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Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

What is it?

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

Why will I buy it?

Easy-to-drive automatic, off-road capability, high quality cabin

Why will I avoid it?

Missing new-age features, sparse dealer network

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

What is it?

Featuring off-road focused upgrades, this is the Trailhawk version of Jeep’s entry-level Compass SUV. And as they say, this one is pure adventure on the outside and absolute luxury inside. Something that Jeep fans probably wanted. Striking visual updates include a two-tone exterior with a black roof, new badges (Trail Rated 4x4, Trailhawk) and new 17-inch five-spoke alloys. A closer examination reveals a gun-metal finish on the badges (Jeep, Compass, 4×4), front grille, fog lamp outer bezels and the lower fascia applique. Apart from these minor cosmetic updates, there are purposeful updates like an increased 205mm ground clearance, an anti-glare hood decal, underbody protection and a rear tow hook with 1.5x towing capability. Furthermore, it comes with a lot of firsts for the model too. For example, a BSVI-compliant 2.0-litre diesel engine, an automatic gearbox for a diesel, a low range for the 4X4 system and a new rock mode on the off-road mode selector. Sounds like an interesting recipe? Let’s find out how the product is then.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

How is it on the inside?

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

Interior updates are limited and no changes have been made to the layout. And that's not bad news, as the Compass anyway has a nicely put together cabin. The beige upholstery is now all-black but it still has an an upmarket vibe to it, primarily due to the soft-touch materials. Although the driver seat isn't electrically powered, the front seats are comfortable. Rear seats have a slightly reclined posture and provide adequate support that should be appreciated by most users. Contrast red stitching gives it a special touch and the huge dual pane panoramic sun-roof helps elevate the sense of space inside. Boot space remains on the generous side.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

Features-wise, the Trailhawk misses auto-headlamps and wipers, but is equipped with bi-xenon projectors, cornering lamps, keyless go etc. from the Limited Plus. The biggest updates, however, include a crisp 7.0-inch full colour MID and an 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system with GPS navigation. It's intuitive and responds well. And then, besides the safety package of six airbags, ABS, EBD, traction control, parking assist with rear camera and electronic parking brake, there are also new features unique to the Trailhawk like cruise control, speed-limiter, hill-start assist and hill descent control.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

How does it drive?

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

Powering the Compass is the same 170bhp 1,956cc Multijet-II turbo-diesel engine, but it is BSVI-compliant now. And although this is the same powerplant, it has been recalibrated. They have reduced the combustion noise, smoothened the initial torque curve from 0-1,750rpm and a full 350Nm of torque is available from 1,750-2,500rpm. It's great off-road, which we got to check it out for ourselves and we will talk about that a little later. But it´s no slouch on-road either with the new nine-speed transmission and the gas pedal calibration that has been changed. So on the road, it feels very relaxing, uses the torque and shifts early. But then, the punchy feel from the manual trim is lost and the sprightly performance has been toned down. The engine is fairly audible post 3,000-3,500rpm, but there's no point in shifting higher up the rev band with such a strong mid-range. Yes, it does rev till 4,500rpm, but even when you back off, it manages to make good progress with momentum. And it’s a lot smoother without having to keep the engine at boil. This should help create a good balance of performance and lower fuel consumption. That we shall ascertain in our road test later.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

A little more on what’s new – the nine-speed torque converter automatic transmission. This ZF autobox is very compact and packaged nicely especially if you think about nine gears being fitted in the space for six. This means shortened shifts and reaction times with the ease of shifting. One can shift manually by opting from the shift cog, but you don't get paddle-shifters. However, one doesn't feel the need as the gear shifts feel smooth although with a bit of delay and induces a slight head nod. The steering too has been tuned to Indian driving conditions to offer the right balance of good off-centre feel and a lesser amount of effort to manoeuvre the vehicle, latter of which we mostly experienced off-road. It still doesn't feel loose and weighs up nicely at high speeds.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

Now, a Trail Rated badge means business as Jeep believes that it's not given but earned. This is an assurance of Trailhawk's ultimate 4x4 capability tested on parameters of traction, water fording (483mm), manoeuvrability, articulation (ramp travel index 321) and ground clearance. We were given a first-hand experience of all of this, which felt relatively easy thanks to the Trailhawk. There's no limited slip differential, but this Compass use electronics. Also, the Jeep Active Drive System with the help of the Power Transfer Unit ensures that both front and rear axles are moving at the same speed. Now with that thing sorted, Jeep has exclusively provided the Trailhawk with Jeep Active Drive Low. This means one has a selectable low range via a final drive ratio of 4.334 and a crawl ratio of 20:1. In simpler words, a copious amount of torque is supplied for enhanced climbing abilities in the rocky sections and challenging terrains.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

Apart from the auto, snow, sand and mud drive modes that control the amount of wheel-spin, the Trailhawk gets a rock mode. Mostly used during off-roading, be it the ditches, river-crossings or even deep ruts, we were not just pushing the car forward but up the slopes as well. We even drove over rocks. This is when we want the maximum amount of torque that can be had onto the rear axle. Paired along with the low range and 4WD lock, the Trailhawk did this effortlessly. Needless to say, a better approach (26.5 degree), departure (31.6 degrees) and breakover angles (21.2 degrees) helped get out of sticky situations unscathed. And finally there's hill descent control too that manages constant throttle and braking without any driver input. Upon its activation, the vehicle could sense that it’s going down a slope and actuated the brakes automatically. We only had to steer the way down.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

The all-independent suspension setup and the high tech dampers have resulted in a plush ride. Koni’s FSD (frequency selective damping) is used, which is a little more expensive than conventional ones but they do provide a big benefit. It's vital how quickly that the wheel comes down and stays on the ground. And so, instead of just using the valve body for the rebound damping, Jeep has channels to allow to drop the wheel down rapidly. Faster wheel down means the vehicle also catches its grip quickly. Generally the downside of this is that if it instantly comes down the travel, there will be a clunking noise. However, Jeep has damped the last bit of travel with a hydraulic rebound stop. So even out on the road, going over a speed breaker or coming out of a pothole, there isn't any clunking noise but just a wuff. And it’s supple off-road, so the side-to-side movement is evident but not very dramatic.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

Still, this suspension has been tuned to provide a flat ride and straight-line stability too is excellent. We would have loved it if the brakes had a little more bite, nevertheless the dual-purpose tyres shod with Falken all-terrain rubber were a surprise. They did squeal while taking corners, but still provided enough grip to traverse any terrain confidently.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

Should I buy one?

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

The regular 4x4 version of the Compass was an exceptional off-roader for a road-biased SUV. Now, with the Trailhawk, Jeep has pushed their boundaries and created something extra-ordinary, especially for an absolute off-roader like this. It does miss out on some features that the Limited Plus trim has. However, it’s still packed with many comfort features, is easy to drive and even provides many active and passive safety systems. This is along with an off road set-up to go on any off-road adventure and return safely. All in all, the TrailHawk is a true-blue off-roader packed with luxury, comfort and convenience features that can double up as your daily driver. Not hard to suggest it really.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

Where does it fit in?

Prices are yet to be announced and we can expect it to carry a price tag of around Rs 25-30 lakhs. It might go up against diesel automatic SUVs like the Hyundai Tucson, Honda CR-V, Isuzu MU-X, Mahindra XUV 500 and even the Volkswagen Tiguan in the Indian market.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk First Drive Review

Pictures by Kapil Angane

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Jeep Compass Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Bangalore₹ 19.52 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 18.18 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 17.48 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 18.92 Lakhs onwards
Mumbai₹ 18.45 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 18.76 Lakhs onwards
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