off-road acceleration test through a wet and slushy section. So, we lined-up the Trailhawk at the start-line, slotted it into the ‘Mud’ mode and stomped onto the accelerator. The intelligent Jeep Active Drive System sent enough traction to all four wheels and the dual-sport rubber aided with ample grip in the slippery slush-ridden surface.
With a time of 2.18 seconds to reach 30kmph, the Compass Trailhawk was the second-fastest in the acceleration test. Although the car felt quick off the line, we think it could have posted better sprint timings if the ZF gearbox was a little quicker to react.
Next-up was the off-road braking test. Stopping a vehicle to a dead halt in damp mud means a minimal grip, which is altogether very frightening. But the Compass Trailhawk comes with disc brakes on all four wheels, boosting some confidence. And indeed, when put to the test, this compact Jeep impressed us in the 30-0kmph deceleration test. It stopped within a distance of 12 feet, which is the best among the lot. All thanks to it being lightweight, good grip from the tyres and well-calibrated ABS.
Having driven the Compass Trailhawk, we were impressed with its lightweight body, agility and performance. Naturally then, we were expecting it to shine during the off-road slalom test, and shine it did. Unlike the tall-geared manual version, the short-geared automatic gearbox allowed the SUV to carry good speed to tackle the tightly-spaced cones. Add to that, the nimble chassis, quick steering and the smart electronics helped with minimal understeer over the muddy landscape. The Compass Trailhawk posted a respectful timing of 39.66 seconds, which was second only to the Honda CR-V.
The scientific off-road trail/beaker test involved the co-passenger to hold a beaker full of water (400ml), while we drove the Compass Trailhawk through a section of ruts, ditches, water streams and rocky patches at a constant speed of 20kmph. The idea was to measure the amount of water spilt from the beaker to judge the overall ride quality of the SUV in off-road terrains. Well, the slightly firmer suspension setup resulted in a considerable side-to-side movement. This meant the Trailhawk didn’t quite manage to perform the beaker test well, as 80ml was quite a lot of water-spill.
Off-Road Hill Climb
Being a Trailrated version of the Compass, the Trailhawk comes with serious off-road cred. So, it was obvious to expect the Compass Trailhawk to clamber to the top of the hill with relative ease. And the SUV didn’t disappoint at all. The low-range gearbox along with a dedicated Rock mode and 4WD Lock helped in putting all the torque to the wheels with immense traction. The Jeep Compass Trailhawk crawled atop the steep, rutty gradient without breaking into a sweat. What also helped its cause is the final drive ratio of 4.334 and a crawl ratio of 20:1 in the 4Low mode, and improved approach (26.5 degrees) and departure (31.6 degrees) angles of the SUV.
The Jeep Compass Trailhawk does live-up to its name. It performed brilliantly in most of the tests and outclassed a couple of them. The low-range gearing, intelligent 4x4 system and the smart electronics all come together to make it a formidable off-road package. If only it had a slightly quicker gearbox and a flat ride quality, it would have been indomitable. So yes, it is a thoroughbred off-roader that can take you to the unbeaten path with ease, and in relative comfort as well.
Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi.
Click on the links below to find out how these SUVs fared in our tests.