No matter how much cess or ban or whatever illogical obstacles come in the way of SUVs, we keep buying them and we will do so even more in the future. The fact that our roads in some places cannot be called roads and when few drops of rain turns Gurgaon (sorry, Gurugram) into Venice, it is hard not to fall for the charms of an SUV with its extra ground clearance and a commanding view of the road. Unless you have been hiding in a cave all this while, you would know plenty about our two SUVs here today. So I would save the lengthy introduction and dive straight into the comparo.
The Jeep Compass is undoubtedly the car of the moment and while many SUVs and crossovers exist, its biggest rival comes in form of the Tucson. The Creta top-end is cheaper than the base model Compass and even with its engines, it is not a fair comparo. So what we are looking for is a good looking 5-seater SUV which does not feel like an elephant to manoeuvre in the city yet is also at home when it comes to the rough stuff. Yes, under rs 25 lakh these are the top SUVs to buy, we think, so a comparo seems a fair deal.
Both these two approach the SUV design from different directions. The Tucson in the flesh reveals its size while the Compass looks more compact. One look at the dimensions and the Tucson is longer and wider but the Compass has more ground clearance. Design wise both are different and reveal their priorities. The Tucson is handsome and has a lot of presence, in-fact it is the best iteration of the Hyundai design language in face of the more sober Creta. The huge hexagonal grille dominates while the slim yet nicely designed headlamps catch your eye with the 18 inch wheels filling in the wheel arches nicely. While the front is nice, the rear is a bit too similar to the Elite i20 but overall the Tucson has presence while making no bones about its crossover intentions.
The Compass is a different kettle of fish. Rugged and being a more butch design, this is an SUV that captures your attention with Jeep having successfully kept the original brand DNA. It is compact as said earlier but the details are superb with not even one bad angle. It is basically a mini Grand Cherokee with its cladding, seven slot grille, muscular wheel arches and being generally devoid of curves. Even the rear is well designed in keeping with its simple but rugged ethos. Put in snazzy colours like blue along with the contrast roof option and the Compass is a rockstar, garnering plenty of attention. One of the best looking SUVs at this price.
Inside the Compass feels rugged with a luxury vibe. The design is minimalistic with quality being very good with a built to last feel. I especially like the door lock sound which is tank like! I also like the white leather upholstery (a pain to clean) and the chunky leather wrapped steering wheel feels great to hold. My favourite part though is the aluminium gear knob. However I would like a bigger touchscreen plus in front of the Tucson, the Compass feels a bit compact from the inside. The rear is more suited for two passengers and the door pockets are too small with storage being limited.
The Tucson feels bigger and more airy inside. The black and beige combo works well with the design being pleasing to the eye if a bit more car like. The touchscreen is bigger here and also the rear seat can fit three easily plus storage is better. Quality just as you would expect in a Rs 20 lakh plus car is very good but unlike the Compass with its rugged and tank like feel, the Tucson is more luxurious car-like.
In terms of features the Compass covers the essentials that you look for in a car of this price but here the emphasis is on the Jeep being a true off-roader instead of a crossover thus few features have been skimped. However you have Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, rear ac vents, 7 inch touchscreen, rear camera display with active turn signals, push button start/stop, electric parking brake. The more interesting features include an inbuilt Compass, the Selec-Terrain system, Hill-start assist, all season tyres. Yes some kit like sunroof, powered seats and auto headlamps are missing. Do note that the 6-seaker audio system in the Compass is superb and any audiophile would be happy.
The Tucson on the other hand gets more features like a powered drivers seat, rear ac vents, 8 inch touchscreen, push button start/stop, cruise control, cooled glovebox, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, rear camera with sensors, powered tail-gate, hill start assist etc. Only thing missing is a sunroof and the cooled seats which is there in a Verna! In terms of safety both gets 6 airbags and plenty of safety kit.
Onto the driving
Both come with diesel and petrol engines however this comparo is about the diesels so lets get going. The Compass gets a 2.0 Multijet diesel with 171 bhp and 350Nm. A six-speed manual is standard while there is no automatic option on the diesel though of course there is 4x4 here. The Tucson also gets a 2.0 diesel with 182 bhp and 400Nm. There is no 4x4 yet on the Tucson but you have a 6-speed automatic along with a 6-speed manual.
Compass first and immediately unlike the rattly 1.3 diesel, this 2.0 feels way more smoother and refined. There is none of the lag there and power delivery is smoother which means less gearshifts in the city. Best soak in the wave of torque and you can potter around in the Compass in traffic, driving it like an automatic. The gearshift itself is superb- weighty but precise with a light clutch to boot. Performance is strong and lag is well controlled with power available nice and early. It cruises brilliantly in the highway and sits at triple digit speeds with ease.
More praise comes in for the steering which is surprisingly direct and gives a lot of feedback. For an electric power steering it is one of the best I have seen. And it does not stop, the Frequency sensitive dampers, gives the Compass a serious edge here and it does not swallow bumps and potholes but bludgeons them. Its silent too giving a polished driving experience on the other hand there is a bit of roll around the corners but its an accomplished handler alright with good grip levels. One advantage is of course 4x4, most of the time, power is sent to front, but when needed the Compass sends power to rear too. There is no low-range but the Compass is accomplished off-road plus the Selec-Terrain gives you modes for different types of surface and weather with (Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud).
The Tucson feels quicker when you jump in and that is cause of the more horses and the autobox. The masses of torque and the smooth auto means within few minutes you do not realise how quick you are going. This 2.0 diesel is a belter for sure. The gearbox does its job very well and you get power available effortlessly. It also feels slightly more refined here. It also has drive modes with the Sport mode on its very quick indeed. Behind the wheel it shrinks in size and the automatic does make it easier to live with. The steering though is typical Hyundai light and the suspension is bit too soft with delivering a good ride but having body roll. The Tucson is also more efficient though as we got 13 kmpl vs 10 in the Compass.
Before we start, here is a caveat, both these two are the best 5-seater full sized SUVs that you can buy below Rs 25 lakh. Full stop. Thus in our book, both are winners. However after spending a couple of days in both, some conclusions as always are to be drawn. The Tucson is the practical choice and hugely underrated in my opinion. It is more spacious, feels quicker and effortless, has more equipment plus of course the Hyundai sales network is a strength. The diesel automatic Tucson is the one to buy in the range and for many the inclusion of the automatic will seal the deal cause when spending this much on an SUV, people want an auto. Mind you the Tucson is a fair bit more expensive than the Compass with a starting price of Rs 18.5 lakh to Rs 24.5 lakh for the top-spec diesel auto. There is no 4x4 yet and its audience is clear being a tarmac friendly crossover that ticks the right boxes.
The Compass when launched shocked everyone with its pricing-even me. It is superb value and offers a lot. Current prices start at Rs 15 lakh while the top-end diesel 4x4 as shown here is Rs 21 lakh. It does not have the space of the Tucson or the equipment or the smooth auto but it fights back with more flair and it stays true to its roots. We love the styling, the ride and it is so much fun off-road but its also useable on-road.
Thus while the Tucson aces as a luxury crossover the Compass is for the beaten path but also has enough competence to make it a useable daily. Yup, you get the drift, the Compass with its Jeep brand will draw buyers and many will not mind some features missing or an autobox for its endearing personality and driving experience. So yes as much as it seems am taking the easy way out, both will appeal to different set of customers with the Compass towards the rugged end while the Tucson leans towards the crossover end. However mark our words, these two are the best 5-seater SUVs you can buy right now below Rs 25 lakh.
Photography- Rajeev Bhendwal