Jeep has waited for the facelift of its Compass SUV to introduce a plug-in hybrid, with the combination boosting its fleet credentials significantly.
The powertrain is the same as that used in the Renegade 4XE, which launched last year. It uses a 1.3-litre petrol engine and electric motor, serving up a combined power output of 240PS.
All-wheel drive is achieved via the installation of the electric motor on the rear axle, while the petrol engine powers the front wheels. The 11.4kWh battery can provide a zero-emission range of around 30 miles – placing it in the 11% benefit-in-kind tax bracket – although the electric motor’s output of 60PS means the performance in EV mode is a little lacking when compared with other plug-in hybrid SUVs.
Jeep also offers the Compass with a non-hybrid 1.3-litre petrol engine and front-wheel drive, with CO2 emissions from a fleet-unfriendly 152g/km.
One aspect of the Compass that always worked in its favour was its rugged styling. Thankfully, the exterior of the new one has hardly changed. In typical Jeep fashion there’s plenty of nods to previous models, like the squared-off wheel arches and distinctive front grille.
The interior, however, has been totally redesigned and it’s a welcome change. The new Compass has a much more up-to-date and premium-feeling cabin, packed with the latest technology. A 10.1-inch central touchscreen juts from the dash, falling easily to hand for the driver. It’s paired with a digital instrument cluster that provides a high degree of customisation.
An array of switches and buttons complement the touchscreen, providing fast access to key functions. Jeep’s latest infotainment system provides a slicker user experience than before, with an easy-to-use menu structure and high-resolution graphics.
It incorporates a new voice control system with Amazon Alexa, while the sat-nav is provided by TomTom. Our only disappointment with the new system is the heated steering wheel control appears on the passenger side of the display, a clear oversight from left-hand drive versions.
The Compass 4XE is comfortable and refined when you get out on the road. There’s not much wind or road noise, which makes for a relaxing cruise, and the suspension irons out bumps well. It’s not a particularly sporty drive, however.
We found the steering to be a tad light and numb in feel, although the calibration of the brake pedal – a common issue on plug-in hybrids – is impressive, with the transition from regenerative braking barely noticeable.
Acceleration is a little sluggish, considering the car’s power output. Officially, it can reach 62mph from rest in 7.5 seconds. But, in reality, it feels slower. This is mainly due to the six-speed automatic transmission not swapping ratios quickly enough.
The petrol engine isn’t particularly sonorous when being worked hard, so it’s best to drive the Compass with a little less vigour and enjoy the smooth ride and comfortable seat.
Pricing starts at £39,895 for the Compass 4XE in off-road-focused Trailhawk trim. The more luxurious S can be had for £40,895. Non-hybrid versions are £10,000 less.