Jeep Compass heading the right way

By Peta Lee Time of article published Jan 18, 2012

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More and more women are driving Jeeps these days, for several reasons. The old jokes about why Jeeps are better than men - if your Jeep's too small you can always make it bigger, and you never have to spend time with your Jeep's mother - definitely ring true, but there're also several other excellent reasons.

They look good, they're beautifully finished, they perform well, and most of them are a pleasure to drive, particularly the latest head-turning Jeep Compass SUV.

Diehard Jeep fans (and opinions out there seem to be split between those who love the brand and those who loathe it) might well consider the Compass a wuss version of the original prototype.

But for those who respect the Jeep DNA, and who have softer needs and wants than your typical rugged bush-bandit, there's nothing much wrong with it at all.

OK, parked next to a big black butch Wrangler at the car wash, the Compass looked a bit soft; however, for lift club moms, families, those who hanker after a good looking all rounder, it's a very appealing option.

The current model is way better than the very first version introduced a good few years back. It was and is based on the (dodgy) Dodge Caliber, but has been redesigned with enhanced and improved features and finishes.

Stylish and well-finished (Euro-style textures, soft touch door panels and padded armrests as well as revised upholstery), the Compass is also incredibly spacious and comfortably seats five passengers.

The seating is fantastically versatile, with the fold flat 60/40 split rear seats: also, the front passenger seat folds forwards to create a kind of table for added versatility or for loading that surfboard on a good day.

I was piloting the 2.4 Limited edition (125kW at 6000 and 220Nm at 4500rpm), and was impressed with its excellent ground clearance (more than 200mm) and its markedly improved ride quality and suspension. Steering was reassuringly precise and noise levels muted.

The manufacturer says the unique shock tuning and high strength steel springs provide excellent handling on mountain switchbacks and when it comes to evasive manoeuvres. Sadly I never got to sample any mountainous terrain that put it to the full test, but on the few offroad tracks along which we ventured, we barely felt a bump. Braking is also excellent, thanks to the four-wheel disc antilock system, which includes brake assist, and the all-speed traction control.

The Compass, and in fact all Jeep kith and kin in the showroom, is aeons removed from old Granddad Willys built way back in the dark ages in 1939, but there's no doubt that the inimitable legacy continues.

Although you don't expect the Compass, or in fact any 21st century Jeep, to perform the same functions for which it was designed in the old days (build bridges and roads behind fighting lines, pull other vehicles out of the mud, dodge snipers and trudge through rice paddies), I have no doubt it would be just as capable repeating those manoeuvres today

And let's not forget than unlike a man, even small Jeeps give satisfaction, AND they can go for hours on end...

* Jeep Compass starts from R274 990.

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