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2021 Jeep Compass diesel SUV replaces my Toyota Corolla Altis

Though not as muscular or as striking as the Tata Harrier, I was smitten by the clean lines and subdued look of the Jeep.

BHPian hypermiler recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Moved on from the Toyota Corolla Altis to the Jeep Compass Longitude (O) Diesel early Aug. Here is our experience...

My observations

Positives:

  • Great highway ride
  • Responsive engine
  • Solid build
  • The cabin feels well built
  • Good sound from the ICE (for an OEM, non-branded setup)

Negatives:

  • Jarring ride on broken roads.
  • Small boot
  • Light coloured seats will soil quickly
  • Weak air-conditioning
  • The touch screen of ICE is a fingerprint magnet
  • No Auto IRVM - would have preferred it over the auto-headlamps.

In the beginning...

Little did we think that we would be changing our existing ride - The Corolla Altis. After 6.5 years of ownership (mostly niggle free), the SUV bug bit us. All my past cars have mostly been sedans (except for the Zen), every other car that you see on the road is an SUV or a compact SUV when one starts wondering if you are missing out on something… So started the quest to find the steed in the avatar of an SUV…

No quips with the Altis though, and it had been a stellar car with fuss-free ownership the first 5 years. The battery actually lasted us for 5 years! But slowly issues started creeping up... Actually, as I was planning to take the car for a long drive out of town, I thought it might be prudent to charge the battery rather than sticking out your thumb in the middle of nowhere hoping some good Samaritan would give you a lift to get your replacement. When Toyota service came out, they indicated that the battery was not charging well, not because of its ability to retain the charge, but because of the faulty alternator! Next week and -35k from your pocket, the battery and the alternator were replaced. Of course, I do not know how, but parts tend to fail the moment the warranty expires (Murphy’s law?).

The car was ok for the next year when the service person (as part of the yearly service) indicated that there is a leak on the left rear suspension and we might have to replace it the next year. Quote estimated for around 6k. Finally, by the mid of the 6th year, the AC conked out. -25k to place a condenser coil, we decided that maybe we need a change and avoid becoming too familiar with the nice Toyota folks at the service station :-). So we decided to let go of the Corolla Altis with a heavy heart and get a new car.

Mind you, my first choice was to get another Corolla Altis, had it been in production. My past purchases mostly have been driver-oriented cars. So, I started dreaming about driving a Civic, maybe the new Skoda or the Superb or even a BMW 320d (I can dream can’t I?) until my dreams were shattered when the Home Minister stated that what we needed was an SUV. Well.. SUVs are good. SUVs are nice. So, the SUV bug bit us. Well, no, the SUV bug was thrust upon me (to picture this vividly, I would like to fondly refer to Matrix the movie or the Mummy). And to compound this, my son complained that his choice of colour has never been considered for all the cars that we had bought in the past. So, we had to give in to that too. So, the only choice I had been given was to decide on the brand.

Bottom line, it was going to be a RED SUV (in the RED corner)!

In the Blue corner stands…

“Life is about the journey, not the destination,” said someone (too lazy to lookup). I like to take this to the extreme. One of the most exciting moments is when you are ready for a new car and you begin the journey of evaluating the various options, contemplating, pondering, debating and brainstorm and justifying the need to go for a particular model. And then restart from scratch. You are looking at a person who spends 2 weeks deciding which kind of trackball to buy for my laptop, another two weeks deciding from where I should source it and another two weeks tracking the shipment. And I enjoy the process, much to the irritation of impatient family members. I even created an excel sheet for calculating which car gets you the most bang for the buck some years back (in case you ask for it, no, I do not have it. Must be got lost in /dev/null). So many cars, so many options and variants to choose from. I was enjoying my research when push came to shove and I was literally dragged to the first showroom. But now, I think all this analysis does not matter once you cross a level. Perhaps, you can use them to filter off the brands/cars that you do not want. With the rest, you choose one when you just ‘feel’ that is right for you. This is one of the ‘heart’ choices.

The expectations:

  • Should be of solid build
  • All disk brakes
  • No sun-roof. In Chennai? No thanks. If you would prefer slowly getting roasted in the baking sun of Chennai, yes. Somehow I get very scared when I see young and older kids standing through the sunroof. And we have the forum pitted with concerns of creaky sun-roof operations.
  • And of course, it should be an SUV and RED!

