Jeep's Compass Trailhawk: Go for it if you're an off-road junkie!

Every model that Jeep builds must have a Trail Rated or Trailhawk version, one that displays better off-road ability than the regular model, and comes out on top in tests in five areas: traction, water fording, manoeuvrability, articulation, and ground clearance. Jeeps are handy off-road, but for the Trailhawks to earn their wings, the cars get modifications: higher ground clearance, low-range 4x4 gearboxes and additional skid plates.

Quick comparison

The Compass Trailhawk comes with Jeep’s Active Drive Low 4x4 system, a system with a low range and a ratio of 20:1, a rear locking differential and an additional Rock setting on Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system. It gets hill descent control as standard. Ride height has been cranked up a further 20mm and the car gets differently profiled front and rear bumpers, giving it better approach and departure angles that stand at 30.3 degrees (approach), 24.4 degrees (breakover) and 33.6 degrees (departure). The regular Compass Limited variant’s measurements stand at 16.8, 22.9 and 31.7, respectively. The Compass Trailhawk also gets underside skid plates, all-season tyres and all-weather floor mats.

Jeep's Compass Trailhawk: Go for it if you're an off-road junkie!

The Trailhawk isn’t just a mountain-dwelling creature. To remind us of its true nature, it also has the signature red recovery hooks, a black anti-glare bonnet decal, unique alloy wheels and the Trailhawk and Trail-Rated badging. This might just be a regular Compass, but for those even slightly inclined towards anything automotive, it will be no tough task to tell this variant apart. The black bonnet decal, the red tow hooks and the badging are the right amount of deco to set it apart, and give it that butch off-road appeal. Sure, some might still want more, like massive cladding all around, a winch to bolt onto the bumper, jerry cans for the body, perhaps a ladder over its tailgate, and even massive fog lamps sprouting from the roof. This would not only scream off-road, but also take it from being an adventurer to, well, Bear Grylls.

Jeep's Compass Trailhawk: Go for it if you're an off-road junkie!

Trailhawk versions come with interior trim and spec differences as well. The car we drove had Trailhawk logos embroidered on the seats, red trim bits around the cabin and an 8.4-inch touchscreen system; the current variants in India get a 5.0 or a 7.0-inch screen. The rest is similar to the regular Compass, and that is a good thing.

The insides do appear plain, but as you look and poke around, you’ll see that it has a quality feel to it, thanks to the generous helpings of soft-touch materials, the beautifully stitched seats and the well-damped switches. While the space in front is just fine, the rear still isn’t class-leading and sitting three abreast will be uncomfortable. The backrest may feel upright for some. Boot space stands at 438 litres, and it gets a full-size spare under the boot floor.

Jeep's Compass Trailhawk: Go for it if you're an off-road junkie!

The Trailhawk experience

Jeep had chalked out a drive through a Tasmanian forest trail. But between that and our hotel in Hobart, lay about 35km of some excellent paved twisty Australian roads, perfect to check this Jeep’s road manners. I’m happy to report that the Trailhawk behaves pretty much the same, the 20mm ride height increase hasn’t really affected the handling — perhaps a back-to-back will bring out the differences, but out here on its own, the Trailhawk handled itself really well. The steering is nice, direct and well-weighted. The gearbox, however, doesn’t blend in with the rest of the sporty character. The nine-speed torque converter feels like a typical slush ’box. Put your foot down at low revs, and there is a rise in revs, but not a corresponding increase in speed, and gear changes are slow to complete. Off-road, however, it works just fine; in fact, compared to a dual-clutch auto, the more fluid shifts of a torque converter make for a smoother drive, and with no clutch plate to damage, it’s probably the better set-up to have.

Jeep's Compass Trailhawk: Go for it if you're an off-road junkie!

The trail we tackled was a rock-strewn path up a mountain, and the Trailhawk excelled. This wasn’t like the legendary Rubicon Trail in the US, but there were sections challenging enough to stop other SUVs in their tracks, the regular Compass included. We did hit the underside, but the additional skid plates did their job and kept us going, and the four-wheel-lock proved adequate enough with 4-low called on for only certain sections. The crawl ratio of 20:1 made it easy to clamber over the steeper rocks. We did encounter some water, which it dispatched with ease, but this was at a far lower level than what the car is capable of. The Trailhawk also has a higher-set air intake, giving it a 480mm water-wading depth (the regular Compass has it at 405 mm).

Jeep hasn’t confirmed a launch date for the Trailhawk in India, but expect it this year at the top of the Compass range, priced at about ₹24 lakh. It would be the only SUV in the segment to have such a sharp off-road focus and that alone will make it a must-buy for off-road junkies.

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 3:14:25 PM |

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