The Compass is Jeep’s assault on the lucrative compact SUV market.

Their ranks are numerous, and led by the likes of the Volvo XC40 and Volkswagen Tiguan, but few do much to embrace the utilitarian principles their raised ride heights espouse.

It shouldn’t therefore come as a surprise that a company with 70 years of off-roading know-how should seek to leverage its experience and appeal to drivers who might just want some substance to match the style. It’s why the Compass not only has a stylishly raked roofline but comes with a switchable, GKN-built all-terrain four-wheel drive, and why it matches a more luxuriously appointed interior with suspension hardware designed to provide proper wheel articulation.

The gearbox is also fitted with a ‘crawl ratio’ capable of delivering maximum torque to either axle and yet amenities such as an electrically operated tailgate and 19in wheels are available as options. In terms of sheer versatility, very little else in this class comes close – at least on paper.

That’s why we’re road-testing the Compass. Nobody should doubt the makers of the Wrangler – a veritable mountain goat of a machine with an enviable history – can deliver a robust and ruggedly capable compact SUV on a budget. But equally, merely cloaking such a car in an attractive body is no guarantee of satisfactory on-road manners.

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With unrefined engines and a chassis easily flustered on British roads, the previous Compass was testament to this. Can this latest iteration do any better?

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