2018 Jeep Compass Range Review

By David Bonnici and WhichCar Staff

2018 Jeep Compass

Priced From $28,850Information

Overall Rating


4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

3 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

5 out of 5 stars


4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProStyling, ride and handling, off-road capability

  2. ConOption-only active safety, towing capacity, lacklustre petrol engine

  3. The Pick: 2020 Jeep Compass Trailhawk (4x4 LOW) 4D Wagon

What stands out about the Jeep Compass?

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The second-generation Compass gains a more attractive, rugged look, improved build quality and a gutsy new turbo diesel engine, while the 4WD Compass Trailhawk brings genuine off-road capability. It is such an improvement over the previous model that Jeep reckons it will probably outsell the popular Cherokee in Australia.

What might bug me?

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Admitting that you can’t take your Jeep off-road – unless you have bought the most expensive versions of the Compass, the Limited and Trailhawk.

Not being able to tow anything if you have a petrol, front-wheel-drive Compass.

Forgoing active safety features such as automatic emergency braking because they’re part of a pricey option pack that’s only available with the Limited and Trailhawk.

What body styles are there?

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A five-door SUV is the only body style. Most Compasses drive only their front wheels, but the Limited and Trailhawk drives all four wheels. The Jeep Compass is classified as a small SUV, lower priced.

What features do all Compass versions have?

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Touchscreen for rear-view camera and infotainment, which includes AM/FM and digital (DAB+) radio, Bluetooth- or AUX and USB-connected mobile phone functions.

Voice control for the audio system, and at least six speakers.

Power outlets (12V) on the centre console and in the boot, and additional USB port at rear of centre console.

Leather wrapped steering wheel.

Keyless entry, power folding side mirrors

Height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel, from which you can also operate the cruise control.

Cruise control with speed limiter


A parking brake that is operated by an electric switch rather than a mechanical lever.

LED daytime running lights

Wheels made from aluminium alloy, and a full-sized 17-inch steel rimmed spare tyre.

Electronic traction control, which helps prevent wheelspin on slippery roads, and trailer sway control helps maintain stability while towing.

Seven airbags, and electronic stability control. (For the placement of airbags, and more on the Renegade’s safety systems, please open the Safety section below.)

The Jeep Compass has a five-year, 100,000km warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The Compass comes with a choice of two engines, including the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder ‘Multijet’ diesel that sips fuel at a rate of 5.7 litres/100km according to official testing which takes in to account urban and highway driving.

It is considerably more economical, and has more get up and go, than the 2.4-litre four-cylinder ‘Tigershark’ petrol engine, which consumes 7.9 litres/100km in front-wheel-drive models, and a greedy 9.7litres/100km in the all-wheel-drive Limited.

While the 2.4-litre petrol is at best adequate and shows its shortcomings when overtaking or climbing hills, the 2.0-litre diesel, with its 350Nm of torque, is the perfect match. The main reason why you may not choose the diesel is because you want a more affordable Compass Sport or Longitude, which only come with the petrol engine.

The diesel engine is coupled with a nine-speed automatic transmission, while the petrol comes with a six-speed auto. A six-speed manual is available with the cheapest Compass, the Sport.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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Prices start with the Sport manual, which has cloth-covered seats, a 5.0-inch touchscreen, 17-inch aluminium alloy wheels, six-speaker sound system, and the 2.4-litre petrol engine with front-wheel-drive. Spend more on a Sport and you can have the six-speed automatic gearbox.

Walk past the Sport to the more costly Longitude, and you keep the 2.4-litre petrol with the automatic gearbox. You also get electric lumbar adjustment for the driver’s seat, and fold forward front passenger seat with storage under the seat cushion.

You also get a leather wrapped gear shift and LED ambient lighting.

Headlights switch on automatically when it gets dark, there are front fog-lights, lights that shine into corners when you indicate, and wipers operate automatically when it rains.

Roof rails, to help carry additional cargo on top of your Compass.

Deep tinted privacy glass which stops people seeing in and helps insulate the cabin on a sunny day.

A Premium Audio Package is available for the Compass Longitude at extra cost, and adds a bigger 8.4-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and dual zone climate control, which allows the driver and front passenger to set their own air-conditioning or heating settings.

Spend more again for an all-wheel-drive Compass Limited and gain the features in the Premium Audio package, including the 8.5-inch touchscreen, as standard.

You also get leather seats and the sound system is better with a further three speakers, making it nine including a subwoofer. Headlights are brighter, bi-xenon, units, and there are front and rear parking sensors (which help you judge how close you are to obstacles), and Park Assist which reverses into a parallel or perpendicular parking spaces for you.

Standard features unique to the Limited include bigger 18-inch alloy wheels, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, push button start, passive entry, and ‘Keyless Go’, which lets unlock the car and drive away without taking the proximity key from your pocket or bag. The front seats have heating and eight-way power-adjustment for the driver and four-way for the front passenger.

The all-wheel-drive system includes a terrain traction management system, which lets you select different driving modes for driving on sand, mud and snow.

The Limited comes standard with the 2.4-litre petrol engine and six-speed auto, with the 2.0-litre diesel and nine-speed auto powertrain costing an additional $2500 – which we reckon is worth the extra cost.

