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The Jeep Patriot is unmistakably a Jeep, with its squared-off lines, seven-slot grille, and round headlights. The Patriot and its sibling, the Jeep Compass, are based on a car platform, but still can deliver impressive off-road capabilities.
The four-door Patriot has plenty of room inside. There's 39.4 inches of legroom for rear-seat passengers, the 60/40-split rear seat folds flat, and a flat-folding front passenger seat is optional; with all the seats flat, you can slide an eight-foot kayak inside, for example.
There are two available engines. The larger of the two, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, makes 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque, is EPA-rated at 23 mpg City, 28 mpg Highway with the manual transmission, and is standard equipment. It delivers good power; put the pedal down while cruising uphill at 75 miles per hour and it will accelerate. The smaller engine is 2.0 liters, makes 158 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque and is EPA-rated at 23/29 mpg with the manual transmission. The optional Continuously Variable Transaxle works well and we found the Auto Stick manual-shift feature useful.
We found the Patriot light and nimble on twisty roads and when maneuvering around town. Turn-in is sharp. The body is well isolated from the wheels: You can hear the tires hitting the expansion strips on the freeway, but you can't feel it. The independent suspension works well. During a long day of driving on patchy two-lanes, hard-packed dirt roads, sandy off-road trails, shallow rivers and deep gullies, it delivered steadiness and comfort in every abusive situation.
The Patriot is available with front-wheel drive or a choice of two all-wheel-drive systems, one that Jeep qualifies as Trail Rated. Those who like to go off-road should choose the Trail Rated Freedom II AWD system. With the CVT in low range, Hill Descent Control is automatically engaged. This keeps the Patriot under 5 mph and under control, going down steep hills, even icy ones. You can take both feet off the pedals and it will do its thing, a feature associated with expensive Land Rovers.
Changes for 2010 are minimal. There are driver and front-passenger active head restraints, and some changes to the available options.
The Jeep Patriot comes in two trim levels, Sport and Limited, with a choice of front-wheel drive (2WD) and two all-wheel drive (AWD) systems. The two engine choices, of 2.4 and 2.0 liters, are all-aluminum, with variable valve timing that optimizes power, torque, and efficiency, and balance shafts to enhance smoothness. The smaller engine delivers slightly better fuel economy, but is not available with the Limited trim level. A continuously variable automatic transaxle (CVT) is optional. It can be ordered with the Auto Stick manual shiftgate ($1,100) or an off-road crawl axle ratio ($1,050).
The Patriot Sport 2WD ($17,795) and AWD ($19,545) have cloth upholstery, air conditioning, outside-temperature indicator, AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary audio jack and four speakers, 60/40-split rear seat, tilt steering column, roof rails, and P205/70R16 all-season tires on steel wheels. AWD models also have a locking center differential and four-wheel antilock disc brakes.
Options include the Sport E Package ($2,170) with Yes Essentials stain-repellant cloth upholstery; cruise control; power windows, mirrors and door locks with remote keyless entry; height-adjustable driver's seat; fold-flat front passenger seat; reclining rear seat; and a 115-volt power outlet. The Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package ($1,315) features a brake-lock differential, low-range gearing, Hill Descent Control, heavy-duty alternator and engine cooling, interior air filter, height-adjustable driver's seat, fog lights, skid plates, full-size spare tire and P215/65R17 all-terrain white-letter tires on alloy wheels. The Sun and Sound group ($1,295) includes a sunroof, two articulating liftgate speakers, six Boston Acoustics speakers, a subwoofer and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. Standalone options include a six-CD changer ($350), front side airbags ($250), and P215/65R17 tires on alloy wheels ($590).
The Patriot Limited 2WD ($22,800) and AWD ($24,550) add cruise control; leather upholstery; heated front seats; height-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment; fold-flat front passenger seat; leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; Sirius satellite radio; power windows, mirrors and locks; remote keyless entry; rear privacy glass; fog lamps; four-wheel disc brakes; and P215/60R17 tires on alloy wheels. The AWD model also gets a locking center differential.
