The options are starting to seem endless, and the deals thrown into the buying public’s faces are bewildering. So it is slightly comforting to know that even among all that noise we are still creatures of habit. Still over 70 per cent of the sector is powered by a diesel, still most want two-wheel-drive but some would like the option of four.
It's into this crowded but conforming landscape that Jeep are throwing their new Compass, a car aimed at establishing FCA's most rugged brand strongly into the European smaller car market. The old Compass was a little difficult to deal with, the styling cues were taken from the Wrangler and squeezed onto a more conventional car. The new model sensibly moves away from the rugged Wrangler and its particular niche of buyers, and back toward the now rather stylish and (as Jeep say) status-driven Cherokee.
The Compass is now a miniature Cherokee, the traditional seven-point Jeep grille sits in a purposeful, slightly aggressive face. Strong shoulders blend the front to the rear and the two-tone paint options on the roof wrap around what looks like a surprising amount of glass. The Jeep is not a tall car when you stand near it, but the height is emphasised in the looks by strong, squared wheel arches. This gives the Jeep a taller vision and Jeep will hope this appeals to those who enter this sector looking for a little more safety over the traditional hatch.
Inside the strong aesthetic continues. While the steering wheel is 100 per cent Jeep the rest appears more European in its styling, with swathes of tactile black plastics wrapping round a well thought out touchscreen infotainment system. It's a step up in quality from Jeep that is needed to take on the likes of Renault's excellent Captur and the runaway success of the Nissan Juke.