Jeep is an iconic brand founded in the 1940s and once marketed as The American Legend, but it is now owned by the giant Fiat Chrysler group which has revitalised and modernised the Jeep range.
The current Jeep line-up still delivers the rugged capability of the brand, but in a more family friendly guise, and its Compass SUV model is a fine example.
Its unmistakable styling enables it to stand out in the image-conscious SUV sector, and prices start at €26,469 (£23,355). All versions are four-wheel-drive with selectable-terrain mode, and there are 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesels and a 1.4 litre turbo-petrol engine available. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard but there is auto transmission available on some models.
With its eye-catching front grille, big alloy wheels and sleek lines, the Compass makes an immediate impression and while the marketplace is packed with SUVs, I found the Compass attracted far more admiring glances than most I have driven.
Inside the cabin is smartly presented with a large touchscreen dominating the dashboard, and sensible siting of the main switchgear. Seating is comfortable and supportive and five adults can be accomodated. The bootspace is 368 litres with all seats in use, and folded down there is a substantial 1,693 litres.
My test model was a mid-range Limited model with a 2.0 litre140 hp diesel engine and manual gearbox. Top speed is 190 kph (118 mph), the 0-100 kph time 10.1 seconds. Emissions are 138 g/km and the fuel economy impressive at 19.2 kpl (54.3 mpg). This version costs €35,694 (£31,495).
Standard features include roof-rails, privacy glass, chrome detailing, LED lights, front and rear parking sensors and rear parking camera, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control and cruise control. Extensive standard safety kit helped get the Compass a top five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Other equipment includes DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with smartphone mirroring.
Underway, the Compass is pleasant to drive, with light-touch electric power steering and good all-round visibility. It has composed handling and supple ride comfort and while its engine note is a little louder than some, it perhaps helps underline it purposeful image.
The Jeep Compass has a distinctive presence, and with the advantage of 4WD and generous equipment levels, can outscore many rivals in the competitive SUV sector.
Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.
Model: Jeep Compass Limited
Engine. 2.0 litre diesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Performance: 0-100 kph 10.1 seconds, top speed 190 kph (118 mph)
Economy: 19.2 kpl (54.3 mpg)
Emissions: 138 g/km