In our quest to find the right SUV that caters to the expectations of all of the family, these were the actual contenders:

  • Tata Harrier / Safari
  • Hyundai Alcazar
  • Toyota Innova (wild card)

We did not consider MG (Chinese) though my wife regrets that we did not even give a test drive every time we see one on the highway. Did not consider the Kia as well (safety ratings). The car is a looker though. Skoda Kushak was making news. But we did not opt for it as well (due to various horror stories in the forum).

Hyundai Alcazar

The arrival of the Alcazar was the reason why my wife started pestering for a replacement. The car was new and based on a variant that sells lots. Post enquiry, after reading the team-bhp reviews, somehow I was not too keen to even test drive the car. Though the dealers (KUN & FPL) consistently followed up on our interest.

Toyota Innova

We were actually looking at the Fortuner (until we heard the price, which was way over our budget).

Having tasted the reliability, raves from our colleagues, consistency of performance and of course resale value of the Innova, we wanted to see why it is so popular. Though not an SUV, we thought we will give this vehicle a go to understand what the hype is all about. Though the dealer insisted that he will send the vehicle home, I preferred to go to the showroom (Lanson Toyota, Koyambedu, Chennai) instead. The showroom experience was lacklustre (not the same experience that I got when I visited the same showroom for the Corolla Altis 6 years back). The sales lady listed out the variants and arranged for a test drive of the Diesel (I am not sure if it was a V or a Z). But the moment I started the vehicle, I was greeted with the dancing gear lever! The vehicle, though responsive, seemed to have a good amount of body roll which I was not comfortable with while doing the curves. Somehow, the length of the vehicle was similar to the Corolla. But being seated tall, I did not feel very comfortable here as well. The sales lady and a bodyguard (should we drive away with the vehicle. They had one when we test drive the Altis 7 years back as well) were busily engaged in their own discussion while we were left to our own means of exploration to find out what a particular gizmo does and where the brake pedal is (just kidding). Reminded me of my experience a few years ago when we went to TD a Maruti Brezza. The SA was practically going on about how difficult it is to own the Brezza and if we are lucky and blessed and sacrificed our firstborn child, we ‘might’ get the car as early as 6 months. I think getting hold of one still holds good now...

Once we came back to the showroom, the sales lady disappeared. We looked around and eventually spied her hiding behind a PC doing something else! I am fairly a sedate driver and I don't think I would have scared her with my driving skills. We eventually had to walk to her and conclude the session and indicated that we will get back to her soon. Actually, we decided not to come back. I know it is a great reliable car with a lot of followers who swear by it. But 'it' did not fit what we wanted.

Tata Harrier / Safari

Always been smitten with how the car looks. Though my wife was not too keen on going for a Tata car (but Tanishq and Titan are ok), I argued, why don’t we give this a try? No harm done. I was more inclined towards the Harrier than the Safari due to it being more proportionate compared to the Safari, though my wife preferred the Safari if we were to go for a Tata (looking from the safety perspective (disk brakes all around) and it looked a tad bigger too). A 5 seater was adequate for our family. We considered the Safari as the 3rd-row seat would offer more space when folded down, considering the amount of luggage my family carries around when we go on vacation (which includes a separate bag that contains our spare slippers to use, son's books when he feels he needs to be in a literary mood, gifts for our relatives when we make mid-way stops and junk food in a couple of bags that would last you till the zombie apocalypse ends). The only downside was the lack of disk brakes in the Harrier, though, if I go for the top end, I get 6 airbags.

Initially, at the Tata Gurudev Motors, the salespeople were a bit reluctant (or confused) when we walked in. But then the sr. SA or the manager came in and took over. He got us a Safari automatic (Dark Blue) quickly for a TD. I felt more comfortable while driving this vehicle compared to the Innova. The suspension was more firm and the car was easy to chuck around despite the large size. I also wanted to TD the manual version. But the car was unavailable. The SA after the test drive indicated that they can get us a Harrier within a couple of weeks, but the Safari would take 4 - 6 weeks.

Overall, the experience with Tata was quite good and the car felt good to drive too. Somehow, I still wanted to TD a manual variant before I finalize it. Being from the manual background, I felt (I have never driven an automatic), that the gear shifts were a bit slow to shift up and you had a feeling that you need to wait a bit for the automatic to slot up when you wanted to go faster. Note that the shifts were smooth. Just that it did not shift when you wanted it to.

