The Jeep Wrangler was one of my favorite cars last year.

It was an unwelcome return to the models that created the brand and the car you buy with your heart, not your head.

But to support this niche model in markets like the UK, Jeep needs to sell more thoughtful things – simple family rates with 21st century engines and toys. Machines like a compass.

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Unlike the smaller B-SUVs, this segment is mostly mixed, so the Compass style is fairly simple, with the usual tall and slightly square shape that can trace its roots to the old Jeep Grand Cherokee. At the very least, the specifications of our test car were a bit lively and looked really evil, whimsical and pretty cool with deep blue paint, glossy black trim and a thin blue background of icons to accentuate its hybrid features.

Because, yes, despite Jeep’s famous propensity for V6 and V8, this smaller model is a plug-in hybrid with a tiny 1.3-liter gasoline engine.

Despite the small power, in tandem with the 44 kW electric motor, the jeep produces 237 hp. and feels cheerful enough. The EV engine guarantees an instant reaction when you need it, and the petrol helps to pull the car well, although with strong acceleration it is obvious that it is a small engine that works very hard.

In Compass, the EV engine drives the rear wheels, and gasoline – the front, which allows you to use all-wheel drive. Perhaps to reflect Jeep’s legacy, you can lock it in 4WD mode, and there’s even a low-transmission transmission lock along with sand, snow and mud modes – something no rival offers.

In operation, the hybrid system is the same uncharacteristic as any competitor. Automatic mode controls its operation well, but there are EV and battery saving modes if you prefer to control things yourself. The transition between modes is pretty smooth, with a flashy engine being the most obvious gift.

During a week of varied driving and with regular charging, the Compass returned about 60 miles per gallon. It’s smaller than the Ford Kuga, but pretty much similar to our results from other PHEVs of similar size. Ride it with a discharged battery for any period of time, and as with competitors, you’ll find that at best it drops to the mid-40s.

The interior space is decent, although the generous legroom at the rear is definitely due to the front. What is not so decent is the quality of the cabin. In terms of design, it is as soft as the Coldplay album, and like the Coldplay album, the quality of the material is not very high, with cheap leather and some plastic finish.

The “S” specification of our test car has brought a reasonable level of equipment, including adaptive cruise control with automatic dipped headlights, dual-zone climate control, wireless phone charging and an improved interior and exterior trim package. Unfortunately, it also brought a 10.25-inch screen with a painfully sluggish operating system and the worst driver assistance technology I’ve experienced in a long time.

The lane guide is too sensitive and inaccurate and can’t be completely turned off – you’ll be left with a nagging vibration, even if you stop it by trying to drag you all the way. What’s worse, the announcement of the front-end collision is frighteningly paranoid, and even in the least sensitive setting starts yelling at you almost at the moment that everything ahead starts to slow down.

Euro NCAP puts prices on cars when they don’t have such systems, but in the case of Jeep it really is worth offering extra points to get rid of its ADAS.

Other than this hated technology, Compass is largely unremarkable. Its appearance is a straight SUV, as well as driving experience. The hybrid setup works just as well as most of the competitors, and the ride is decent, but it doesn’t stand out. With opponents like Toyota Rav4 /Suzuki Across and the new Sportage PHEV, which impresses with its performance and design, Compass feels it lacks direction.

Price: £ 40,895 (£ 43,575 on inspection); Engine: 1.3-liter, three-cylinder, turbo, petrol with 44 kW electric motor; Power: 237 hp; Torque: n / a; Transmission: Six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive Maximum speed: 124mph; 0-62 miles per hour: 7.3 seconds; Economy: 148.7 miles per gallon; CO2 emissions: 44 g / km; EV range: 30 miles away

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