Options for the Limited include a Security and Cargo Convenience group ($1,235) with front side airbags, daytime running lights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, alarm, roof rack, cargo tonneau cover and Jeep's UConnect wireless cell phone link. Other options include an AM/FM/CD with Sirius satellite radio, auto-dimming rearview mirror, wireless cell phone link, and Jeep's UConnect GPS with hard-drive-based radio and navigation system with real-time traffic information ($1,285). The Freedom Drive II package costs $825 for the AWD Limited.
Safety features on all Patriot models include dual front airbags, head-protecting curtain side airbags, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control, electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, and active front head restraints. Torso-protecting front side impact airbags are an option we recommend.
The Patriot is unmistakably a Jeep, and looks more like a Jeep than the stylish Grand Cherokee or its sibling, the Compass. The windshield and backlight are relatively vertical. The tailgate does not have separate opening glass.
Up front, the iconic seven-slot grille is flanked by round headlights. The bumpers are defined and not molded into the fascia. They're silver on the Limited and body color on the Sport; we think the Sport is cleaner looking.
The Jeep Patriot is considered a compact, although it looks larger. It's almost exactly the same size as the Compass but it looks more rugged, lacking the rounded edges of the gentrified Compass. It's classic Jeep, the way a Jeep should be.
The standard wheels are steel. Attractive aluminum wheels are standard on the Limited model and optional for the Sport. The vehicle looks much better with the aluminum wheels.
The seating position is high in the Patriot; with the upright windshield, the forward visibility inspires confidence. The Jeep Patriot Sport's standard front seats have manual adjustment and come with cloth upholstery. They're OK, but the optional material called YES Essentials, which is stain, odor and static resistant, fits this Jeep's character better. The leather upholstery in the Limited is great, but it seems to overdress the Patriot.
The cabin layout is functional and roomy. The black dashboard and instrument layout is simple, and the gauges are a tidy white on black with glowing orange needles. The climate and sound system controls are easy to understand and operate. Jeep says the available UConnect Tunes system can hold up to 6700 songs, which can be ripped from a CD or USB memory stick. We thought the doors sounded kind of tinny when they were closed.
The space between the seats includes a nook for change or cell phones, two fixed cupholders, and the parking brake lever. The center console is split for two levels of storage and is now padded.
The door pockets are on the small side, but they can hold six CD cases; much of the space is taken up by the six- by nine-inch speakers. The door handles are easy to use. There's a nice tray over the good-sized glove compartment that's big enough for books.
The standard rear seat is a 60/40 split. It folds flat easily. Simply flip up the seat cushion and flop down the seatback. Reclining rear seats are optional, as is a flat-folding front seat. With the rear seats folded flat, there's a spacious 54.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Fold down the passenger seat, and the Patriot has room for something eight feet long. With all the seats in use there's 23 cubic feet in the back, comparable with any compact SUV. The cargo area has a removable carpeted floor.
The Jeep Patriot's 2.4-liter engine works well. It has good power, with 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque, and is responsive where it needs to be. You can be going uphill at 75 miles per hour, and it will still accelerate. Our only criticism is that it sounds gruff under heavy throttle.
The 2.0-liter engine offers slightly better fuel economy, but, for the minimal price difference, we recommend the 2.4-liter.
The five-speed manual gearbox is a joy to use, even with its long throws. The lever comes out of the center stack above the driver's right knee, an improvement over being on the floor near the right thigh. The five-speed makes the Patriot feel like a Jeep. Properly used, it brings out the potential of the engine.
The suspension works well in all conditions. We gave it a good test over a 20-mile stretch of dirt road: Hard-packed, potholed, a layer of loose dust, lots of uphill and downhill curves. The Patriot was stable and confident. We drove fast, and used the brakes hard; the ABS frequently activated on the slippery dust, with the all-season (not all-terrain) tires. We aimed for some of the potholes, including a 50-foot-long row of little ones. The independent suspension eagerly ate them up. Along came a washboard surface, and the Patriot stayed true. We hit an elevated cattle crossing at 30 miles per hour and tensed for an impact that never came. The Patriot did a great job in these conditions.
On paved country roads the Patriot feels light and nimble. The ride is steady over rough asphalt patches. The body feels well isolated and you can hit a bump with one wheel without your head being tossed.
We finally found the limit of the suspension, when we hit a big dip in the middle of a curve at a high rate of speed for the corner. The Patriot struggled to remain stable, but succeeded.
