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Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review: Off-Road Gladiator, On-Road Champion

Overall rating: 4

We recently drove the Jeep Compass Trailhawk, which is the hardcore off-road biased variant of the mid-size SUV in Lonavala. During our first drive, we tested the SUV to its limits in its natural habitat to find out if it is good enough to take on the terrains with ease. Here's our experience.

By: | Updated: June 7, 2019 12:21 PM

The Jeep Compass launched in India a little over two years ago and was one of the few vehicles in the recent past to create a massive pre-launch hype. One of the many reasons to make the brand popular in India was its iconic off-road capabilities so the Compass with its impressive off-road technology got off to a good start. However, what if the standard Compass isn't enough for you? We've got some good news for you in that case as Jeep is finally bringing the Compass Trailhawk to India. So what is a Trailhawk and how is it different from the standard Compass? Read on as we try and explain it to you.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk Intro & Design

Clearly, the most exciting bit about the Jeep Compass Trailhawk is its off-road capability. Now Trailhawk is a badge that not every Jeep can wear and only the ones that pass through a treacherous test are allowed to wear it. That said, Jeep India hasn't simply brought in an international spec model with mild tweaks but instead have made extensive changes to the vehicle to suit Indian conditions.

Visual changes aren't extensive but one can still make out the difference between a Trailhawk and standard Compass. There's a black sticker on the hood of the Trailhawk and a part of the front grille has now been closed in order to prevent water entrance during water fording. New 17-inch alloy wheels look stunning and the blacked-out roof adds to the already dynamic design. At the rear, the bumper is a revised one and features a red tow-hook as well. In addition, there is a 'Trailhawk' badge at the rear and a 4x4 Trail Rated badge on the front fender.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk Off-Road Driving

Now coming to the meat of this story, the off-road configuration of the Jeep Compass Trailhawk is quite hardcore in off-road terms. The ground clearance is up by 30 mm over the standard Compass and the suspension too is new with a new suspension, which has been tuned specifically for Indian conditions. Just in case the additional height at times isn't enough, the Trailhawk comes with 4 skid plates to prevent underbody damage.

The biggest change in off-road terms is the inclusion of a 4x4 low mode, which allows for a final crawl ratio of 20:1. In simple terms, this means that at as low as 5 kmph you'll have full torque available to help you get out of tough spots.

In addition, the air intake snorkel height has been increased from 720 mm to 840 mm, allowing for enhanced water fording. The approach and departure angles too have been increased, which means that getting over and off steeper inclines is now possible. The black decal on the hood that I mentioned earlier isn't there just for show but is an anti-glare decal to prevent windshield glare, which can be a bigger problem while going off-road. The tow hook at the rear in red not only looks cool but can pull 1.5 times the gross vehicle weight of the Jeep Compass Trailhawk.

The best part, however, is how all these technologies combined with the electronics work seamlessly to provide an excellent experience to the driver. In more than three hours of gruelling off-road driving, the Compass Trailhawk conquered hard looking obstacles with ease. Now I won't say that nothing else in the market can do what the Trailhawk can but I'll tell you this. Anything else that costs lesser than the standard Compass itself or even slightly higher and is capable of matching the Trailhawk in off-road is not just massively uncomfortable on normal roads but isn't adequately safe as well. Hence, as far as compact SUVs with off-road capabilities are concerned the Jeep Compass Trailhawk is the new king of the hill!

Jeep Compass Trailhawk Road Performance - Engine & Gearbox

The engine powering the Jeep Compass Trailhawk is the same as in the standard Compass, a 2.0 Litre turbocharged diesel unit with 171 hp and 350 Nm of torque. With no major change in weight, the engine continues to do an effortless job of moving the vehicle around. That said, the engine in the Trailhawk is BS6 compliant and can run on BS4 fuel as well. It features a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology to cut down Nox and PM emissions. The 13 litre AdBlue tank with a blue filler cap next to the diesel one is claimed to last for about 9,000 km. This means one will need to get it replaced once between the service interval of 15,000 km.

The biggest change in the powertrain though is the inclusion of the 9-speed automatic transmission, which is also a first in its segment. The transmission offers reasonably quick shifts in most situations but does feel a bit uncertain and slow when pushing the vehicle really hard on winding roads. The good thing here is that the electronics work really well to optimise things. When going down an incline the sensors track the change in angle and hold on to a gear maintaining higher rpm, which proves safer by maintaining engine braking. A bit of lag can also be found when under 1,700 rpm but that's the known nature of the Compass engine and just requires a slight change in driving style to counter.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk Ride Quality & Handling

Jeep Compass Trailhawk offers a slightly stiffer ride quality not just because of an updated suspension but also because the stiffness counters the body-roll arising out of the increased height. At higher speeds, though the vehicle is impressively planted and even through tight bends around Lonavala the Trailhawk managed to put a big smile on our faces. The steering has been tailored for India so it isn't as light as in the USA or as heavy as in Europe. This means parking and driving in traffic doesn't require a lot of effort but the steering still feels firm at high speeds and has a perceivable amount of feedback as well.

Jeep Compass Cabin and Features

The Jeep Compass Trailhawk despite being a committed off-road vehicle doesn't compromise on safety or comfort. It continues to offer a comfortable cabin, which now looks better in an all-black theme. Features such as the larger UConnect touch infotainment screen and panoramic sunroof have been carried forward into the Trailhawk. A slight disappointment though is that things such as electrically-adjustable seats and auto-dimming rearview mirror have been sacrificed in order to keep cost in check. In addition, there are red accents around the gear selector console, instrument cluster and door speakers. The seats also get red stitching and Trailhawk branding.

Another cool addition in the cabin is the 7-inch colour screen in the instrument cluster. This screen provides a clear and easily readable display along with more information than usual including the status of the AdBlue tank level.

Conclusion

The Jeep Compass Trailhawk is aimed at off-road enthusiasts who want a compact SUV without compromising daily practicality or comfort and the Trailhawk fulfils the requirement impressively. You can drive it to office, parties, weekend family outings and still join that off-road club without having to worry if your SUV will be able to make it through obstacles or not.

The vehicle is expected to be launched by the end of June and we expect prices to be around Rs 26 lakh. At this price, the Jeep Compass Trailhawk offers an exceptionally appealing and off-road capable package but will appeal to a limited number of enthusiasts mostly. If Jeep can surprise us with lower pricing they would find it easier to sell more Trailhawks and establish the brand in India, paving way for future models.

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