What is it?
Sometimes a company rejigs its product line by shifting the baseline.
Jeep has done that recently with its new Night Eagle, now the first step in the Compass range.
It does however involve a couple of compromises.
What’s it cost?
Find yourself $36,950 before dealer and government charges (call it maybe $41K or so for driveaway as it does vary) and that’s your starting point.
Premium paint including the Grey Magnesio as was on our review vehicle is $645.
A glass roof was fitted and that’s an extra $1950, making our car $39,545 before on-roads.
For the dosh you get a five-star safety rating, with seven airbags, a Full Speed Collision Warning System, and Lane Departure Warning Plus.
Rear camera, rear park sensors, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are standard.
Outside one would be forgiven for thinking, at first glance, it’s a Cherokee, such is the family look.
There’s a solid looking, bluff, front end with slimline headlights and a prominent lower grille mounted sensor plate.
Jeep slides in a couple of heritage hints with the seven slot grille and a couple of small windscreen decals.
Rolling stock is 225/55/18 black painted alloys with Bridgestone Turanza rubber.
Subtle crease lines and roof rails balance each other.
The tailgate is manually operated and easy to lift, opening to a handy 438 litres worth of cargo space.
The interior is not sparsely trimmed, with leather bolstered seats that feature a hexagonal style motif, a good looking dash with jewelled inserts, and the Jeep 8.4 inch touchscreen.
It’s a delight to use and sits above dials that back up some features embedded in the touchscreen such as climate control.
Underneath these are plugs for 3.5mm Auxiliary and USB.
The screen also has up to 18 different themes, although we felt some were the same — however there were a few that have that hexagonal theme look to mirror the seat trim.
But it is an entry level vehicle and a couple of things show.
It’s key start, and it wasn’t always easy to remove it on shutoff.
The left hand indicator stalk makes a very plasticky sounding click when engaging too.
The driver’s door had misaligned trim, and on opening there would be that horrible plastic on plastic scratching.
Also, the cargo section has a security cover, with the standard clips attached to the tail gate that come loose frequently.
What’s it go like?
Here are the compromises.
It’s two-wheel (front) drive, a 6-speed auto, and ONLY a 2.4-litre Tigershark petrol engine.
The numbers are 129kW, 229Nm, and Jeep’s official 11.2L/100km for the urban cycle.
This is (not) helped by the propensity for the auto to stay in 4th around town.
Manual shifting sometimes had it in 5th, but 6th was only ever seen on the highway.
It rolls the engine at 2000 rpm where we saw our best of 8.8L/100km.
Dry weight is 1446kg meaning close to 1700kg with fuel, driver and passenger.
For all of that, it’s a reasonably willing engine, definitely hampered by the auto which would dispatch 1st or 2nd before hanging on to 3rd before finally lurching into 4th.
Push hard and it gets somewhat thrashy, noisy, with a real metallic keen as it surges past 4000 rpm.
The auto can be smooth (sometimes), but clunks more often than not especially at suburban speeds.
It’s not always decisive, leading to that clunk as it up or downshifts depending on the driving situation.
Uphill runs had 3rd as the seeming default ratio. Disappointing and out of touch with that fuel usage as a result.
Our overall average came in between 9.5 to 10.0L/100km on our 70/30 urban/highway split.
Ride and steering are somewhere between adequate and not bad.
Rebound is mostly quickly controlled, steering is light but tends towards understeer, and there’s a small measure of body movement. Good, but not class leading.
What we like?
- It’s a not unattractive looker in grey
- Well appointed interior
What we don’t like?
- Engine and auto package disappoints
- Economy suffers as a result
The bottom line?
Jeep as a brand is in need of some loving because of previous issues in quality and back office service.
It’s acknowledged that by offering a 5-year warranty, 5-year capped price servicing and lifetime roadside assistance.
Having driven a decent selection of product from the brand, the Night eagle stands out for what it isn’t — not what it is.
It’s not as good as the next model up (Limited) and not as good as competitors such as the all-conquering RAV4 in similar spec — or the Tucson or anything from Mazda.
It has potential though, and for some, paying up to $42K to put a Jeep in the driveway is a decision made that overlooks the driving compromises around town.
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Jeep Compass Night Eagle, priced from $36,950
- Looks - 7.5/107.5/10
- Performance - 6.5/106.5/10
- Safety - 9.5/109.5/10
- Thirst - 6.5/106.5/10
- Practicality - 7.5/107.5/10
- Comfort - 7.5/107.5/10
- Tech - 8/108/10
- Value - 7/107/10