The Achilles heel was the numerous niggles that people have mentioned in various forums, that we were apprehensive of committing 23+L. The car (particularly the Harrier) is a looker from most of the angles (except for the spectacle temple tips on the C pillar). I wanted to get the car so much that I wanted to give it another go before I went to the Jeep showroom.

I wanted to test drive the manual badly. But the SA from Gurudev motors indicated that the manual variant was out for a customer TD. I don't think they have a manual vehicle for TD. So, I visited another showroom (Lakshmi Motors) near our home to see if they have a manual variant. Looks like they also did not have the manual in hand for TD and took another TD of the Safari AT on the highway. Was doing around 80kmph and did not find the steering to be twitchy. The SA to impress us with the sunroof opened the shades. It was noon. After a minute, none of us could stand it and we closed the shades back. It was spacious inside and the 3rd row when folded gave ample space (though the floor was inclined). We almost kind of made up our minds that this would be one of the final contenders (and the Harrier). The SA also indicated that some vehicles (Blue and Gray I think) were available in the yard so that we can take delivery in a week’s time. The experience was nice here as well. If I had not to test drive the Jeep and not read about the various niggles, I would have finalized on the Safari or the Harrier (Red).

The Jeep Compass

Though not as muscular or as striking as the Harrier, somehow I was smitten by the clean lines and subdued look of the Jeep. I gave my contact information on the website. After a couple of days, an SA was associated who called me up to see what my expectations were (Diesel or Petrol, MT or AT). I said I was open to any and will swing by the showroom the next Saturday.

Come next Saturday, go to the showroom. My son saw the Red Compass in the showroom and immediately said that we should get this colour!

While we were checking out the car, another family walked in along with their teenage daughter. The first thing that the girl did was to get into the car, pop opens the sunroof and stands through it! When you are buying a car for 20+L, you do have to ensure that everything works as advertised and caters to your needs. Compared to the other brands, I felt the Jeep showroom was visited by younger people and couples (except us of course who are young at heart). Tata had a wider mix and Toyota had most customers wearing white ;-).

We were offered a TD on a Petrol AT first. The traffic was very high and I gingerly edged the vehicle to move forward until I got used to the AT. The engine was smooth and once I got the hang of the car, I was able to drive comfortably. The gears held on a bit when I pressed the accelerator and there was a slight lag before it up-shifted to gather speed. The car felt compact enough to drive within the city. Wife was happy with the interiors. The AC was not so chilling though.

Next, we took the TD of the Diesel manual. The moment I started the vehicle, God rays parted from the cloud and fell on the car as I attained a sense of completeness and a feeling that I have found the chosen one. No, I'm pulling your leg… These clouds do not like to come to Chennai at this time of the year. And God rays are practically everywhere due to the lack of clouds. So, the moment I started the engine, there was some shudder and some engine noise crept in, but the outside traffic noise was well isolated. But the moment I slotted the gear to 1st and 2nd, it felt very natural for me to move this vehicle despite the mad rush of traffic outside. I was able to get into the 3rd and 4th gear and felt very confident. The clutch was slightly on the hard side and had a long journey. But this TD sealed the deal to go for the diesel. I did not want to give an impression to the SA that I really liked the car so that I can use my negotiating prowess to strike the best deal. I did ask for the Petrol manual, but the dealer did not have a TD vehicle in the manual petrol avatar.

With the type of engine and the transmission finalized, now came the next point of discussion. The variant. We initially were kind of settled on the Sport (base) variant, but eventually decided to go for the Longitude (O). Compared to the Sport, the features that we felt as a must-have were the bigger touch screen, (wife wanted) roof rails, 6 speakers and the keyless entry for 2.5 lakhs more. The Limited was the variant that was selling in higher numbers. What we lacked were the sunroof, 18” alloy wheels, dual-tone colours and 6 airbags for an additional difference of ~2.5 lakhs. Of which the first 2 were not deal breakers for us. I can always do a wrap to get the dual-tone or change the alloys. SA mentioned you can get the car top painted back for ~23k INR. So, 5l for 6 airbags was way over our budget.