Choosing a Limited also allows you to add, at extra cost, active driver aids from the Advanced Technology Group pack. These include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, a lane departure warning, blind-spot detection, and rear cross-path detection (for more on these features, please open the Safety section below). It also includes auto-high-beam, and adaptive cruise control.

Other options for the Limited include two-tone black roof and dual pane sunroof.

While the Limited has a luxury focus, the most expensive Compass is the off-road oriented Trailhawk. The Trailhawk matches the Limited for most appointments (seat material is cloth, with leather optional), but comes with the 2.0-litre diesel engine nine-speed auto gearbox as standard.

The Trailhawk also rides higher, so that it can clear obstacles more easily, and has different front and rear body mouldings that do not extend as far past the wheels, which helps when nudging up to and driving off obstacles. Steel plates under the body protect the engine, fuel tank and other vitals from off-road damage. Wheel size shrinks back to 17 inches, with tyres are designed for off-road use.

The Trailhawk also comes with hill-descent control to help with tricky off-road slopes, red recovery hooks, anti-glare hood decal and all-weather floor mats.

For extra cost you can include some of the features that are only standard to the Limited, including leather seats, powered and heated front seats, push button start, passive entry and Keyless Go.

The Advanced Technology Group package can also be added to the Trailhawk, as can the dual-pane sunroof.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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Paying more than $40,000 for a Limited or Trailhawk, but still having to pay around $2500 to get active safety features which are standard on cheaper rivals.

Only red paint comes at no additional cost.

How comfortable is it?

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The Compass feels roomy for a small SUV, and its styling looks like a smaller version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Our reviewers are yet to drive the front-wheel-drive Sport or Longitude, but the AWD versions strike a nice balance between on and off-road motoring. Ride quality is excellent and the Compass is even fun in the corners.

Better seat ergonomics would improve all-round comfort particularly in the Trailhawk. Rear seat comfort is better with generous space for adults.

The Uconnect system, though, with satellite navigation, CarPlay and Android Auto where fitted, is agreeably seamless.

What about safety?

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Our main criticism of the Compass regards active safety equipment, which is only available in the higher-grade Limited and Trailhawk, and only then as an additional-cost option (see below).

The Compass has seven airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect the upper body; curtain airbags down each side of the car to protect the heads of those sitting next to a window; and an airbag to protect the driver’s knees and legs.

All Compasses also have a reversing camera, and electronic stability control. The latter can help you bring a skidding car back under control, and is mandatory on all new cars.

All Compasses have LED daytime running lights, which help make sure you are visible to other drivers.

No Compass has autonomous emergency braking as standard. However, you can option it at extra cost, along with other driver aids, on the Compass Limited and Trailhawk, as part of the Advanced Technology Group pack. These include Forward Collision Warning Plus, which reads the road ahead with radar and video sensors. If the system concludes you are closing too fast on a vehicle or other large obstacle ahead, it will supply a warning. If you ignore the warning it will apply the brakes automatically.

The package also includes, lane departure warning, which is designed to prevent you drifting distractedly – or sleepily – out of your lane on the highway. If it senses that you are about to leave your lane without indicating, it will apply a gentle steering correction that alerts you, while helping to bring the car back between the lines.

Then there’s blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. The former alerts you to vehicles travelling near your rear corners, which might not show in your mirrors. The latter helps when you are reversing, perhaps from a driveway or shopping centre car park and alerts you to cars approaching from either side. Adaptive cruise control, which will match your speed to that of slower cars ahead on the highway, returning to your pre-set speed when the way is clear, is also included.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has rated the 2018 Compass at five stars for safety, its maximum, in December 2017.

How is life in the rear seats?

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The rear seats in Jeep Compass offer lots of head room and leg room. Rear-seat passengers get their own air/heating vents and a USB port plus the usual seat back pockets, fold out arm rest and bottle holders in the doors.

How is it for carrying stuff?

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The Compass has a 438-litre boot space, which is about average for a small-SUV like this. The back seat folds 60/40 and reasonably flat, to lengthen the luggage space if need be.

The Compass’s towing capacity is disappointing. Towing is not recommended at all for the front wheel-drive, petrol Sport, Longitude and Limited models, while the Limited AWD tows up to 1000kg and the Trailhawk 1500kg.

Where is it the Jeep Compass made?

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All Australian-delivered Compasses are built in India.

Are there any rivals I should consider?

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There are plenty of small-SUVs, but the Compass is one of the few with versions that have genuine off-road capability. Alternatives include the Compass’ smaller sibling the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk or the medium-sized Nissan X-Trail AWD and Subaru Forester.

If off-road capability isn’t a priority other small or medium SUVs to consider include the Honda HR-V, Subaru XV, and other Jeep Renegade models. You can also look at similarly priced mid-sized SUVs including the Holden Equinox, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, and Toyota RAV4.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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The diesel AWD models are superior to the front-drive petrol versions in almost every way. If you can afford it, go the whole hog with the Trailhawk which really lives up to Jeep’s go-anywhere spirit, while showing good road manners. That said the Limited is no slouch off-road either and has some nice creature comforts as standard.

Are there plans to update the Compass soon?

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The current-generation Jeep Compass arrived in late 2017, with no updates expected until at least 2020.