Jeep Compass Trailhawk: First Drive
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The Compass gets a new flagship variant. But is it right for you?
The Trailhawk variant in Jeep’s lineup represents the toughest of the crowd. They are beefed-up offerings, with off-road-oriented changes, to tackle the more challenging terrains. When the Compass initially got one in 2019, it came with more than just that. It introduced a much-needed automatic in the range which gave buyers an additional reason to stretch the budget by Rs 2 lakh and go for it. In 2022, however, the Trailhawk variant only offers the enhanced off-road capability for an additional Rs 1.38 lakhs. Can this be reason enough for you to now buy the Trailhawk at a whopping Rs 30.72 lakh?
- The Trailhawk clearly stands apart from the regular S variant. And while the S looks more classy and urban, the Trailhawk looks ready for action.
- Changes include a new front bumper which is higher for better approach, new fog lamps and most prominently, a black and red wrap on the bonnet.
- The 16-inch alloys are wrapped in HT (Highway Terrain) tyres, unlike the S which gets larger 17-inch wheels. As far as off-road credentials go, the Trailhawk should have had AT tyres.
- The body cladding on the S is in body colour, whereas the Trailhawk flaunts it in black. The bumpers are different at the back as well, along with an exposed tow hook. The ground clearance has been increased by 25mm. And that concludes the changes.
- If you are looking for a family SUV, the Model S definitely looks classier. Especially in the red and green shades. The Trailhawk looks more attractive covered in mud and is meant to look more rugged.
- The updated Compass took a big leap ahead when it came to interior quality. The layout, materials and equipment finally felt worthy of the price tag. In the Trailhawk too, the same premium, even borderline luxury feeling prevails.
- The difference is in the texture of the leather of the dashboard which is now perforated and the underlying panel which is now in black. The stitching, too, has gone from white to red. The interiors definitely look more sporty now.
- As far as the equipment is concerned, the Compass Trailhawk comes fully loaded with powered and cooled front seats, the auto headlights and wipers, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, a 9-speaker sound setup, six airbags and a 360-degree camera, to mention just a few highlights.
- The large 10-inch touchscreen is smooth in operation but still feels a bit too cluttered with the many options it has. The only real thing to complain about is that the ventilated seat controls aren't a single touch operation. They are hidden inside a menu. The large digital driver’s display too can be a bit too complicated to navigate while on the move.
- The biggest takeaway from the cabin is the premium quality and feel which can easily rival luxury SUVs.
- The Compass’s biggest limiting factor, as far as a family SUV is concerned, is the rear seat space. The legroom and knee room, while ample, is not what you expect from a large SUV. The sense of space is compromised, only helped by the large panoramic sunroof.
Engine and performance (Off-Road)
- The same 2-litre diesel engine on the regular Compass makes its way here as well, in the same tune and with the same transmission. So the regular drive experience is exactly the same as the Compass S we drove. You can read more about it here.
- What’s new with the Trailhawk is the off-road capability. It gets a new “Rock” mode, apart from the regular Sand / Mud, Snow and Auto. This 9-speed box gets a low ratio first gear and only engages it when you switch to 4x4 low. All other times, it starts from the second gear.
- Get off the road and the Trailhawk feels effortless. It manages to climb steep inclines with a rocky bed without much stress. The higher ground clearance and the better off-road angles really come into play here as it barely makes you worry about clearance.
- The first gear manages torque well and you don't have to go heavy on the throttle to get moving. The only shortcoming here are the tyres which tend to spin. The hill descent control also works very well. Just engage it and get off the throttle, and the Compass manages to keep a gentle pace by itself.
- If your off-roading needs are limited to getting to the farm house which includes going through rough terrain or tackling some steep undulations, the Compass Trailhawk will get you there. But if you are looking for something more serious, the Thar, Gurkha or the V-Cross will be more capable.
Ride and handling
- The suspension tune has been altered in the Trailhawk to make it better over the harsher terrains. This means it does feel a bit more still in the city over broken and uneven roads. However, with the frequency selective damping, it still gets better over the bigger undulations like speed breakers and potholes. Going faster over these undulations makes the ride feel even more settled.
- The steering, like the S, feels a bit heavy as compared to the other city-oriented SUVs but is still manageable in the city. However, it's the brakes that feel out of place. The pedal needs more feel and the brakes need more bite.
Despite the different personalities, the appeal of the Compass Trailhawk is not very different from the Model S. It does still fit the bill of a premium family SUV which is still manageable to drive in a crowded city. The trailhawk further adds the bragging rights of the flagship and the Jeep’s esteemed ‘Trail Rated’ badge.
And while the Trailhawk easily manages to stand out in a crowd, it's the S which feels more premium and is more friendly in the city with slightly better ride comfort as well. And if it's only capability you are after, other, more focused off-roaders do it better at a far lower price point. Moreover, there is a certain Toyota on the horizon too. The only reason you spend extra for the Trailhawk is if you need the added capability in premium packaging.