Ok. With the variant decided, the final touchy subject was the colour. My son was adamant to get the Red, while I and my wife liked the Techno Green. After a lot of discussions, we finally agreed (and convinced my son) to have the Green as the first choice (though the SA was not sure if it will be available in the Longitude variant) and the second option was Red and the third option Black. I should have smelt a rat on my son agreeing to the Green so easily. Bit more on that later... The overall price for the longitude variant came to ~25.6l. Remember, I wanted to show my negotiating prowess. Well, I meekly asked if there were any discounts. There were none. End of discussion. The salesperson out of pity said that she will reduce the insurance by ~50k later. Decided to opt for 2 years extended warranty (~40k). Paid the booking amount of 50k INR the next day and initiated the process with fingers crossed. The overall booking experience was quick.

The Wait...

The SA after a week called back and indicated that there are no new cars on Green available and it had to be ordered and shipped from the plant. She indicated that it might take a couple of months or more to get hold of it. However, a White Longitude was available for delivery within a week. Were not too keen on white. She did give us options of Red / Black / Light silver on the limited option. We did not want to stretch our budget and indicated that we were willing to wait for one of the colours of our choice.

Treachery!!! Little did we know that my son was praying to God since our first visit to bump up his preference to the top. The request seems to have been accepted :-). A couple of weeks later, the SA again called us indicating that there are a couple of Red longitudes available pan India and if we need to block one, to do so immediately. Since it was in our choice of colours, we decided to go ahead considering the upcoming rainy season and possible COVID wave 3 and not to risk extending delivery.

A few days later, the SA indicated that the car has been blocked so that we can release the necessary funds and that we will be getting the car in a couple of weeks. Our first walk into the showroom was in early Jul. The car arrived at the stockyard by late Jul. On getting the VIN, I noticed that it was a Feb manufactured vehicle. It was a bit disappointing to know that there was a gap of 5 months. Told the SA that I would like to take a look at the car before registration for a PDI. The SA reluctantly agreed and the car was brought to the showroom a day before registration. We quickly inspected the car (using the team-bhp PDI checklist) and it seemed to be ok, except for some dirt on the seat which the SA indicated she will get it cleaned for delivery. We gave the go-ahead for registration.

We also met with the accessories person. I usually get the mudguards and the mats as part of the standard fitment. But here, they were extras that we had to purchase. We decided to get the mudguard and the floor mat (rubber). Had been using the fabric mats in my Altis and it wore off after a couple of years, while my Fiesta’s rubber mats lasted for ages. The floor mat was expensive (~7k). Did not opt for the boot mat. Perhaps I will get them when there is a need later. Asked the accessories person to fit it before I take the car for delivery.

Delivery Experience

Arrived by the afternoon on the D-day to take delivery. Not much crowd on that day. The SA was engaged in a meeting and a delivery coordinator was assigned to us to get the formalities done. The TV in the showroom displayed the car (picture of the actual variant and colour) and my name wishing happy miles. There was a cake cutting ceremony. We presented the coordinator with a box of chocolates and requested it is passed on to the SA and all the staff members. My wife browsing through the accessories display got us (me and my son) a couple of Jeep t-shirts. We were taken to the delivery area and were presented with a box containing the usual Jeep knick-knacks (Jeep keychain, a pen, perfume, a silicone cover for the remote key, a cap and a tote bag).

Once inside, I started the car amidst applause, fumbled with the electronic parking brake (I still do after two weeks) and finally made our way through the busy road. The car had ~100kms in the ODO. I would say that this was the quickest delivery that I had experienced, which was good. The car had ½ tank filled with fuel. Made our way to the Cathedral nearby to give thanks and in return, filled the tank. The car drank around 4k worth of fuel to fill the tank. Reached home safely. Note: The number plates were not fixed. So the coordinator had fixed a printed strip of paper behind the windshield with the number allotted to us. The SA later called us to enquire if we needed anything and that she would get the number plate fixed and activate the connected features (jeep life app) when we bring back the car a couple of days later.

Post-delivery experience (1 month and counting)

I can't seem to decide which angle the car looks good. I think it looks good from all angles!

We had taken a couple of drives on the Chennai bypass in the initial 2 weeks. Fastag was from Axis and I was able to reload some amount and was scanned properly when I crossed the toll. The only quip is that the toll booths did not recognize the tag automatically and the operator had to call someone to manually scan the tag to let us pass. Not sure why. Perhaps the TAG is associated with the chassis number rather than the registration # or they require a manual scan for new tags for a few days. But until now, 90% of the time, the booth operator calls out to someone to manually scan the tag. Any thoughts, people of team-bhp?

[i]Flash forward: Changed it to Paytm midway during the trip where the Axis tag failed to work. Paid double on a couple of toll booths.

