While in Hawaii, we rented a Jeep Compass from Hertz. Partly because when traveling with a three year old there are lots of extra things to lug around, and partly because it was priced so competitively. Sadly, the week we had with it only served to convince me I would never buy a Jeep Compass.
The Good Parts
Overall, the design is OK and there is plenty of space on the back seat for the car seat & booster, as well as space in the trunk for our lightweight Uppababy stroller, two decent size suitcases and the various backpacks etc we came with. Fitting the car seat using the Latch/ISOFix points was a breeze too. The top tether point was also easily accessible from the back (although having the belt going over the rear seat headrest was a bit odd).
Inside was pretty basic, but it is a rental model so I expected that. The seats were comfortable enough, and the main controls pretty clear. There were steering wheel buttons for the cruise control and the function of the one line display in the dash. Oddly, what I would normally expect to be paddles for gear selection tuned out to be controls for the audio system, but once I’d discovered that, they were convenient enough.
The performance was certainly fine for Hawaii (where speeds are typically low), but it isn’t going to win any races. It wasn’t phased by any of the hills we encountered, and was able to cruise along at 55-60 mph on the roads that allowed such speeds with ease. We did not take it up Mauna Kea however, so I can’t report how well it would handle either steeper climbs or the thinner air of higher altitudes.
The Not So Good
Maybe this was something failing on the rental car we had, but the transmission was very noisy compared to other cars I’ve driven. Once I discovered the lever to disable 4WD, the noise lessened, but there was still a fair amount of whine at times. At slow speeds it did not sound very reassuring at all, but it kept going.
Rear visibility is terrible. This is one car you should never park front-in at a busy parking lot. It was hard to see things right behind you, and impossible to see what was just to the left or right behind the car. If ever a vehicle needed a backup camera, it is this one. Sadly, it didn’t even have a screen, let alone a camera.
Maybe this is a factor of the cars we drive at home, but I was a bit surprised to find a metal key for the ignition. It did have remote controlled central locking at least, but it felt like going back in time about 20 years.
The lack of a screen, with car functions as well as back up camera and built in navigation was also a bit of a surprise. Though car rental places like to sell navigation as an option, so not having that screen may well be a Hertz specification, if that’s the only way to exclude navigation as well.