THE ALL-NEW 2017 Jeep Compass just squeezes into the 15.4-inch gap between Jeep’s wee Renegade and its mid-size Cherokee. Built on the same “small-wide 4×4 architecture” that underpins the bugeyed Renegade, the Compass’s wheelbase grows 2.6 inches, the new ute casting a shadow 6.4 inches longer than its smaller sibling.
How is it that, in a market gone gaga for three-row SUVs, there’s not a single Jeep with a way-back seat? Armchair product planners might think this an oversight, while FCA shareholders no doubt consider it tantamount to corporate malfeasance.
THIS HYUNDAI-TUCSON size Jeep is expected to take the market by storm with its mini Grand Cherokee-like looks and a price tag hovering around Rs 20 lakh. Continue reading “Jeep Compass – The Most Potent Off-roader In Its Class”
The all-new Jeep Compass, revealed at the Los Angeles motor show, is likely to become the marque’s best-selling model when production hits its stride in the middle of next year, with global sales approaching 300,000.
While in common parlance, everything with a bit of ground clearance is reffered to as a Jeep, we make a trip to the north-eastern end of to meet a real Jeep, in one that keeps it real from the current crop
All I could hear was a little purr in the distance as it drove past, bouncing over rocks in the riverbed and almost skimming over the surface of the stream. The petrol burning “Go Devi?” engine still showing me a fair few of the sixty horses it originally punched out of its flat head motor. The Willys MB stood before me, all of seventy-five, a full head of silver, few rattly bones and dressed in olive green. It did not seem to have missed a single day of action in the time gone by as it moved around the little trail with absolute precision and light-footedness while looking every bit as cool as only a Jeep can.
Not much has changed over three-quarters of a century, well, not in the cool department anyway. The Wrangler, that Jeep launched a couple of months back in India, is every bit as cool and still sports the same basic silhouette as its ancestor did in 1941. I already like this playground, up in the hills of Nagaland, very much. The mist keeps rolling in to settle down for the night and the clouds seem to carry just enough moisture to water the trails in the evening, just to make sure they are that much more interesting when we decide to go trail hunting.
In the little village of Dzuleke, roughly 20 kilometres out of Kohima, the resident farmers go about their life as usual. The fields are lush green and the paddy itself is heavy with grain. Our hosts are furiously hacking away with their knives at the chopping board while the wood is fired up to boil the broth that has been put together. There’s a distinct, sharp smell that floats through the air and it interrupts our conversation about the Jeeps. Yanren, a Jeep aficionado and the chap who found me this impeccably kept MB, could tell by the look on my face what I wanted to ask – and proceeded to inform me that the fragrance was that of king chillies being ground; to join the vegetables and the pork in the broth, of course. Apart from being added to the pickle they had carried along and the fish paste that was being put together.
In case you are wondering, yes, it is the same one that ranks fifth on the list of the hottest chillies in the world and nearly killed an over-enthusiastic competitor trying to down the most number of chillies in a minute at a local festival.
With that out of the way, we returned to discussing Jeeps and all the cool things that they had figured out 75 years ago. For instance, the four handles on the bucket was so the light-weight MB (it weighed in just under a thousand kilograms) could be lifted up and out of a sticky situation, the headlamps could pivot and face inwards to help mechanics work on them in the field and, not to forget, the neat little case built into the dashboard to stow away your rifle.
Not one to be left out, I came up with a few about the Wrangler as well, like the three clips that can be undone to take the roof panels off, the drain plugs that can be pulled out to give it a thorough wash in case the muck got to a point where it engulfed you and, the party trick, a couple of bolts and the doors could come off too. And although over the years, the Jeep has grown a fair bit chubbier and a lot more plush; with the leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control and a Bluetooth equipped infotainment system; what remains constant is their incredible ability to tackle difficult situations.
Give it a thought, does anything else come to mind that you would rather take to go ploughing through six-inches of mud, climb slippery slopes, embark upon a narrow trail only to find a couple of trees that have blocked your way- contemplate towing them out with a simple strap and only back out because you discover fifty leeches crawling up your legs and the thought of fainting at the sight of all that blood.
Well, the last bit was a bit of an exaggeration, but it is a possibility, right? Again, in case you think I was kidding about the ability, well grandpa ‘MB’ did it just as well and at certain points better than the Wrangler. By the way, if you thought this was interesting, you should’ve seen the look on the faces of this bunch of kids who seemed to be both in shock and awe of what happened in front of them, at a picnic spot, beyond the treaded path, in the middle of some hills and with no communication possible.
