What is it?
Despite its evocative name the Jeep Compass Night Eagle is actually the entry level Compass and as such the cheapest Jeep available in Australia.
The Night Eagle certainly looks the goods, but you need to dig a little deeper to find what you actually get for your money.
And, lucky for you dear reader — that’s where we come in.
What’s it cost?
The Night Eagle is priced from $36,950 plus on-road costs, rounding out at around $40K.
Over and above Night Eagle is the Limited ($42,950), S-Limited ($45,950), all powered by the same 2.4-litre four cylinder petrol engine, and finally diesel powered Trail Hawk ($49,450).
Our test vehicle appears to have been fitted with some options including side decals, $645 premium paint and a $1950 glass sunroof.
Limited, S-Limited and Trailhawk are all four-wheel drive and acquire a 9-speed auto, compared to the auto in Night Eagle which has six cogs.
Cloth/vinyl trim and dual zone climate air are standard with a heavy emphasis in the equipment list placed on the infotainment system, with its big and I might add square 8.4-inch touchscreen display.
It comes with satellite navigation, a huge rear view camera, DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, coupled with 6-speaker audio and and can be used to control most functions of the car.
Five-star safety comprises 7 airbags, rear park sensors, Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus, Lane Departure Warning Plus, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Path Detection and Advanced Brake Assist.
Night Eagle rides on 18-inch alloys, with a leather wrapped shifter and steering wheel, electric parking brake, daytime running lights, auto lights and wipers, roof rails, tinted privacy glass, LED ambient interior lighting and a nifty hidey hole under the lift-up passenger seat cushion.
What’s it go like?
The 2.4-litre four cylinder Tigershark petrol engine delivers 129kW of power at 6400 revs and 229Nm at 3900 revs, and is paired with a traditional 6-speed auto that drives the front wheels.
With auto engine stop-start to save fuel, it’s an eager combination, eager that is to get off the line as the the front tyres scramble for traction.
In a rarity these days, you need to insert the key in the ignition to start the vehicle and it is sometimes difficult to retrieve.
Indicators are on the left and it has an electric handbrake.
The seats and seating position are diabolical.
We were still trying to find a comfortable compromise after a week behind the wheel.
With short squabs, you’re forced to sit either too close or too far away from the wheel, making it hard to reach the touchscreen or the wheel itself in the latter scenario — with a driver’s footrest that needs to be about half a footrest to further to the left.
Pondering how they could have got the seating so wrong, especially not being able to comfortably reach the wheel, we were reminded of long-rusted Alfa Romeos from decades past.
It was then the penny dropped. Of course, the Fiat-Chrysler connection. You don’t have to be Einstein to work out where they got those seats from . . .
On a more positive note, the front passenger seat has a hidden compartment for storing small items, with a cloth tab to lift the seat base.
The rear seats are elevated with good rear legroom and rear air vents for the aircon.
However, it’s possible to bang your head on the top corner of the back door when you’re getting out if you are leaning in towards the front seat.
The driver instrument panel comprises two analogue dials separated by a small info screen where speed can be displayed digitally.
A physical volume button is located at the bottom and to the left of the screen, but you’ll need to go looking for the steering wheel controls which are located on the underside of the wheel.
Then it’s on to the main attraction, that huge, dominant 8.4-inch Uconnect — and might I add “square” — touchscreen, with satnav, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, together with voice control.
It’s a beauty with the square format providing room for control buttons below the main display, and drilling down through the menu system reveals some unexpected fine control of functions, along with a multitude of themes from which to choose.
Some functions are doubled up like the aircon which can be controlled on screen and off screen.
Sitting on 18-inch wheels with 225/55 series rubber, and a space saver in the boot, the ride is surprisingly comfortable.
But as we started to push a more enthusiastically on back roads, the wagon exhibits a little more bounce and body roll than might be necessary — although it did rebound quickly.
Approaching a sharp left hand corner, purposely pushing too hard, it sits surprisingly flat with some brief, engineered oversteer from the rear end.
Again it recovered quickly.
Like the throttle, the brakes can be a bit over reactive.
With a 66-litre tank and capless filler, fuel consumption is rated 7.9L/100km and it takes standard 91 unleaded.
We were however getting 9.2L after 400km which is pretty ordinary compared with the competition, remembering this is not a 4×4 and should not be cut any slack.
What we like?
- Looks to thrill
- Nice big touchscreen
What we don’t like?
- Key start
- High fuel consumption
- Cruise control not adaptive
- Space saver spare
The bottom line?
To be kind, it’s a good looking bus, a smaller lookalike of the best selling Grand Cherokee and a huge step forward from the first generation.
On the flipside, don’t be fooled by the fancy name because Night Hawk is actually the entry model to the range and is missing some key features that you might take for granted.
For instance, it’s powered by a large, thirsty four cylinder engine, this model is front-wheel drive and you need to start it with a key.
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Jeep Compass Night Eagle, priced from $36,950
- Looks - 7.5/107.5/10
- Performance - 7.5/107.5/10
- Safety - 7.5/107.5/10
- Thirst - 6.5/106.5/10
- Practicality - 7.5/107.5/10
- Comfort - 6/106/10
- Tech - 7/107/10
- Value - 7.5/107.5/10