Jeep Compass 4x2 AT review: Doubling down

    In an attempt to appeal to a wider customer base, Jeep has just launched the Compass 2WD diesel with an automatic transmission. We test it out.

    Published on Sep 20, 2023 03:00:00 PM

    30,459 Views

    Make : Jeep
    Model : Compass
    We Like
    • Excellent ride and handling
    • Feels tough
    We Don't Like
    • Still very expensive
    • Lacks road presence of rivals

    Jeep has built its reputation around its off-road capability, and true to its DNA, every Jeep comes with a 4x4 option. However, does every Jeep owner in India desire the capability to conquer cliffs and ford rivers?  Not quite. That’s why Jeep has a 4x2 option for those who want the Jeep cred but without venturing far from paved roads, and without the added cost. But, in what can be best termed as a product planning goof-up, Jeep axed the Compass 1.4 turbo-petrol 4x2 auto, leaving the pricier 4x4 diesel as the sole automatic offering in the Compass range.

    Jeep Compass 2WD diesel AT: prices; tweaked design

    While a Compass 4x2 still exists, it's only available with a diesel manual transmission. The market is shifting towards automatic (and petrol power, but that's another story) and customers aren't thrilled about paying for 4x4 hardware just to enjoy the convenience of two-pedal driving. Which is why Compass sales have fallen off the same cliff it has been designed to clamber up.

    Enter the Compass 4x2 diesel auto – priced at a competitive Rs 23.99 lakh for the Longitude variant, it's a good Rs 5.85 lakh cheaper than the 4x4 diesel auto. The Compass Longitude O2 4x2, which gets a sunroof and wireless charging, costs Rs 26.49 lakh; this is still substantially cheaper than the equivalent 4x4.

    With the 4x2 diesel auto, Jeep has also given a teeny refresh to the Compass by way of newer colours and fabric. You get a refreshed grille design and new-look alloy wheels, and the Black Shark edition looks particularly good with all-black highlights and some red bits on the inside.

    The Compass wasn’t the most spacious vehicle when it was launched in 2017 and with so many contenders in the midsize SUV segment, the rear seat is small by class standards. The boot is fairly spacious as far as Rs 25 lakh SUVs go.

    Jeep Compass 2WD diesel AT: engine, ride and handling

    Except for the removal of the 4x4 drivetrain, which makes the Compass diesel 4x2 auto a front-wheel-drive car, there is no real change. Because of the fewer drivetrain components that reduce mechanical resistance and weight, the 4x2 auto is significantly more fuel efficient, giving 16.2kpl on the city cycle compared to the 4x4 auto’s 15.3kpl. It feels a bit quicker too, but we’ll have to wait to see how it performs with our timing gear strapped on.

    For all practical purposes, the 4x2 drives similarly to the 4x4 and, in fact, on Jeep India’s off-road track in the Ranjangaon factory where the Compass is made, it could do things like climb steps, race up steep dirt tracks and waddle through axle twister tracks with one wheel dramatically in the air, without a fuss.

    The 170hp, 2.0-litre Fiat diesel has a good low-end grunt, which fits the Compass’ rugged character well. It pulls strongly from low speeds and the broad torque spread gives a nice, linear tug that propels the Compass confidently. The 9-speed gearshift is smooth but quite lazy to shift and takes its time swapping cogs. It’s a gearbox more suited for a slow-speed trail than a quick overtake on the highway.

    The Compass is known for its all-conquering ride quality, which we are happily reacquainted with. The worse the road, the better the ride gets is the Compass dictum. It can coast over horrendous surfaces that would make you wince in other Rs 25 lakh SUVs, and the generous wheel travel, well-judged damping (a bit on the firm side), and light and precise steering still make the Compass the best SUV to drive on bad roads. At slow speeds, the ride feels a bit stiff and lumpy, which is a trade-off you have to accept for the all-conquering feel the Compass gives you on any road.

    Jeep Compass 2WD diesel AT: verdict

    Jeep calls this the new Compass, which it isn’t really. It’s not even a facelift actually, but the revised prices and a few cosmetic touches will certainly find appeal with a wider audience. What the Compass marks, however, is a new beginning for Jeep and a new leadership that is determined to turn around the brand. Just how that can be done remains to be seen, but small steps like the Compass 4x2 diesel auto and a price cut on the 4x2 diesel manual (now Rs 20.49 lakh) are promising signs of a company broadening its appeal to a wider customer base.

    Tech Specs

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