The number plates arrived a couple of days later and were fixed within plastic ‘Jeep’ marked frames. We installed the JeepLife app. Took a couple of tries to register. But somehow, I was not able to register with my mobile phone (no OTP was received). Tried with my wife’s phone and it worked and we got it enabled. SA told us that we can change the number later from settings. When we got back, I changed the number back to mine. Looks like up to five people can register for the same car and get updates on the status of the car. No more driving fast and your wife will know exactly where you have been every time you take this car in real-time too. So, it becomes difficult if you plan to surprise her by buying something for her as she would know about it beforehand. I assure you that that's the only reason for my concern. Honest.

Now, I am able to see the car status (battery, fuel, coolant temperature, last trip details and even a score on how I had driven during the last trip) from the app.

Opted to join the Madras Jeep group. But do not see any activities or events there yet. Perhaps the rest of the members fled on seeing me join. Seems quiet for now.

Why did we name our car The Blaze?

We arrived at Blaze after considering the sporty and powerful nature of the car. These are some potential alternate names - Red Dragon, Brisingr, Red (from the Angry Birds fame / Hell boy), Blaze, Carmine, Fiery, Rowan, Firebird, Fireball. Eventually, Blaze was chosen anonymously.

Some key observations after a month and 1.5k km

Ride and handling:

  • Love the way the car handles on the highways. The ride is smooth and the steering offers good feedback. Not gone beyond 120 km/h though. Overtaking vehicles is quite a breeze and you have enough power on tap when you need it.
  • Though every time I go beyond 80 km, you get the ‘chime’ that we are not used to in my older cars. At 120 km/h, it becomes a continuous chime. I do hear an occasional chime when I drop from 100 km/h as well. Not able to glean the pattern...
  • The car seems to be capable of handling curves well. But taking the curves with a bit of apprehension due to this warning from the user manual:

  • In the city, the first gear is very responsive and is immediately able to pull the vehicle. But the moment you let go of the clutch, the vehicle starts crawling at 8 - 9 km/h. And I think you get to this speed pretty quickly. In slow-moving traffic, this means that you would have to regulate your speed (which is usually slower) either by using the brakes or half-pressing the clutch. I usually tend to regulate the speed with the clutch more than the brakes in my other cars and have not faced any clutch problems with them. But with concerns in the forum on early clutch burnout, I am a bit worried. Any thoughts? The gears gain traction when I start releasing the clutch (maybe within the first 25%) while on the Honda City, the gears get traction in the last 25% of clutch release. I am not sure which is good. But I need to adjust to it every time I switch cars.
  • Steering is light at city speeds (almost Honda City light, but not there yet, but definitely better than the Altis which I felt was a bit heavy) and weighs upon the highways.
  • I managed to stall the car a couple of times when I forgot to downshift from the 3rd gear to the 2nd during the early drives. But now, I am more used to it.
  • The clutch was heavier earlier. But now, I do not find it that bad. Perhaps, with enough workout to my left leg, my ability to press the clutch has become better.
  • Recently completed 1500 km and averaging to ~16.x km/l with 70% on the highway and rest in the city. Pre-COVID, my driving pattern was ~90 km daily. And I was using petrol cars. Of the 90 km, 40 km was on the highway. Was quite happy with the Altis or the City which gave around 13 - 14 km both. But with COVID, it is mostly work-from-home unless there is an emergency when I have to drive to our native places or to the workplace occasionally.

Fit and finish:

  • Panel gaps are consistent
  • The paint quality seems good. With the Exotica Red, I do not notice any orange peel effect on the body.
  • While riding through minor rumble strips, the dashboard stays put (my Honda City, the dash vibrates along with me).
  • Initially thought there was some noise when I go over uneven roads. Realized my water bottles rubbing on the side door panels were causing the noise. Maybe rubber or felt lining there might help limit this.
  • Coming back to a diesel car after a long stint, I find some amount of vibration on the gear lever and the steering initially. But it tends to become smoother after some time.
  • Though speed deterrents (speed breakers and potholes) placed by our friendly city planners within the city were handled well. At low speed, on uneven roads, it becomes jarring when you drive through 'wild terrain'. There are a few spots near my home where I am forced to encounter them every day.
  • The car seems solid and the bonnet is super heavy. One of our rituals the next day of taking delivery is to remove the garland and the ribbon. A good way to get familiar with a new car is to know how to open the bonnet. That way, in case there is some issue, you can pretend to do something useful under the bonnet rather than fumble with the user manual to find out how to open it in the first place. The same goes for knowing how to change a flat tire and knowing where the tools are and how to operate them so that you can get out of an unknown territory quickly.
  • Mostly driving at 80 - 110 km/h. I did not hear excessive wind or tire noise while driving.
  • I do find that the outside noise is considerably reduced once I find myself inside the car. I was trying to take a call while I was waiting at a roadside shop and was not able to hear a thing due to heavy traffic on the road. So, went inside the car and shut the door and most of the outside noise was filtered out and I was able to hear the other side clearly. Mind you, I was not using Bluetooth telephony. But just listening through my handset.

