Jeep heads in new direction

2011-08-13 08:48

Chrysler SA has just launched the new Jeep Compass, and it’s a steal.

The car has completely new looks, is more fuel efficient and is much more capable. And to top it off, it’s packed with standard features and dangles quite an attractive price tag as part of the company’s 70-year anniversary celebration.

This compact 4x2 SUV is more of a baby Grand Cherokee and gets many of its design cues from it, especially the front grille and the interior. The exterior features a new bonnet with a power bulge, fenders, headlamps and a menacing grille with chrome surrounds on each of the traditional Jeep seven slots.

Towards the rear, there’s a new colour-coded spoiler, LED tail lamps, bright trim touches on the side steps and a chrome exhaust tip.

And of course, macho-looking cars need macho wheels to match, so 18-inch aluminium wheels come standard giving the Compass a nifty pimped-out look.

Inside, the doors feature soft-touch padded panels, a new steering wheel with integrated controls, leather premium bucket seats in the front and cruise control.

Other standard convenience items include air-conditioning, keyless entry, fog lamps, sunscreen glass, illuminated cup holders and fold-flat rear seats.

Optional features include a Uconnect media centre with iPod interface and a power sunroof. While the standard sound system isn’t half bad with a six CD player, I got to drive one with nine Boston Acoustic speakers with liftgate and a subwoofer.

It comes with a cable so you just plug in your iPod. And on a sunny day in Cape Town, that’s how you want to cruise with the windows down and the breeze through your hair.

Ride handling has been upgraded to challenge any weather conditions thanks to the improved steering and suspension systems. It also helps that there are 30 safety and security features, including electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, hillstart assist and side-curtain airbags.

The new Compass is the first 4x2 offering in the Jeep range for South Africa.

Under the bulging bonnet lies a 2.0-litre DOHC 16V dual VVT petrol engine with a five-speed manual gearbox.

A second-generation CVT2 auto transmission will be added to the range later this year.

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