When I heard that Jeep brought back its most affordable, go-anywhere machine, the Compass Trailhawk, I was overjoyed. It’s been a while since we got a mainstream car that specialises at something, and in the case of the Jeep Compass Trailhawk, it’s supposed to be able to take you through almost anything. The Trailhawk badges, both outside and in, underline that ability to traverse the rough stuff, and there’s enough visual differentiators between the standard Compass and its more hardcore sibling.
Jeep’s ensured the design will not hamper its skill in clambering over difficult terrain with new front and rear bumpers, and even an overall lift. The improved 205-mm ground clearance, along with the 30-degree approach angle, 24-degree break over angle, and 34-degree departure angle, are more than suitable to take on almost anything thrown at the Trailhawk. But it’s not all function over form. The narrower front bumper gives the face a sharper, toothier look, somewhat reminiscent of a wolf with its teeth bared. A large black and red decal on the bonnet adds some distinction, as do the new-design 17-inch alloys.
Yes, these are smaller than the 18-inch ones you get on the standard Compass, and they do get higher profile rubber, which is said to aid both, on-road and off-road ability. Still, they do fill out the wheel wells adequately. However, these Falken tyres do feel like they are a little lumpy at low speeds on tarmac, and the suspension does let more than a few bumps filter in at those speeds. On the other hand, the combination of the tyres and suspension do deliver excellent high-speed stability and control, so much so that there’s barely a difference between the superb bump absorption of the normal Compass and the Trailhawk at speeds above 60 kph.
And then there’s the way the Trailhawk manages to quash a rocky and or muddy trail. In fact, just leaving the drive mode in Auto (and selecting 4WD Low) will see you make easy progress over these terrains, without the need to shift into the specific mode. I see myself especially enjoying fording streams, as the 483-mm of water-wading depth, along with the grunty 2.0-litre diesel engine, would make for a trouble-free, and rather exhilarating experience. Interestingly, only while doing some serious off-roading does the nine-speed gearbox shift into first. For every other situation, the Trailhawk uses second gear to start, even in manual mode!
Speaking of the gearbox, it’s really the biggest chink in the Compass Trailhawk’s otherwise impenetrable armour. It’s slow to shift, and does so with an audible ‘clunk’. There’s a sense of lethargy to the unit that seems completely incongruous with the torquey turbo-diesel engine. That’s really a shame as the 1956cc unit has a greater potential than the gearbox allows for. My only complaint about the engine is that refinement is a mite under par and it gets rather boomy as the revs rise, but other than that, the 168-bhp oil-burner suits the Compass perfectly. But for the gearbox, the Trailhawk would even be decently entertaining around a set of twisties, on or off the road.
Like the normal Compass, the Trailhawk gets a revamped interior, with a number of new features. The all-black with red highlights theme looks sporty at first glance, though after spending an extended amount of time in the cabin, I felt the expanse of black was more dull than sporty.The new dashboard is attractive yet simple, and the new 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen is a definite highlight. The 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster is a worthy addition and is highly customisable besides. What also adds to the Trailhawk’s off-road ability is the 360-degree camera, though having a spotter for rough terrain is still recommended.
The Trailhawk embroidered seats (the front ones even get ventilation) are comfy, and quite adjustable, and the large panoramic sunroof helps create a sense of space. That is especially important as the Compass isn’t the roomiest of SUVs. Three smaller adults in the rear bench would fit, though the middle passenger will not be quite as comfortable on longer journeys.
At the end of the day, you get exactly what you pay for with the Jeep Compass Trailhawk. You have a competent road-runner, an excellent off-roader, and a modern, if snug, interior, and you only pay Rs 1.38 lakh more than the range-topping Compass Model S for the additional go-anywhere gear. The sheer amount of things that you get in a small frame and a Rs 30.72 lakh, ex-showroom, India, price tag definitely makes the Trailhawk worth the premium you’ll pay for it. I mean where else would you get such an all-rounder?
AUTODATAJeep Compass Trailhawk
1956cc, I4, turbo-diesel
168 bhp@3750 rpm
35.69 kgm@1750-2500 rpm
F/R: 225/65 R17
Rs 30.72 lakh (ex-showroom, India)