Safety:

  • You can hear the electronic parking brake engaging and disengaging every time you press or pull the parking brake button
  • Auto-stop is enabled by default. Auto-hold is disabled. I did notice when I am on fairly steep inclines where all the four wheels are not at the same level, the car seems to be in some sort of an auto-hold mode even though it is disabled. You need to press the accelerator a bit before the car moves. Until then, it looks like the brakes seem to have been engaged. It sounds like auto-hold. But it was actually disabled. Perhaps there is some mechanism that detects all the wheels are not at the same level and some safety feature (other than auto-hold) kicks in to hold the car in place?
  • Like the way, the cornering lamps light up when you signal a turn. They do provide additional illumination when you turn
  • Only 2 airbags, one for driver and the other for passenger. 6 airbags could have been offered as standard for all variants at this price

Exteriors:

  • The tires are R17 Firestones. Check out the alloys. These are common for Sport and Longitude. The rest of the higher variants have a different style.

  • No projector lights. But they are white lights though. I am getting used to this. I kind of prefer the warmer yellow lights though.

Same at low exposure.

  • A cap-less fuel filling system baffles most of the fuel attender. One of the attendees tried to open the AdBlue reservoir to fill diesel! The instructions indicate that once the filling is done, wait for ~10 seconds (for the fuel to drain). None of the fuel attendees is patient enough to wait that long...

Interiors:

  • Miss the auto-dimming IRVM. The Altis had it and it was super useful
  • 1-litre bottle barely fits in the side door pocket. With the car that drives so well, why distract the drivers by keeping more or bigger bottles within reach, thereby restricting us from experiencing the pleasure of great driving dynamics due to frequent restroom breaks :-)?
  • Did not realize that the front armrest is adjustable and developed shoulder pain. The gear lever was tall and that might have also been a contributing factor. But once I adjusted the seat height (am 5' 7") and the armrest, I no longer face the problem again.
  • Auto-ac switches off the LED indicator for internal circulation mode. LED indicator for AC is also off. So, I assume when you select Auto, it purely goes with the temperature that you have set. If I select AC or Recirculation mode, Auto LED switches off.

  • One-touch window controls are provided for driver and passenger and can be controlled by both the driver and passenger. But only the driver-side auto-up/down works with one-touch while in accessory mode. Passenger side one-touch does not seem to work in accessory mode. Did not try to stick my neck out to see if anti-pinch works. Not sure if it is there.
  • You need to rotate the knob that controls the side view mirror to the small icon at the bottom to get the mirrors to fold. Other cars have a separate button to fold or you gently push the rotary knob down to auto-fold. But once you get the hang of it, I think you would be fine.

  • Passenger side sun-shade has a vanity mirror, but no dedicated lights.
  • The inside plastics are a pale grey. So are the seats. So, they are likely to get soiled quickly. Particularly the door sills. Maybe I will consider getting the scuff plates.
  • The fabric on the dash looks different and refreshing. The same fabric is carried over at the door panels.

  • Air conditioning is average. Not like the one in Altis where your knuckles freeze off with a 23-degree setting. I do not think I had brought down the temp in that car below 23. Here, we have already gone down to as low as 20. But still, it is not as cold.
  • The upper portion of the dash is soft-touch plastic
  • A closer look at the passenger side storage compartment and the fabric used in the dash

