2021 Jeep Compass facelift road test review
India is only the second market globally to get the facelifted 2021 Jeep Compass, quite a clear sign of Jeep India's ambitions with this update to its core mode line. This Compass is also the first of a new model offensive from the SUV pioneer for India, three new cars are planned after this over the next two years. So the task at hand for this refreshed Compass is largely similar to what the original was meant to do in 2017. You see, the Compass has been a victim of its success. The mid-sized SUV was an immediate hit with its premium take on a C-segment SUV, but since then a flood of new offerings have eaten away at its success. We'll try and find out if the 2021 Compass can regain lost ground.
2021 Jeep Compass facelift interiors and features
The main focus with this update has been on sprucing up the Compass' interior and convenience offerings. A good move, with the massive advances that rivals have made in this aspect since the Compass first launched. From this perspective, Jeep has got it almost entirely right with the new SUV. The fully revised dashboard looks and feels significantly more premium in the new all-black theme. The horizontally-aligned design with the stepped central ridge running the width of the dash is set to be a common thread for all future Jeeps, it immediately looks rich and contemporary while significantly improving the sense of lightness in the cabin. The slim air vents are crisply integrated into the design, rather than having to be overtly styled to fit in. Also impressive is that all the touchpoints feel soft and perceived quality is up to the segment's standards. We only wish there was a bit more detail, the patterns on the ridge could have been textured, air vent adjustment and the carried over indicator stocks could have felt heftier and maybe a slightly softer grade of plastic could have been used around the glovebox and footwell.
It's quite a well-thought-out design though, dominated by the new 10.1-inch UConnect 5 infotainment system. This unit is the true highlight for this refresh, bringing the Compass bang up to date with its OTA updates and connected-car capabilities. This Android-based system is the new segment standard in our books, quick and responsive to use with almost no learning curve involved. It's widget-based home screen and the very logically laid out menus mean that no function is more than a few taps away. Also, the completely seamless wireless Android Auto integration makes things even easier.
This sense of ease is fully realized by the newly designed centre stack, done up in gloss black. This section now features large tactile buttons for important functions like the dual-zone climate control and the audio system, itself a new 9-speaker Alpine unit. With the growing trend of larger screens and fewer buttons, the crisp rotary controls for the infotainment functions that also double up as redundancies for the touchscreen feel quite novel to use. Here, the earlier rotary control for the AWD functions has been replaced by a toggle switch and new button arrangement, adding a better-placed set of cupholders and accommodating a wireless charger. Strangely, the new ventilated seat function and the 360-degree camera features don't get easy-access physical buttons.
Another big highlight is the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. This again works well, with numerous screen layouts(upto 24!) that depict information in well thought out graphics. In front of this is the new 4-spoke steering wheel, which adds new buttons and softer leather but may feel a touch too large for some drivers. Other changes to the facelifted Compass are the front new seats, now with power adjustment for the passenger. Although these offer good under-thigh and lower back support, the bulged top-half of the seatback can be intrusive for some. All seats now come trimmed with black leather and vinyl upholstery. Of course, the slightly compromised rear seat and boot remain unchanged, although the bootlid is now power operated.
A point to note here is that many of the new features coming to the Compass will be for the newly-added top-spec Model S trim, positioned above the Limited Plus.
2021 Jeep Compass styling
Along with the completely redone interiors, the 2021 Compass gets a new face. The condensed seven slat grille is now only ornamental, flanking a slimmer set of quite effective LED projector headlamps(for the Compass Model S) with new detailing. The new split airdam below this manage all the airflow, with the slated section on top housing the new LED foglamps and the large honeycombed section at the bottom making for a cleaner look. All without a smidgen of chrome to be seen anywhere.
The pre-facelift Compass' styling still looked contemporary but these changes have enhanced its mini-Jeep look quite well and brought the Compass' face in line with the latest Jeeps like the Grand Wagoneer Concept and the Grand Cherokee L. There are a new set of smart-looking 18-inch alloys too while at the rear the taillamps have been revised marginally. The rear bumper has seen a slight tweak as well. There are a couple of additional paint options as well, including this stunning shade of blue with the Model S exclusive matt grey dual-tone highlights.
2021 Jeep Compass facelift driving impressions
The Compass' big highlight has always been its driving experience, and with no mechanical changes made with this update, that positive remains intact. So the Compass still feels light and easy to manoeuvre in traffic, its smaller footprint an advantage here, and remains sure-footed well into triple-digit speeds. Aside from some roughness at very low speeds, the Compass handles pretty much everything our roads throw at it. It is pliant over rough surfaces with little unwarranted body movements, which seems to get better the faster you go over these patches!
It's also quite a bit of fun when you start to hustle it along, with great poise and just the right amount of lean around bends. The precise steering and throttle pedal also help here. Of course, this being a Jeep, you have a full suite of off-roading 4x4 equipment with terrain modes and even a traction management system. Most owners will probably never put a Compass to the test off the tarmac, but we've known this car to be very effective for what it is when things get mucky. More usefully, the AWD system works to manage grip during on-road driving. It does this quite seamlessly and intuitively, adding to the dynamic character.
The engine-gearbox have been carried over as is too. Which maybe isn't as nice. In its BSVI iteration, the 2.0-litre MultiJet(173PS/350 Nm) has become more refined and linear, and that exciting mid-range wallop of the BSIV version has been largely dialled out. Other than this, the motor is responsive and shifts the Compass along just like you would want it to. But the limiting factor here is the nine-speed automatic. Jeep India seems to have retuned this gearbox for a bit more response, the facelifted Compass is a touch quicker in our overall and in-gear acceleration tests than the pre-facelift car, but it's generally hesitant nature hasn't changed. It works well as long as you stay decisive with your throttle inputs, but any sudden changes in inputs or loads seem to unsettle the unit, sending it into a wave of indecision that is only resolved after you completely back off. The lack of paddles or a Sport mode exasperates this situation further. With rivals now featuring the latest in gearbox tech, we wish Jeep had found a better fix for this with the update.
2021 Jeep Compass facelift expected prices and verdict
Jeep has addressed most of the Compass' pressing needs in this facelift. From being a laggard, this SUV is now the benchmark for features and interior ambience in the segment. As for the drive experience, you can avoid the iffy auto box altogether. The Compass continues with its petrol and diesel manual options even on the top Model S. Prices aren't known yet but we hope Jeep India rationalizes them now, the Compass lost favour mainly because its value proposition was being eroded by better-equipped rivals. But as a premium SUV that has something in it for every kind of owner, the Jeep Compass is better than ever.
2021 Jeep Compass facelift real-world mileage and performance
City fuel efficiency - 10.98 kmpl
Highway fuel efficiency - 15.45 kmpl
Overall fuel efficiency - 12.09 kmpl
0-100 kmph - 11.5s
30-50 kmph - 1.8s
50-70 kmph - 2.4s
60-80 kmph - 2.5s
100-0 kmph - 42.3m/3.4s
Starts Rs 16.99 Lakhs