The last time I tested the Jeep Compass, I had come away very impressed. It felt like a tank and drove like a sporty hatchback. This was in 2017, and it was the top-end diesel manual 4x4 that I had reviewed. This time, I got my hands on the top-end diesel automatic 4x4, and I was curious to know whether, apart from making it more convenient to drive, the automatic gearbox has affected its "fun-to-drive" quotient or not. Of course, this review will cover all the other usual aspects as well as fuel efficiency, ride quality, comfort, etc.
2020 Jeep Compass Diesel AT 4x4 Review: Design
The Compass still looks like it has been carved out of a solid brick of adamantium, and its 5-star NCAP safety rating backs that belief. Of course, that safety rating takes into account a lot more than the strong build of this Jeep, but you get the point.
It's a handsome looking vehicle that won't look drab even decades down the line. If the Jeep Compass were a human, he would be the sort of chap who's well built, handsome, and exudes a vibe that you can depend on him.
2020 Jeep Compass Diesel AT 4x4 Review: Interior quality and cabin comfort
Step inside and the same no-nonsense aura greets you. There's no clutter and the entire layout has an understated class, which again reiterates that the Compass isn't trying hard to impress. The build quality is excellent, and everything inside feels that it would last forever.
That said, I must mention that I was quite dismayed by the driver's seat bottom plastic panel coming off on the third day of this test. Jeep Compass owners' forums say that they have been facing this issue too. However, they add that Jeep is replacing it in warranty, and for cars out of warranty, the replacement costs just 500 rupees. Still, I don't expect this from a 30-lakh-rupee (on-road, Delhi) vehicle. But I must also mention that my previous test unit didn't have any such issue.
The seats are fantastic and you will love the comfort on long hauls. The air-conditioning is top-notch too, and you would also appreciate how quiet it is. In fact, the entire cabin is devoid of noise and vibrations, which is again something that would be appreciated by people who intend to do a lot of interstate travel in this one.
However, a peculiar thing I noticed on more than one occasion while driving this Compass was that, despite the chilling AC, I could feel the heat, from the top of the windscreen, on my forehead, and, mind you, despite my receding hairline, I am not yet Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) from the Fast and Furious. Also, this was during the terrible Delhi heat in September, and I think this would have gone unchecked had I not driven the Gloster the very next day.
Coincidentally, I was on the same route, at the same time in the afternoon (in fact, the day was hotter by a degree or two), and the Gloster's windscreen didn't let even an ounce of the hellfire outside make its presence felt on my forehead or anywhere else inside the cabin. Taller drivers won't ever notice this small issue, I think, as, unlike me, who has to adjust the seat (electrically adjustable in this variant) all the way forward, they won't be sitting on the dashboard and driving this car. The steering wheel is adjustable for both rake and reach.
2020 Jeep Compass Diesel AT 4x4 Review: Performance, ride and handling
This Compass has the same engine (2.0 L turbo, 170 hp, 350 Nm) as the Compass diesel manual, but instead of the six-speed manual, it gets a nine-speed torque converter. If Vin Diesel were an autobox fan, he would like this unit. In normal auto mode it shifts at about 1,500 rpm while cruising and the shifts are almost seamless—the occupants won't even notice the gear changes.
When you bury the throttle pedal, the gearbox realises your intent and holds each gear till about 4,000 rpm before shifting up. You do have the option of sticking the lever in manual mode, but it's not really required because there's never a dearth of power at any speed. In fact, I did the 0-100 km/h acceleration run in normal mode, which yielded a very satisfying 11.1 s sprint. Overtaking is also a cinch with almost no lag in response.
The Compass still remains a sorted handler with the steering precision being second to none in the segment. However, I felt the body roll to be a smidgeon more as compared to the Compass I drove in 2017. I don't know whether Jeep has played around with the FSD (Frequency Selective Damping)
suspension, but I could notice the difference. It's not much, honestly, but it's there. What corroborates that observation is the fact that this Compass exhibited way more side to side movement going over big undulations at pedestrian speeds. It would help FCA to look into that. Recalibrating the rebound should help. Otherwise, you won't have a single complaint from this vehicle's ride quality.
The brakes are phenomenal and so is the stability while braking from triple digit speeds. The car doesn't wither an inch from its line under emergency braking. Also, for the record, zero from 120 km/h came in just 3.0 seconds!
2020 Jeep Compass Diesel AT 4x4 Review: 4x4 tech
The Compass 4x4 is essentially an AWD (All Wheel Drive)—there's no "2H" mode here to allow you to drive in 2WD (2 Wheel Drive). Jeep refers to their AWD system as Active Drive with Selec-Terrain, which has four modes: Auto, Snow, Sand, and Mud.
You'll keep it in Auto when driving on tarmac (city and highways), and the Jeep will automatically ensure that the wheels with most traction get the most power. That's how it remains in the other three modes too; it's just that the throttle response is altered to the level deemed best by the system for the selected terrain.
There's no low range here, but you won't miss it unless your daily commute involves traversing long stretches of foot-deep mud and slush. Get the Trailhawk, then. I'm told it has a low ratio incorporated into its additional Rock mode.
2020 Jeep Compass Diesel AT 4x4 Review: NVH and fuel efficiency
Like I did touch earlier in the story as well, the NVH (Noise Vibration and Harshness) levels are excellent, and the Compass still has one of the quietest cabins in this segment.
The fuel efficiency isn't shabby either, and you may expect the "average" fuel efficiency figure to hover around 11-12 km/l.
2020 Jeep Compass Diesel AT 4x4 Review: Verdict
Jeep did a disservice to the Compass by launching the lower-specced / 4x2 Compass variants, which, though tremendous value, are not only NOT in line with Jeep's off-road heritage (this is the company that gave the world the best off-roader ever: the Willys MB Jeep), but also, made everyone—masses and auto journalists alike—perceive the top-end 4x4 variants are overpriced. That's why you'll see everyone comparing the Compass to the Tata Harrier, and not to the Range Rover Evoque.
Had Jeep launched the TrailHawk 4x4 and Limited 4x4 models only, then you would've seen people talking on the lines of "the Compass is a fine alternative to the 50-lakh-rupee Evoque, that too at half its price." And that, dear ladies and gentlemen, is the verdict.