Driving controls

  • Blanks on the right side of the steering for a 25.6L car.
  • The steering mounted control buttons seems a bit stiff to use. It takes a bit of effort to press them. The rocker buttons underneath the steering are softer. The advantage is, you do not accidentally press them while using the steering.
  • FCA likes our car's windshield clean. Did the customary windshield wipe when I wanted to turn due to the indicator stalk being placed to the left? As I switch between cars, now doing it more often on both the cars :-). Why can't we get the indicator stalks to the right? Ford cars also have the same configuration. The Ford SA indicated that this was a safety feature as you can always keep one hand (your right) on the steering while you use your left for an indicator or gear shifts. I don't buy it.
  • The indicator seems to be placed a bit further behind the steering and I need to take a bit of effort to reach it to signal a turn. I prefer to keep my fingers on the indicator most of the time. Now, I have to stretch my fingers a bit to touch the stalk.
  • Though, all it needs is a gentle tap to get the indicator to blink 5 times. Did not face this issue in any of my previous cars. Perhaps my fingers are short, so it might be more pronounced for me.
  • The digital display in the instrument pod always starts with a digital speedometer. Even if you switch to something else (I keep them to show the distance-to-empty, range details), the next time you start, it switches back to the digital speedo. Would have been nice if it maintains my last preference.

This is what I would like to see...

  • But it always starts with a digital speedometer.
  • Fumbled with the parking brake button multiple times. Here is an easy way to remember how to engage this the right way. It can be pulled up to engage and pushed down to disengage. Very similar to the action you perform with the traditional parking lever. Took some time for me to realize that.
  • Both the side view mirrors are progressively convex at the ends, thereby minimizing the blind spots. The All New Fiesta had a similar configuration.
  • One of the first things that you cringe at after you have returned to India after a stay abroad is the honking. Well, fear not. You will be kept comfortable as Compass owners may have to stretch their fingers and really apply a bit of pressure to honk. I think for India, you do not need a press type horn. Most would probably be better off with a toggle switch (to operate the horn, which would be more efficient)

In-Car Entertainment System:

  • The music system is the best that I have experienced so far (did not check the Safari during the test drive. I am sure, compared to the six-speaker setup, they would be better). But, compared to the cars that I had driven long term, this seems to be the best seconded by the stock music system from the All-New Ford Fiesta.
  • There is provision to connect up to 10 mobile phones. But only two can be configured for telephony and one for music at any point in time. Out of the 10, you can tag 2 of them as your favourites. These I think will be given preference for telephony and music.
  • Sometimes, I feel the ICE touch response lags a bit, particularly when you want to switch music from one phone to another. Other aspects of the UI appears snappy
  • ICE screen is crisp and there is no difficulty in reading them during daylight.
  • ICE screen is a fingerprint magnet. Now the screen is peppered with our marks. My mother noticed from the back seat and complained why we have so many marks on the screen.
  • Daytime reverse camera clarity is ok. But at night, it is not so clear. See sample images...

Day

Night

  • Two Bluetooth mics, one for the driver and the other for the passenger. I think the mics placement is spot on. The Altis had the mic near the AC vent as part of it's ICE. So, people complained that there was a lot of noise when I used to attend calls from the ICE.

Space:

  • Boot space seems smaller than what is being claimed. I used to place two suitcases (one large and one medium) flat next to each other in the Honda City / Altis boot and then stack a couple more on top. Here, I cannot do so, and have to angle the smaller one to fit. But the smaller one interferes with the parcel tray. One of our relatives booked their car a few years ago. The only thing they checked was the boot space. No TD, ICE test or checking the features of the car etc., It was the older Maruti Dzire. The SAs would have thought them crazy.

Personally, I think the sedan's boot space is more useable while the same space (as in spec) for a hatchback or SUV might include the space above the parcel tray as well. Utilizing this space would interfere with the rear visibility.

The white and red apple bag holds our spare slippers if you must know...

Comparison of boot space between the Honda City and Jeep Compass. Apologies for the blurred Compass boot.

Honda City:

Jeep Compass:

The tool kit and the reflector have Velcro strips to stick them to the boot floor. This takes up space on the floor compared to the other cars where they are usually kept within the spare wheel space or under the boot lid. If I were to get a rubber boot mat, then kits will have to be kept loose or I may need to get a net.

Space for the driver seems to be better in the Honda City compared to the Jeep Compass. Perhaps it is my perception due to the higher dash and the protruding ICE in the Compass. My left knee brushes against the dashboard on the Compass. But it was not obstructive or uncomfortable.

Rear seats are strictly for two. You can accommodate an unfortunate 3rd person for short drives.

Future Mods:

I do like to keep my car stock. In the future, perhaps, I might consider a black wrap on the top.

Parting shot:

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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