• Jeep Compass Trailhawk first drive review

For a premium over the Compass S, the Trailhawk takes you further offroad

Early last year Ed and I took the Jeep Compass 4x4 S on some trails. While it impressed with its 4WD abilities, it seemed to be held back by its front bumper, which limited the SUV’s approach angle. A year later, as I gingerly take the updated Compass Trailhawk over a rocky outcrop, it seems like deja vu. This time my fears seem unfounded though. The Trailhawk simply sails through without any drama. So the Trailhawk is the more hardcore Compass and asks for a sizeable premium over the top-spec S variant. I tried finding out how much further it can take you.

Looks the part

The Trailhawk sets itself apart from the standard Compass by looking more hardcore with its aggressive bumpers and different wheels (smaller, 17-inchers with taller sidewalls). It also gets cool-looking black and red ‘Trailhawk’ stickering on the bonnet, red ‘Trail Rated’ badges on the fenders, a ‘Trailhawk’ logo at the back and even a red tow hook. These accents go well with the grey paintjob and help the Trailhawk stand out. The paintjob also seems to make the Trailhawk look smaller than our long term Compass S, also courtesy the aggressive-looking front bumper and taller stance.

Inside, the Trailhawk logo features on the black leather seats in red stitching. The all-black interiors are identical to the standard Compass that got a comprehensive update last year and help the Trailhawk look very premium. You get soft-touch plastics, a 10.1-inch floating touchscreen and 10.25- inch digital instrument cluster display.

Despite the more hardcore positioning, the Trailhawk does not skimp on the luxurious feel of the standard Compass. The exhaustive feature list has also been carried over directly, so both front seats are electrically adjustable besides which you get features like wireless charging and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof and ventilated front seats.

The switchable views and amount of information offered by the instrument cluster is very impressive too. The 360-degree view has been carried over too but the cameras on our test car switched off at times, making it unnerving while trying to clear an obstacle.

Power on tap

The Trailhawk is offered only with the 2.0-litre MultiJet diesel engine, mated to the nine-speed automatic gearbox, both straight off the standard Compass. Outputs are the same, 170PS and 350Nm, the latter available from just 1,750rpm. This ensures there’s enough low end grunt on trails.

The Trailhawk also gets dedicated 4WD Low and 4WD switches. Besides Sand/ Mud, Snow and Auto terrain modes, the Trailhawk also gets Rock mode. Also, first gear has been replaced with a low ratio to get out of sticky situations and in normal conditions, the Trailhawk is programmed to take off in second gear directly.

The system keeps the SUV in higher gears with softened throttle inputs to prevent slippage in Snow while Sand/Mud regulate throttle inputs and torque to optimise traction. Rock mode engages low ratio and differential locks to offer maximum torque at low speeds. It also lets you to use hill descent control which applies the brakes automatically on steep slopes.

In normal driving conditions the Trailhawk drives just like the Compass S, albeit in a slightly less hurried manner. The diesel engine offers plenty of shove, while the nine-speed gearbox masks turbo lag brilliantly. So like the standard Compass, the Trailhawk is a brilliant mile muncher too!


The Trailhawk’s reprofiled bumpers and increased 205mm ground clearance give it an improved approach, ramp-over and departure angle of 30, 24 and 34 degrees respectively. It can thus climb over obstacles without scraping anything. And in case you do, underbody skid plates ensure so that you do not damage anything.

The 17-inch wheels (standard Compass runs on 18-inch ones) are shod with higher profile, Falken Wildpeak HT tyres. They have a more aggressive tread profile but I feel all-terrain tyres would suit the Trailhawk better, visually and in terms of suitability too. The suspension has been tuned to take abuse and affects low speed ride quality slightly, though the ride gets better as you go faster. Handling is unaffected though and the Trailhawk is quite the highway SUV.


At Rs 30.72 lakh ex-showroom, the Trailhawk is expensive, but also boasts a great mix of performance, off-road ability, long-distance comfort and features while feeling properly premium. The standard Compass is very impressive overall, but if it isn’t enough, then the Trailhawk is the one for you.


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