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Jeep finds new worlds to conquer with its Longitude

Solid, planted and plenty of car for your buck. I am, of course, referring to one of the oldest 4x4 brands on the market - Jeep!

I was given the new Jeep Compass Longitude for a weekend drive, and although it does not offer real 4×4 capacity, it still introduces that familiar Jeep confidence and solidity. Whether one should refer to the Longitude as a softroader is, well, a debate for another day.

It’s all in the grille

Its first distinction in terms of looks is that familiar seven-slot grille at the front, sided by strong arches and body lines. The headlight clusters and black under-bumper area helps to “broaden” the impression of the car. All-round looks are those of a vehicle that offers a robust SUV – not unlike, I think, the Freelander.

Inside

The inside of the Longitude is grownup in the sense that it offers clean and elegant lines with little distractions, and access to all the luxury features like the infotainment touchscreen, which is ergonomic and easy to navigate.

“The new generation Uconnect 7-inch provides a range of available handsfree communication, entertainment and navigation features with a large, among the-best-in-the-segment seven-inch touchscreen that supports multitouch gestures with pinch, tap and swipe capability.”

Jeep’s ParkView Rear Back-Up camera provides a wide-angle view of the area behind the car, inclusive of grid lines which makes for easy – or easier – parking in garages in particular. Various satellite controls are on the steering and, on the reverse of the steering – where one would normally find paddle shifters – you find smaller controls for the radio volume and so on.

Interior space and legroom is premium with broad comfortable seats and good all-round visibility as a result of the ground clearance of the car. Also, rear passengers have access to their own USB and 12V sockets.

One gripe, though – the armrest between the front seats is a little short and cannot be extended forward, like with some other SUVs.

Under the hood

The Longitude is fitted with a 1.4-litre turbo engine producing 125kW and 250Nm and quite lively, considering that it has to propel a large and heavy vehicle. In terms of fuel consumption, no matter my best efforts, I just could not get the fuel consumption below 11,4 liters/100km.

The automatic gearbox is better than that of the previous Jeep I drove in that it does not hunt around as much and downshifts only when it makes sense, and then does so smoothly.

The chassis is firm and confident and really soaks up all the bumps in the road – even through bumpy and tight corners at speed. In combination with the comfortable interior and precise steering, the Longitude presents one with an enjoyable driving experience.

I do, however, suspect that the suspension has been tuned for improved weight carrying, which means that it will perform better with more weight/passengers in the car.

Conclusion

People will buy the Longitude because it is a Jeep. In my mind, though, it does not offer “Americaness” like the Cherokee, the Renegade and the Trailhawk. But that it offers a lot of SUV for your buck is for sure.

Pricing for the Compass starts at R399 900.

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