A timely reminder of what’s out there now that the coronavirus lockdown has eased. We take the wheel of the Jeep Compass TrailHawk
Finding a way to get a jalopy from A – B just for the fun of it is what adventuring is all about, remember that!? And now that air travel is more perilous than locking yourself in a tanning bed as you suck on a can of Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), you’re going to need to get used to driving everywhere if you want to get out the house. But rarely does a car make us question our sanity and want to call the whole drive off. Just for a moment the Jeep Compass TrailHawk was that car.
Somewhere outside Caledon on Route 62 is where it happened. Time felt like it stopped, nay, it felt like it was thrown into reverse. Plodding along at 110 km/h the Compass sits unerringly at 3 500 rpm. It has a 9-speed automatic gearbox but so painstaking and poorly judged are its shifts that watching paint dry would be more indulgent. It dips into ninth gear as often as a local will swim in the frigid waters of Cape Town’s Atlantic seaboard – which is to say rarely. Boy, it’s gutless on road. It feels ancient mechanically, really it does.
There is absolutely nothing to suggest that this heap will conquer a 4×4 track. Which is worrisome considering our plans in the Wilderness. Our mission is plain and simple: the Louvain Oxwagon 4×4 trail. A route which connects the upper Langkloof Valley with the Seven Passes road in Wilderness. The owner recommends we tackle the route from the ‘farm side’ down to Wilderness, and not vice versa as we intend to. We assure the owner it’ll be fine; we’re in a trail-rated Jeep after all. No one seems reassured by this, least of all us, if we’re honest. However, its 4×4 credentials do speak volumes: a 26.5-degree approach angle, breakover of 21.2 degrees, and departure of 31.6 degrees. The TrailHawk is 30 mm higher off the ground, bringing the total clearance to 216 mm and the low-range transfer case has a brilliant 20:1 crawler gear.
The trail starts easily enough, light climbing on old forestry tracks that crisscross the valleys around the Langkloof. Forty minutes in and the rocky track starts; easily a Grade 3 route with sections definitely edging up to Grade 4. Rock mode and 4WD Lock (diff lock) are called upon from the Selec-Terrain system and she starts climbing like a little mountain goat. The gutless engine we moaned about all the way from Cape Town finally comes good.
Gepostet von Ray Leathern am Montag, 30. März 2020
The 2.4-litre naturally aspirated four cylinder may only deliver 129 kW; which is hardly hi-tech, but perfect in this environment, lending linear power delivery to throttle input, allowing for exact speed control over dangerous, jagged rocks. After the horrors on tar, the Compass TrailHawk outdoes itself in the wild. There are zero criticisms for its 4×4 abilities, and you’d be challenged to find a better off-roading SUV at the price.
As the TrailHawk name suggests, it’s simply brilliant on a trail. But you’ve been warned about its on-road manners.