SUV/TRUCK REVIEWS

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Jeep Compass Trailhawk: A compact SUV off-roaders will love Featured

Feb 24, 2019 Hit: 113 Written by 
The Jeep Compass Trailhawk handles well both on everyday streets and off-road excursions, something few vehicles can claim.
The Jeep Compass Trailhawk handles well both on everyday streets and off-road excursions, something few vehicles can claim. Photo by Matt Myftiu/AutoTechReviews.com

The reality is that most SUVs and crossovers are used for shopping mall trips and soccer practices.

But Jeeps are different. They still have a loyal crowd who gets a bit more adventurous and goes places most of us won’t go. With that in mind, their Trailhawk offerings are offered to please this off-the-beaten-path crowd.

I recently spent some time in a Jeep Compass Trailhawk, and I’m back with a full report.

LOOKS

No surprises on the grille: Your standard Jeep design can be found up front with the seven stripes.
In terms of an overall look, it’s a pretty straightforward small crossover design, with a clearly all-business/rugged look to it. The two-tone paint scheme on the hood did spice the look up a bit.


Inside seats on the Compass Trailhawk were comfy, but this isn’t a vehicle that’s trying to be luxurious (leather-wrapped steering wheel being a lone exception to that rule). The front row was comfy, but overall the inside is a bit cramped, especially in the back seat.

There is a well-designed layout of all the interior controls and a great setup on the center touchscreen. Steering wheel controls are also straightforward, and you get the option to add a power liftgate, as well as a dual-pane sunroof.


Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: Jeep Compass Trailhawk
  • Price as tested:: $35,110
  • Best feature:: Off-road capability
  • Rating:: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Compact SUV buyers looking for something more adventurous


The Cold Weather Group option is a comfort booster — with heated front seats and heated steering wheel, plus wiper de-icer. All Compass Trailhawks come with rear-window wiper and defroster.

Keeping the vehicle rolling are 17-inch off-road tires, paired with polished black pocket aluminum wheels, and the rear seats fold for increased storage space. Even with this, the Compass’ storage capacity is limited compared to its competitors. Curb weight of the Trailhawk comes in at just over 4,000 pounds, and the Compass occupies a space in the Jeep lineup between the larger Cherokee and smaller Renegade.

HOW’S THE RIDE?

The Compass Trailhawk I tested featured the only engine offered — a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder with a 9-speed automatic transmission, with a manual option on the shifter. Numbers were 180 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque.

On other trim levels of the Compass, a six-speed manual transmission is also offered.

The engine, in my experience, was not very fast or powerful, taking a while to get up to speed. This is not a vehicle aimed at horsepower junkies.

On the plus side, it handled quite well and did prove reliable in all weather, on all types of roads, and was surprisingly smooth on regular roads, making it much more than just an off-roader you pull out of the garage on the weekend. The Trailhawk can easily be an everyday vehicle too, and you’ll hardly know the difference.


Unlike other Compass trim levels (where 4x4 is an option), the Compass Trailhawk is only offered as a 4x4 vehicle. It offers increased ground clearance, and is Trail-rated to handle off-road excursions without concern.

It includes a raised Off-Road Suspension, and the Selec-Terrain System lets you choose between Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock settings. It features Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control. As you may have figured out, the Rock setting allows the Compass Trailhawk to make its way up rocky surfaces with confidence, by keeping the vehicle in first gear and targeting torque only to wheels capable of finding grip.

Towing capacity of the Compass Trailhawk is 2,000 pounds. Other helpful features include Electronic Stability Control; Electronic Roll Mitigation; fuel tank skid plate shield; and a front suspension skid plate.

Overall, it’s without a doubt a contender for the most capable all-terrain option among compact SUVs.


TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

The Jeep Compass Trailhawk offers an impressive array of tech features compared to the other vehicles in this segment. For starters, you get keyless entry, push-button start, and remote start.


There is also a Parkview rear back-up camera that is quite helpful, and the vehicle is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible for phone mirroring. You can also easily connect to Bluetooth for purpose of making phone calls and accessing music from your phone.

The Navigation system is optional, but I would recommend it. It worked great and had excellent traffic updates. Specifically, my test vehicle had the optional UConnect 4C Nav system with an 8.4 inch screen — which proved itself to be among the easiest systems to use in the business. This is always a highlight of FCA vehicles, as control by both touch and voice can be mastered by anyone in no time. The system includes one year of satellite radio, complete with traffic updates.


Moving beyond infotainment, one option for safety features is the Safety and Security group, which includes the helpful ParkSense Rear Park Assist system, a trustworthy Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection system, plus a security alarm and rain-sensitive intermittent wipers.

A separate safety package offers adaptive cruise, automatic high beams, forward collision warning and mitigation, and lane departure warning and intervention. The exterior mirrors also have embedded turn signals, which is a nice touch. The Compass Trailhawk featured mostly 4-star and 5-star safety ratings but rollover was rated a bit lower at only 3 stars out of 5.


MPG

The official fuel mileage numbers on the Compass Trailhawk are 22 mpg city/30 highway/and 25 combined. In my experience, the numbers were lower, and I didn’t even break 20 mpg during my time driving the vehicle.


Most of the competition in the compact SUV category will beat the Compass on fuel mileage, but none of them will perform as well as the Compass Trailhawk off-road, so that’s its saving grace in this area. This deficiency may be forgiven by its target market.

PRICE
The Jeep Compass Trailhawk that i tested came to $35,110 after options, base price on the Trailhawk trim starts around $29K. Base version of the Compass starts around $21K, so depending on your needs, there’s a pretty wide gap in pricing options overall on the Compass.

BOTTOM LINE

Jeep’s bread-and-butter is the crowd that loves to take excursions off-road and feel confident in their capabilities. The Jeep Compass Trailhawk's capabilities play right to their sensibilities.
And as a bonus, it also drives well on the regular roadways, something that all off-road focused vehicles can’t say.

AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page. Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com

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