Barrelling down the motorway at 70 mph is never fun. With two small children in the back of the car, it can be downright scary. But in the new Jeep Compass SUV that we had on loan for a week, the journey up the A14 and A1, from London to Harrogate, felt a lot less fraught. If it wasn’t for the unavoidable queues, it would have been downright pleasant.
And after D and I took the car across to Manchester for a party with old friends, and then back down to London, where I’ve been driving the children to their after-school clubs, something has happened which I never felt possible. I’ve grown to love a car. The review loan people are due to collect the Jeep Compass any minute now. And I do NOT want to give it back.
Easy to drive
The Compass is a mid-sized, family-friendly SUV, with four-wheel drive capability. Ours had a 2.0 litre diesel engine. Petrol versions are available, too. It looked good on our London street. Not as large as some of the monstrous SUVs you see on the school run, but reassuringly large and sturdy. Ours sat on all-weather tyres and 19″ alloy wheels. The sunroof was enormous, stretching all the way back to the rear seats, and the rear windows were darkened, which the children were surprisingly excited about. There were a lot of squeals when they first sat in the car.
The Compass has a ‘Entry ‘n Go’ system. The central locking works via a remote key, and you don’t need to put the key into the ignition. Just so long as it’s somewhere on your person, the car will start when you press the stop/start button and put your foot on the brake. Reversing into and out of tight London parking spaces was a lot easier because of the car’s ParkView™ rear back-up camera, with lines showing whether objects behind you were green, amber or red (too close). The collision warnings at the front and sides of the car meant you could move the car close to other vehicles, but do it safely. So no more embarrassing 20-point parking maneuvres for me!
Safety on the motorway
The new Jeep Compass won five stars in the 2017 EURO NCAP safety test. I can see why. Our journey up the A14 and A1 motorways was one with lashing rain, and lorries belting past us, showering spray all over the car. But we were cosy inside the car, on comfortable leather seats, with six airbags tucked away, just in case. Driving felt, smooth, and easy; the car was a nine-speed automatic, and it accelerated quickly when we needed it to. A little triangle on the wing mirrors lit up whenever there was a vehicle in the car’s blind spot, and an alarm sounded if we indicated to pull out when a car was next to us. On the instrument cluster, where the speedometer and petrol gauge sat, a little alert showed when the car drifted away from the centre of the lane. The headlights and windscreen wipers came on automatically if you switched them to auto. It felt as though the car was doing a lot of the thinking for us, which helped take away some of the pressure on the long journey.
Sound system and media hookup
The sound quality in the Jeep was excellent, with a nine-speaker HiFi that could be adjusted to turn the volume up or down in different areas of the car. Phones were connected to the system via USB cable or Bluetooth, and a Uconnect™ system let the driver make handsfree phone calls or texts. We didn’t try that out, but we did make full use of Apple CarPlay – listening to podcasts dowloaded to our phones – and the built-in DAB radio. The system allowed you to connect to Google Maps, but we used the in built SatNav. It didn’t display your speed unless you were travelling too fast (as you can see we were in the picture below. At which point we slowed down, quickly!).
The media, SatNav and car temperature were all controlled through this touchscreen. We could have played with it for hours. If drivers found it distracting, though, they could turn the screen off, and control the temperature and radio volume using knobs instead.
Comfortable and spacious
Did I mention the Compass was comfortable? On a long road trip with kids, this is one of our main criteria for a good family car. There was bags of space inside, with arm rests in between the two front seats. The children had enough room to loll around with their colouring books, toys and gadgets in the back. Two USB ports were within easy reach, for charging devices.
Cup holders were moulded into all the doors, front and back. As well as the cup holders, there was enough extra space in each door cavity for a couple of books. The only slight drawback was the storage space in the boot. Although at 438 litres it’s well above average, we go on a lot of long road trips across Europe, and we’re used to driving a car with an enormous boot. For our family and all its gubbins, we’d definitely need a roof rack too.
As I mentioned, I’ll find it difficult to hand back the keys of our Jeep Compass. The snazzy audio system and comfortable seats, with plenty of legroom, made the drive feel more luxurious than usual. And the car’s safety features took away some of the stress of transporting young children on a long journey. It was relatively economical, too, at 49.6 miles per gallon. This car was nigh-on perfect for our family, especially as we regularly travel to our family cottage in the Galloway Forest, where it’s handy to have a four-wheel drive vehicle.
We were loaned a Jeep Compass for a week. All views are my own. For more information, see the Jeep Compass website.
We’ve tested out other spacious family cars, if you’d like to have a read: