Compass fits in above Renegade but some top Renegade models overlap entry level Compass variants

Compass fits in above Renegade but some top Renegade models overlap entry level Compass variants

Jeep, the latest brand to set up volume vehicle manufacturing in Brazil, has a clear mission for the new mid-size Compass compact SUV: sell 2,000 to 2,400 units monthly once post-launch production levels off.

The automaker is counting on some local market recovery by 2017.

Compass pricing is competitive at BRL100,000/US$31,150 to BRL150,000/US$46,700 across four trim levels and two engines: the new two-litre, Tigershark, 164hp flexible-fuel FWD with six-speed automatic plus the two-litre, 168-bhp MultiJet II diesel coupled to a nine-speed automatic with AWD.

The Compass will face three locally-made competitors: Hyundai's ix35/Tucson, the Mitsubishi ASX and the Renault Captur due in December. Models less prone to success due to import quotas and duties include the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage and VW Tiguan. The Renault Koleos may enter battle in a slightly higher price bracket.

The Cherokee is roomy inside thanks to the 2.64m wheelbase and the boot holds 410 litres (388 litres with the top-spec Trailhawk's spare tyre).

A Compass highlight is equipment not in general found in this price bracket here in Brazil: adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic headlamp dipping and forward collision mitigation with automatic braking, for example. Up to seven airbags are standard, according to version.

Power adjustment for both front seats (in the top version) is also unusual but there's no hill-holder function (making use of the electric parking brake), MMI with no capacitive touchscreen and no Android Auto/CarPlay.

Diesel engine vibration and noise reduction is very good. With the engine at idle there is less steering wheel shake than in the Renegade and Toro pickup truck.

The Compass is 88kg heavier than the (also locally made) Renegade so acceleration and speed recovery suffers somewhat, disappointing considering the higher price.

The difference is less noticeable with the flexible-fuel engine, predicted to take 70% of sales, according to the automaker's forecast. It is a more modern, powerful and torquey powertrain, better suited to the size of this new model.

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