[Behind the Wheel] New Jeep Compass apt for adventurous off-road driving

By Kim Bo-gyung
  • Published : Jul 22, 2018 - 15:32
  • Updated : Jul 22, 2018 - 17:36

PAJU, Gyeonggi Province -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Korea has its sights set on the sport utility vehicle market here, revamping its showrooms to be Jeep-exclusive by next year and completing the lineup with the first fully changed Compass compact SUV released in 10 years.

As a model positioned between the Renegade small SUV and Cherokee midsize SUV, the new Compass targets “urban adventurers” looking for a vehicle suitable for the city and rough off-road terrain.

On the SUV brand’s unique four-wheel drive system and the segment’s first nine-speed automatic transmission, the new Compass powered up and down curvy mountains and an off-road course during a 90-kilometer test drive running from Paju Book City, Gyeonggi Province, to a meteorological station in Paju.

The New Jeep Compass is test driven off the road in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, last week. (FCA Korea)

The new Compass showed stellar stability when shifting from a standstill to acceleration on hilly roads, braking and powering through winding mountains backed by the Jeep Active Drive, made to distribute maximum torque between four-wheel drive and brake-slipping wheels.

Powered by a 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir 2 gasoline engine, the SUV produces up to 175 horsepower and 23.4 kilogram-meters of torque.

Designed to go anywhere, the Selec-Terrain feature helped the all-wheel drive traverse sands, mud, gravel, rocks and rugged terrain while shifting to front-wheel drive when necessary.

Drivers can set the Selec-Terrain feature in four modes: automatic, snow, sand or mud.

The New Jeep Compass is test driven off the road in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, last week. (FCA Korea)

A shortcoming was its weak acceleration on highways, the engine had to work quite hard to get past 80 kilometers per hour -- not ideal when most highways have a 100-kph speed limit.

The new Compass also lacks advanced driving assistance systems compared to rival offerings, such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist equipped as standard features in most new vehicles.

In terms of exterior design, Jeep designers blended a stylish modern look with signature Jeep design to the new Compass. It carries the traditional seven-slot grille alongside square wheel arches, while the black grille and dual-tone black roof accentuates the aggressive and dynamic look.

The New Jeep Compass is test driven on an uphill course in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, last week. (FCA Korea)

The 39.9 million won ($35,400) Compass Longitude trim and 43.4 million won Limited model will be released here, followed by other models.

The Korea Herald rating (out of 5 stars):
Design: 4 stars
Safety: 4 stars
Gas Mileage: 4 stars
Price: 4 stars
Overall: 16/20

By Kim Bo-gyung (