Jeep Compass Trailhawk: First Drive Review

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  • 16.99 - 28.29 L
    Ex-showroom Price ( Delhi )
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author image Ajinkya Lad
Thursday 06 June 2019

This is the Jeep Compass Trailhawk, the more capable off-road spec version, that is. It comes with a BS-VI compliant diesel motor, an automatic transmission, mechanical and cosmetic upgrades, and then some more. But, do these changes make it a potent off-roader in the premium mid-size SUV segment? We find out.


Firstly, let me give you a brief overview of the SUV that has turned the fortunes of Jeep in India. With over 36,000 units sold since its launch in India, the Compass is to Jeep, what water is to a fish. The SUV created a frenzy when its prices were announced back in 2017, and over the span of time, the Compass has established itself as a premium offering in its segment.


Now, the Jeep Compass was always a handsome-looking car, and the Trailhawk takes its a few notches further. While the overall design is similar to the standard model, it receives a few cosmetic and functional changes. These include an anti-glare black decal on the hood, and the party trick is the 'Trail Rated' monikers on the front fenders. It also gets matte gunmetal finish on the front grille, fog lamps bezel, ORVMs, roof, pillars and the window line. For all their claims to ruggedness, the signature twin red tow hooks at the front are conspicuous by their absence in the Indian edition. However, it has been done to comply with the new pedestrian safety norms. The SUV, though, gets a rear tow hook, which can haul 1.5X of the gross vehicle weight.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk

The Compass Trailhawk comes with redesigned front and rear bumpers, and an increased ground clearance, which now stands at 205mm. The SUV gets improved approach, break-over and departure angles. This, complete with higher ground clearance, helps the SUV in tackling harsher terrains with assurance. Then, there are the new 17-inch dual-tone alloy wheels, while Jeep India also has thrown-in all-terrain Falken Wildpeak HT tyres in the mix. The Compass Trailhawk features a higher-set air intake, which enables the SUV to drive a water-fording capacity of 483mm. The off-road credentials are further improved by the underbody skid plates and all-weather floor mats.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk

Unlike the exteriors, the interiors of Jeep Compass Trailhawk feature a handful of changes. Differentiating the Trailhawk from the standard model are the all-black interiors with red accents around the instrument cluster, gear lever and the speakers. The SUV comes with contrast red stitching on the steering wheel, seats and door pads, and it also gets the 'Trailhawk' badge on the front seats. The seats, itself, are well-bolstered and offer excellent lateral support. There's nothing to fault about the quality of materials to in the cabin. That said, although the Compass Trailhawk will be the range-topping model, it misses out on equipment that is standard on the Limited Plus trim. The Trailhawk doesn't get powered driver's seat and automatic headlights and wipers. Heck, even the panoramic sunroof is available as an option on the Compass Trailhawk.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk

Still, the Trailhawk is handsomely equipped with model-first features. This includes engine start/stop function, a new 7-inch multi-information display, and hill descent control, all of which are not available on the standard version. Safety equipment that completes the package includes six airbags, traction control, ESC, hill-start assist, and an electronic parking brake. The package also includes features like an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, advanced cruise control with speed limiter, bi-xenon headlights, and keyless entry/go.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk

The Jeep Compass Trailhawk is offered with a BS-VI compliant 2.0-litre Multijet Turbo II diesel motor that pairs with a ZF-sourced 9-speed automatic transmission and Jeep's Active Drive 4x4 system. Jeep has worked on the internals of the engine, and the motor has been tuned to improve the initial clatter. That said, engine becomes quite vocal once it goes past 3,000rpm. But then there would be only few instances like overtaking when the engine will have to be worked a little. Otherwise, the power delivery is linear and with a strong mid-range it can chug along comfortably.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk

Now for the automatic transmission, the carmaker is using a nine-speed ZF gearbox that offers closely-stacked ratios and upshifts early in a bid to improve fuel efficiency. This gearbox doesn’t get a dedicated Sport mode, but there’s an option of manual gear shifting (without paddle-shifters). This isn’t as snappy as you would want. That said, the gearbox is slightly slow to react to throttle inputs with some delay in shifts. This results in some back and forth movement of your body while upshifting. Now let us give you a lowdown on the off-road manners of the SUV.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk

In Jeep's confines, the Trailhawk badge isn't given but is earned. And when Jeep says its SUV is 'Trail Rated', they mean serious off-road cred. All 'Trail Rated' Jeep SUVs are tested on five parameters – traction, ground clearance, articulation (ramp travel index 321), manoeuvrability and water fording ability. And for us to test the off-road prowess of the Compass Trailhawk, Jeep had designed an off-road course, where we had to take the vehicle through deeply dug ditches, a patch of boulders, small ponds, climbing hillocks, descending down mountains, and everything in-between.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk

The Active Drive 4X4 system on the Compass Trailhawk comes with Jeep’s Active Drive Low function and a locking rear differential, which provides a final drive ratio of 4.334 and a crawl ratio of 20:1. The Selec-Terrain drive system also gets a dedicated Rock mode, in addition to the Sand, Snow, Mud and Auto modes. The abundance of torque that the ‘4WD Low’ mode offered around this circuit helped us in tackling the various obstacles.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk

First came the axle-bender section, where we got to test the articulation of the vehicle. Then there was a patch full of rocks, followed by technical bends, and steep inclines and drops. Things became easier with the improved approach (26.5 degrees), break-over (21.2 degrees), and departure angles (31.6 degrees), and the underbody protection also meant that we didn’t have to worry much about any impending damage to the belly along the course.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk

Further, the hill descent control came into play and took the vehicle downhill at crawling speeds. All we had to do was to steer in the right direction. Humming cheerfully, the drive-train made short work of the tricky hurdles and the light steering also helped us a great deal in such conditions. What’s more, the Trailhawk also gets a disconnecting rear axle feature and a power take-off unit (PTU) that again are useful when the situation isn’t as demanding.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk

Jeep has tuned the steering according to the Indian driving conditions. It is light for city driving/off-road conditions and weighs up nicely at highway speeds. The steering is direct and points the car in the right direction with slightest of inputs. It offers good feel and isn’t reluctant to come back to the centre. The steering isn’t overly assisted either.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk

Also, the Trailhawk features an all-independent suspension setup, with high tech FSD (frequency sensitive damping) dampers from Koni. The suspension damping is commendable and these help the SUV in providing a plush ride quality. While the low-speed ride is slightly on the stiffer side, the high-speed ride is composed. The automaker has reworked the suspension setup to counter the added weight and the increased height. A hydraulic rebound stopper (HRS) has been used to contain the clunking noise if the SUV goes over sharp potholes and speed breakers. Even for the cabin insulation, there’s hardly any wind/road-noise that filters into the cabin. The all-terrain tyres offer good grip levels throughout, but they do screech even during normal cornering. The brakes offer good progression and feel. However, we would’ve loved a stronger bite for reassurance.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk


Make Jeep
Model Compass Trailhawk
Fuel Diesel
Variant 4WD
Engine Capacity 2.0-litre
Max. Power (bhp@rpm) 171@3750
Max. torque (Nm@rpm) 350@1750
Gears  Nine
Length mm 4395
Width mm 1818
Height mm 1640
Wheelbase mm 2636
Fuel Capacity (in litres) 60-litres
Tyre size 225/60 R17
Jeep Active Drive 4WD °
Leather Upholstery °
Bi-Xenon Projector Headlamps °
Six Airbags, ABS and ESP with Hill Descent Control °
Two Zone Automatic Climate Control °
8.4-inch Touchscreen Infotainment System & 7-inch Colour MID °
Jeep Compass Competitors
Make Hyundai Mahindra
Model Tucson XUV500
Fuel diesel diesel
Variant 2.0-litre 4X4 AT 2.2-litre 4X4 AT
Engine Capacity 1995 2179
Max. Power (bhp@rpm) 182@4000 155@3750
Max. torque (Nm@rpm) 400@1750 360@1750
Gears  Six Six
Length mm 4475 4585
Width mm 1850 1890
Height mm 1660 1785
Wheelbase mm 2670 2700
Fuel Capacity (in litres) 62 70
Tyre size 225/55 R18 235/60 R18

The answer we set-out to seek at the start of the review was, is the Compass Trailhawk a capable premium off-road SUV? The simple answer to this is a thumping yes. The Jeep Compass Trailhawk shines on off-road trails, drives well, is packed with features, and offers the convenience of an automatic transmission. Sure, it could have done better with a sporty gearbox and a suppler low-speed ride. However, these shortcomings aren't significant enough to not consider the SUV. Now, only if the company prices it sensibly at around Rs 26 lakhs (ex-showroom), Jeep India will have a winner at hands.

Photography by Kapil Angane

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