We also drove a Patriot with the trail-rated Freedom Drive II off-road package. It adds one inch to the ground clearance for a total of 9 inches, allowing a 29-degree approach angle, a 33-degree departure angle, a 23-degree breakover angle, and enabling the Patriot to ford 19 inches of water, that last part thanks to more body sealing and higher drivetrain vents. Both AWD systems have a locking center differential that sends half the power to the rear wheels. They also have a brake lock differential that can shift the power from side to side on each axle, important in slippery terrain. The Freedom II package also gives the CVT a low range with a ratio of 19:1, good for crawling over obstacles.
We tested the Freedom Drive II combination on an off-road trail in the Arizona desert, led by a member of the local Jeep club. We crossed some ridges and ditches that raised one front or one rear wheel two feet in the air. It felt effortless, as the Patriot just slowly and securely picked its way over. We made a sharp U-turn that showed off the tight turning radius. In a sand pit, the off-road brake traction control dabbed the brakes of the slipping wheel or wheels, and pulled the Jeep through.
The Freedom II package includes Hill Descent Control that is automatically engaged when in Low range on steep downhill grades. It keeps the Jeep under 5 mph and under control, going down steep hills, even icy ones. You can take both feet off the pedals and it will do its thing. It's a great setup.
We hit a sandy gulley and floored it, racing up to 45 mph, engine screaming at nearly redline with our foot on the floor, and the CVT stayed in low range because it's usable up to about 45 mph. The main thing is, driving flat-out in a straight line over the washboard surface, with the wheels bouncing every which direction, the Patriot remained controllable, responsive and tracked true. We hit a couple of washboard curves, trusting in the stability control to keep the Jeep from bashing into the rocks, and it did. Below 35 mph, the ESP only uses the brakes to keep the Jeep on the line; above 35 it also cuts the throttle, if necessary.
The Jeep Patriot offers off-road capability in a compact SUV with a capable four-cylinder engine that gets an EPA-rated 23/28 mpg. The suspension is stable and comfortable, and cargo capacity is useful because all the passenger seats can easily fold flat. Those positives are offset by build quality that is not the best and an interior with a somewhat plastic feel to it.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Sam Moses filed this report from Scottsdale, Arizona, with correspondent Kirk Bell reporting from Chicago.
Build and price your dream Jeep Patriot in just a few easy steps.
|Build & Price|
2014 Jeep Patriot$13,895 | 27,384 mi
2014 Jeep Patriot$14,915 | 27,663 mi
2014 Jeep Patriot$14,915 | 28,929 mi
2014 Jeep Patriot$14,986 | 9,550 mi
2014 Jeep Patriot$14,988 | 32,420 mi
2014 Jeep Patriot$15,981 | 31,330 mi
2014 Jeep Patriot$16,687 | 25,840 mi
2014 Jeep Patriot$17,862 | 11,956 mi
2014 Jeep Patriot$17,900 | 7,503 mi
2014 JEEP PATRIOT$18,995 | 25,749 mi
2014 Jeep Patriot$19,991 | 14,541 mi
2014 Jeep Patriot$21,978 | 3,766 mi
2014 Jeep Patriot$21,979 | 13,301 mi
2014 Jeep Patriot$23,978 | 2,503 mi
2013 Jeep Patriot$11,990 | 51,810 mi
2013 Jeep Patriot$14,799 | 37,759 mi
2013 Jeep Patriot$16,292 | 19,270 mi
2013 Jeep Patriot$20,878 | 16,289 mi
2013 Jeep Patriot$22,987 | 14,415 mi
2012 Jeep Patriot$15,661 | 27,211 mi
2012 Jeep Patriot$15,900 | 31,731 mi
2011 Jeep Patriot$16,598 | 20,834 mi
2011 Jeep Patriot$16,988 | 31,029 mi
2011 Jeep Patriot$18,000 | 48,279 mi
2009 Jeep Patriot$8,850 | 99,775 mi
2009 Jeep Patriot$9,501 | 64,992 mi
2009 Jeep Patriot$11,656 | 104,525 mi
2009 Jeep Patriot$11,995 | 77,566 mi
We have information you must know before you buy the Patriot.
We want to send it to you, along with other pricing insights.
We will not spam you, and will never sell you email.