Oh, I think I forgot to mention, their SUV was parked halfway across a stream with its nose well below the water. You can see where this is going, right? Shock and awe came from the fact that we, strapping young lads (writer’s liberties, so shh), showed up in a pair of Jeeps, almost like a scene from the movies. We assessed the situation, which frankly was pretty four-letter-worded, and decided to help them out. Out came a tow strap and in went the Wrangler, in four-wheel-drive low-ratio, to bring their stricken SUV to shore. Easy as making a cup of tea, with the right sort of equipment, like an electric kettle which knows when the brewing is done. We were offered a box of fries and a bowl of ketchup, as a token of gratitude, but we politely declined.
There were more trails to be explored and, more importantly, a fresh stash of pork was on its way for dinner.
The light rain over night had left t he trail s just mucky enough to have the Jeeps slide around a little bit and it sure was a whole lot of fun. However, the old MB had had enough for a day. The drum brakes began weakening in response and the starter motor began to act up. I’ve been around a few classic cars and believe me, as much fun as they are, they can be very engaging as well – like the time when you need to pull the hood up and pet it carefully till it decides to start again or give it a little push to get the motor rolling.
In this particular case, we ended up doing both, and did so happily until a point when we’d just wait for the MB to falter, just so that we could run out and give it a push as we headed towards Kohima. After all, we thought it was the perfect way to end a brilliant day with a World War II hero. We went on to the war memorial, to pay our respects to the fallen soldiers, from the vicious battle of Kohima, who possibly determined the course that this world took after 1944.
What should be acknowledged though, is the fact that the Willys MB possibly played as much of a role in it too. There is the bit about the MB being born out of a Bantam design, bearing a Ford patented nine-slat grille and was possibly named after a cartoon character, but you can’t deny the fact that over the 75 years of its existence, Jeep has gone from strength to strength. From winning wars, to offering utility usage unlike any other, to becoming the chosen mode of transport for explorers, they have done it all.
In fact, they did it so well that almost everywhere in the world, including here in India, the SUV has been known as a Jeep, regardless of the actual nameplate it bears. Moreover, it gave birth to an off-road culture, which is still simply known as ‘Jeeping’. It isn’t surprising to note that the first SUV in the world is also the most recognised SUV and was seen before any other in every continent out there. It inspired various manufacturers to replicate their awesomeness and some even tried calling their product a Jeep.
But then, the real Jeep prevailed and seventy five years on, it is as cool as ever and possibly more capable too. The Wrangler may have grown into a plush, sophisticated vehicle with a host of features, but it stays true to its original concept of simplicity and usability while paying homage with its patented seven-slat grille.
Jeep in general and the Wrangler in particular have a certain degree of responsibility almost and so far, it has managed to outdo itself to add to the legend that it already is. And so, as we sit around a perfectly curated bonfire, chomping down on delicious Naga-style pork, we can do little but raise our glasses and cheer on the pair of Jeeps that accompanied us.
We already know that the standard Jeep Grand Cherokee is a front- runner in the premium SUV class for its ability on rough terrain. So what’s the point of th is new Trailhawk vers ion, which claims to be even more adept when the going gets tough?
It’s basically an attempt to offer buyers an even more rugged version of an already capable vehicle. The Trailhawk model gets a number of revisions to make it less of an all-rounder. There are chunky Kevlar-reinforced Goodyear Adventure tyres, retuned air-suspension, additional under-body protection and reinforced steel sills. Bespoke bumpers also feature, alongside the revised grille that’s been added to the 2017 Grand Cherokee.
OFF THE ROAD
Trailhawk features eight-speed auto box with different shift patterns depending on drive mode. Unique badging also marks model out.
Jeep has also beefed up the Trailhawk’s off-road electronic systems, by adding Selec-Speed Control, a form of low-speed, off-road cruise control. That’s on top of the usual batch of electronics, including a five-mode terrain selector, a rear limited-slip differential and hill descent control. Jeep has also introduced an off-road instrument page on its U-Connect infotainment system, which displays data such as axle angle and oil pressure.
Most of our time with the Trailhawk was spent tackling some of Nevada’s harshest desert terrain, and there’s no doubt it was impressive. The increased ground clearance in Rock mode means there’s far less risk of the car bottoming out, while the Sand setting keeps engine revs high to maintain momentum.
We were only able to try the 282 bhp 3.6-litre V6 petrol model, which suffers from a shortage of refinement and a torque deficit compared with more modern turbocharged units. The Trailhawkwill come with Jeep’s smooth 3.0-litre diesel engine in the UK, though, and that should make a much better case for itself.
Trailhawk is based on Overland spec, and it features generous kit, such as heated and ventilated electric leather and suede seats, sat-nav and a panoramic sunroof.
