Read Caroline’s Jeep Compass review for everything you need to know about Jeep’s mid-size SUV in Ireland.

The Jeep Compass first arrived in Ireland in 2018 as a new mid-size SUV from the iconic Jeep brand. Though Jeep has some very strong roots as an American, four wheel drive specialist brand, the Compass was the brand’s most European model to date when it went on sale. With high demand for family SUVs, today the Compass accounts for over 40% of the brand’s sales in Europe, alongside models like the Renegade and the Cherokee.

The Compass was certainly one of the brand’s most competitive models in recent years, with trendy 4×4 looks and a range of engines to meet the market demand. But 2018 feels like a long time ago now in the motor industry. Much has changed in the intervening years in Ireland and Europe. Jeep is now part of motoring giant Stellantis, and in Ireland it’s joined motoring distributor Gowan Auto, who also import Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Peugeot, DS and Opel.

The Jeep Compass on test for Changing Lanes
The Jeep Compass on test for Changing Lanes

Now the Jeep Compass returns with a bit more than just a cosmetic update. Pricing starts from about €43,995 rising to about €54,995. New engines include a 1.5-litre petrol mild hybrid and a new plug-in hybrid that can be charged and driven electric for up to about 50 kilometres and a first for Jeep. Times are changing, with many more exciting models on the way, like the first ever electric Jeep – the new Jeep Avenger.

But for now, it’s the Jeep Compass that goes up against some of the country’s bestselling cars like the Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4 and the Hyundai Tucson.

What’s so special about the Jeep Compass?

The Compass literally ‘squares up’ to the competition with classic Jeep design cues that lend a rugged look that’s full of character and frankly far more authentic than a lot of what is on the market in this segment. There’s the boxy proportions, reminiscent of many Jeeps of old, that never take the brand too far away from its roots as one of the world’s best manufacturers of tough off-road vehicles.

At the front the seven slat grille is a big statement of intent and makes the Compass unmissable as anything other than just one great big Jeep. Along the side, there are some fabulous squared off wheel arches.

There are up to five trim levels in Ireland and each gives the Compass quite an individual look. Hybrids get a blue finish to the Jeep badge and the new ‘4xe’ logo.

There are few brands quite as iconic as Jeep
There are few brands quite as iconic as Jeep

The entry into the range is the Night Eagle for example, which adds lots of gloss black trim to the exterior and 18-inch black wheels for a cool urban look. The Upland has bronze exterior trim and a black bonnet decal for a bespoke look. There’s even a range-topping Trailhawk version, which maxes out the tough off-road look with special off-road bumpers and skid plate front and rear.

On test for Changing Lanes was the Compass S, which offers a clean, sporty look with 19-inch black alloy wheels, body coloured wheel arches and sills, and a black contrast roof.

Plug-in hybrid models are now exclusively four wheel drive, with a 1.3-litre petrol engine to power the front wheels and an electric motor to power the rear ones. It’s the most powerful of the range with 240hp and includes a number of tools to assist drivers off-road. You can switch between modes like Auto, Sport, Sand/Mud and Snow and the car adjusts the settings for the best traction. There are also two different 4×4 traction modes for more advanced off-roading – 4WD Drive Lock and 4WD Low.

Inside the Jeep Compass

Having previously tested the Compass when it first arrived in 2018, it’s clear that the interior has had a modern revamp since then. The quality of the materials has improved significantly with lots of soft touch materials as well as more modern digital features and more mature design. S models get leather upholstery for a high-end feel.

It’s still not quite as stylish or high-tech as some of the best in class but a marked improvement. A new 10-inch touchscreen sits in the centre of the dash, with Apple Car Play and Android Auto integration. There’s also a new digital driver information display, though it’s not the best designed when it comes to the size of the graphics and the way information is presented.

Latest Compass gets a high-end feel to the interior
Latest Compass gets a high-end feel to the interior

But all versions do come well-equipped with keyless start, parking camera, cruise control, climate control, and lots of safety features like lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition. A wireless smartphone charger is also standard on all but the entry model.

Slip into the back and the Compass feels spacious for its size too. There are large footwells and headroom is good for adults. Like competitors, the middle seat is a bit on the small side but it is comfortable with a flat space in front for more legroom.

The boot is not the largest in the class at 438 litres but it’s a bit more than a lot of hatchbacks. And the plug-in hybrid has the same amount of boot space as petrol versions of the Compass. A powered tailgate is also available on some trim levels as standard.

Driving the Jeep Compass

Jeep hasn’t tweaked the driving dynamics for this version but they have updated the engine range. It kicks off with the 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine with 130hp and a manual gearbox priced from €43,995. There’s also the new 1.5-litre petrol mild hybrid that’s priced similarly and has the same amount of power but comes with an automatic gearbox instead.

On test was the new plug-in hybrid, which offers the boon of four wheel drive but must be charged regularly to really get the best from it. When the battery is fully charged, there is up to 50 kilometres of driving electric possible but that is still off the pace of some of the best like the Toyota RAV4 and the Kia Sportage plug-in hybrids.

Trailhawk versions max out on the tough off-road look
Trailhawk versions max out on the tough off-road look

On the road, the Compass is swift when you want it to be, but it’s not the smoothest or most refined plug-in hybrid available and it can get noisy when you accelerate hard.

Steering is very light, which makes it easy to manouvre around town but out on bigger roads it won’t really award the keenest driver. In fairness, as a brand with such a stellar name for making off-road vehicles, sharp handling would not be high up the list of priorities. The Compass suits a more relaxed pace of driving and it’s comfortable too for a family SUV.

Did you like it?

The Jeep brand is iconic and the Compass is surely something different in its segment. It does fall a little short of the best in class in some areas. The standard in this segment is very high these days with lots of very capable competitors.

Good news is none of them can compete with the Compass for outright authentic style and desirability. The Compass truly stands out for its classic Jeep styling that looks like it might enjoy going off-road and look good while doing it.

Jeep has always been positioned as a high-end brand and the pricing of the Compass surely reflects that. It might be a bridge too far, but if you’re looking for something a little bit different in the mid-size family SUV segment, the Jeep Compass still has plenty of charm.

The Jeep Compass 4xe plug-in hybrid is on sale now
The Jeep Compass 4xe plug-in hybrid is on sale now

Model tested: Jeep Compass S 4xe plug-in hybrid
1.3-litre petrol electric plug-in hybrid
Power: 240hp
Top speed: 200 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 7.3 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year


Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year