► 240hp, 30-mile electric range
► Interior surprisingly good
► A less compromised Wrangler?
Italians are an odd bunch. They brought the world the Age of Discovery and pasta and on the surface they're ultra fashionable. But when I was on holiday in Sicily everyone from Catania to Palermo was drinking Tennents Super lager.
Case in point. The best-selling PHEV in Italy is the Jeep Compass 4xe. To my eyes it's an awkward looking thing. Design flourishes like the grille and front lights make it look mean, but it's not large enough to ever complete the imposing aesthetic. The 17-inch alloys on Trailhawk cars look like castor wheels too.
Maybe Jeep's success is because of its sponsorship of Juventus? Perhaps the sight of Zebre (and Italy) captain Giorgio Chiellini's broad shoulders and handsome face is enough to bag a few sales over there.
What's it like?
Square. Chiseled. Great beard with a trustworthy face. I bet he'd really know how to hold you. Oh...the car.
The Compass 4xe borrows the plug-in hybrid system from the Renegade 4xe. That means 237bhp and a 0-62 mph time of 7.3 seconds. Petrol engine powers the front, battery powers the rear. Official mpg is around 155, expect much less in day-to-day life with no battery.
Compared with the old Jeep Compass, it's a huge improvement. The interior especially feels and looks much more European. Which it is, as this model is being built in Italy.
No matter which spec you choose, there's a 10.1-inch infotainment screen up front that's fast, responsive, and gets the all-important Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.
Space and storage in the front is good. Loads of elbow room and places to store keys and bottles.
You'll struggle to get three adults in the rear, but the same can be said for most cars in this class.
The boot, at 438 litres, is a fair bit behind rivals. At least the PHEV gubbins don't eat into space.
How does it drive?
It's a very simple thing to drive. The steering is featherlight - a bit over assisted truth be told. But nevertheless, fine for what most Compass customers want.
There's lots of suspension travel and at town speeds it enables the Compass to do a fine job of dismantling the shocks associated with potholes and bumps.
Our Trailhawk spec test car (off-road suspension, five-mode t/c, snow/mud tyres) was noisy and nobbly at motorway speeds. We suspect this would be greatly improved with regular road tyres.
Despite the decent specific power output, it never feels quick. There just doesn't seem to be the zip from low down.
In fully electric mode it's easy-going. Not fast at all, but smooth and with very few annoyances. The petrol engine can be roused into life with a full press of the throttle.
The switch between petrol and electric is not subtle. The dinosaur-powered engine is coarse under high revs too.
Drivers can switch between the power sources in a reassuringly simple way. There are three buttons below the heating controls to help out.
Hybrid lets the computer sort it all out. Electric switches to electric-only mode. And e-save allows you to conserve battery for deployment later. For instance, heading into London for zero-emissions driving, or for full 4WD mode if you're going to yeet it on an off-road course.
The auto 'box is sharp and rarely caught out. There's a Sport mode that makes it ultra alert and keen to stay in gear. We'd avoid it.
The overall range is a bit of an issue. Officially it'll cover 30 miles on pure electric, but that's more like 20-25 miles in real-world application. This is fine for pootling around town and to the shops.
But the petrol engine's range is circa 200-225 miles. Total mileage is less than 300 whichever way you look at it.
This is rubbish. A lot of fully electric SUVs can better that.
Remember you'll need a charged battery to make use of 4WD. Trailhawk spec cars get a five-mode traction control system called Selec-Terrain.
I tried out the modes on an off-road course in East Sussex. They genuinely made a difference to how much spinning the wheels did on spiky rocks and boggy terrain.
Over the course of an hour I didn't get stuck once or even bottom out. Hill descent control was spot on too, constantly adjusting and never being caught out.
The instructor even mentioned that the Compass was easily as competent as something like a Toyota Hilux.
Jeep Compass hybrid: verdict
As a sensible mid-sized crossover the Compass isn't quite as practical as a Hyundai Tucson, as fashionable as a Peugeot 3008, or as good value as a Nissan Qashqai.
But sensible types won't be much interested in it anyway. The Compass, then, is best judged as a less flawed, smaller, cheaper, and less interesting Jeep Wrangler.