The Trailhawk is outclassed by newer rivals when it comes to ride – and it’s also behind the best at this price for interior quality and fuel efficiency. As a result, we’d recommend foregoing Trailhawk spec and choosing the cheaper but reasonably equipped Limited Plus trim. Rivals like the Audi Q7 can tackle mud just as well, but benefit from superior road dynamics.
Price: £ 48,000
Engine: 3.6-litre, V6 petrol
Power/Torque: 282bhp, 350Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-60mph: 7.2sec (est)
Top speed: 118mph (est)
On sale: Now
The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is undeniably impressive off road.
It’ll clamber across terrain that many premium SUVs would struggle with – but while that may hold some appeal with US buyers, it’s arguably of less importance to us Brits. The standard Grand Cherokee offers all the off-road capability you would need, and is better value, too.
Jeep is also looking into topping its range with a new £l00k Grand Wagoneer while tailing it with an all-new Nissan Juke-rivalling SUV, according to head of Jeep brand, Mike Manley.
Speaking at the Paris Motor Show 2016, he said: “We’ll definitely explore a model below the Renegade. I’m pretty confident that as we get into the future this will be a viable segment for us.”
Manley wouldn’t give a timeframe for when we’ll see the baby Jeep. He did, however, discuss more detailed plans for a flagship Grand Wagoneer SUV, saying: “The Grand Wagoneer concept is moving forward. It’s an exciting nameplate to bring back, I think.”
Manley believes a new range-topping SUV can compete with the Range Rover and models like the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, adding: “I don‘t think there‘s a maximum price ceiling per se for Jeep, I’ll use US dollars, but pushing the car up to $130,000 to $140,000 [more than £100,000] may be possible – we need to establish Grand Wagoneer in its own right first. That‘s why I wouldn‘t say there‘s a price ceiling.”
Despite the frenzy of the Paris Motor Show, Jeep decided to unveil its all-new Compass SUV without displaying it in the French capital. The Volkswagen Tiguan rival is expected to arrive in Europe in early 2017, priced from around £23,000, following its debut at the LA Motor Show next month.
The Compass will sit above the Renegade in Jeep’s range and adopts a much curvier profile than the boxy outgoing model, but chunky lower bodywork and a raised ride height ensure that it keeps the Jeep DNA.
A more rugged Trailhawk version is also available, featuring underbody protection and higher ground clearance.
At 4.42m long, 1.82m wide and 1.65m tall, it slots between a Nissan Qashqai and Mazda CX-5 in terms of size. The Compass sits on a stretched version of the platform used by the Renegade and Fiat 500X, but the Compass has a larger 410-litre boot.
Inside, it appears to be more upmarket than the Renegade, with Cherokee-inspired materials and features. Jeep is claiming it will feature a “host of safety and advanced technology offerings”.
No details in terms of UK engines have been announced, but Jeep has stated that 17 “fuel-efficient” powertrains will be offered in total across the 100 markets where it will be sold. Currently, the only engines we know of include a 16lbhp 2.0-litre petrol/ethanol engine or a 164bhp 2.0-litre diesel. However, these are only confirmed for the Brazilian market.
In the UK, the Compass is likely to feature a similar engine line-up to that found in the Renegade – a 1.4 and 1.6-litre turbo petrol, while 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesels should be offered. All-wheel drive and automatic gearboxes will also be available. The model will be built at Jeep’s new plant in Pernambuco, Brazil.
Jeep’s new Compass has been revealed in Brazil, ahead of its public debut in the US in November.
Built in the Brazilian city of Goiana, the new Compass is a Nissan Gashqai rival based on a stretched version of the platform that underpins the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X. Its styling is influenced by the latest Grand Cherokee.
Expect both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive variants, with 17 powertrain options around the world. It will go on sale in Europe in the second half next year, with more details to come when it appears at the Los Angeles show this November.
The modern successor of that famous Willys wartime Jeep swaggered onto the scene in the form of the first generation YJ Wrangler, a robust off-roader introduced by Chrysler with a Jeep badge in 1987. Wranglers were initially built in Canada where —ironically — the Wrangler name couldn’t be used because Chevrolet had already bagged it for a pickup.
If you’ve got a good ‘un, make the most of it. That’s certainly been Chrysler’s philosophy when it comes to the super-successful Jeep Wrangler, which first appeared in 1987 and had been delighting supporters of serious SUVs ever since. Their interest in off-roading was duly reflected in the 2003 launch of the TJ Wrangler Rubicon, named not for the Italian river that represents the point of no return, but the rugged Rubicon Trail in the Sierra Nevada Mountains beloved by serious four-wheel drivers.
Though its name suggests membership of a venerable lineage of existing off-road vehicles, the Jeep Cherokee XJ was completely new. It was a compact, and the first unibody sports utility vehicle; and it set the standard for all the SUVs that followed.