2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk quick review

The first truly off-road capable Jeep Compass is also a fun car to drive around town

New Jeep Compass Trailhawk 2 Copy JPG


The Trailhawk tops the second-generation Jeep Compass range, which is vastly improved over the previous Compass. Trailhawk is the only variant with genuine off-road capability and, while it lives up to Jeep’s go-anywhere spirit, it also shows pretty good road manners.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk

The standard Trailhawk retails for $44,750, though the vehicle we tested cost $48,195 with the addition of premium paint ($595) and of the Comfort and Convenience pack ($2850), which brings creature comforts such as a powered tailgate, leather upholstery, heated front seats and keyless entry/start.


  • The Trailhawk is one of the few small-SUVs with genuine off-road capability.
  • It has similar off-road credentials as the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, helped by the gutsy 125kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine that drives all-four wheels with high and low range gears. Several terrain modes are available, as is hill-descent control. Four underbody skid plates offer protection, while approach and departure angles of 30.3- and 33.6-degrees respectively are good for tackling the rough stuff.
Jeep Compass 4WD selector
  • Trailhawk drives well on-road, too. Ride and handling isn’t compromised too much by its off-road capable underpinnings, and once going the 2.0-litre turbo diesel pulls along well, with the nine-speed auto providing smooth shifts.
  • The U-Connect infotainment system is easy to use and operated via an 8.4-inch touchscreen with Apple and Android smartphone pairing, digital radio, satellite navigation, reversing camera and nine-speaker sound system.
  • Steering wheel-mounted buttons are well positioned and intuitive to use.
  • Other standard features include auto LED headlights, daytime running lights, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, auto headlights, active cruise control and trailer stability control.
  • Combined fuel economy is rated at a frugal 5.7L/100km, though we averaged a still respectable 6.3L/100km with a mix of urban, freeway and country driving.
Jeep Compass Trailhawk interior
  • The front and back seats are comfortable and roomy with plenty of leg- and head-room in both rows. Rear-seat passengers get their own air vents, a USB port and 12v socket.
  • The cargo area holds a generous 438 litres up to the window line, meaning you can pile quite a bit of gear in the back for camping trips.   
  • It looks like a Jeep should.


  • Even though this is the range-topping Compass model, you still have to pay almost $2500 for active safety features that are standard kit in cheaper SUVs, such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning.
  • The front and rear parking sensors are a little over zealous and start beeping even when driving alongside other vehicles on the freeway. Fortunately, there’s a switch to turn it off, but you then have to remember to turn it back on for when you really need it.
  • Turbo lag is a fairly pronounced when taking off from a standstill, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence at busy roundabouts. It’s much less of an issue once you get going.


Other off-road capable SUVs of a similar size include the Suzuki Jimny and Grand Vitara as well as Jeep’s own Wrangler. If you’re not too fussed about off-road capability check out the Jeep Compass Limited ($41,250), which is more city-focused and luxuriously appointed.



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