2009 Jeep Patriot

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Review: 2007 Jeep Patriot

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2014.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

Car-like, but still very much a Jeep, especially with the optional off-road option.
Pros:
  • Retro Jeep styling
  • Decent performance
  • Effective off-road option
Cons:
  • Average highway acceleration
  • Narrow rear door openings
  • Inconvenient rear cupholders

The Jeep line continues to grow with the addition of the new Patriot, which provides car-like civility but has good off-road prowess with its optional off-road option.

The Patriot is the lowest-cost model in the greatly expanded Jeep line. It can be considered a revival of the 1984-2001 compact Jeep Cherokee, which initiated the 4-door mass market for civilian sport-utility vehicles.

The 5-passenger Patriot has more traditional square-line rugged Jeep styling than the rather cute, more rounded Jeep Compass, which also is new. Front- and all-wheel drive are available for the Patriot, which has a tailgate for easy loading and a split-folding rear seat for more cargo room.

The Patriot is built with the Compass and Dodge Caliber compact auto/crossover vehicle at DaimlerChrysler's Belvidere, Ill., assembly plant. Patriot rivals include the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Suzuki Grand Vitara.

Right at Home
Those accustomed to cars should feel right at home in the handily sized Patriot. Its power steering is accurate, handling is reassuring and the suspension provides a supple ride. The brake pedal has a linear action that allows consistently smooth stops.

Jeeps are known for their legendary off-road prowess, and the Patriot all-wheel-drive version can be had with an off-road option that provides good performance away from pavement.

Two Trim Levels
The Patriot comes in Sport and upscale Limited trim levels. List prices range from $14,425 to $21,430.

A 2.4-liter 4-cylnder engine with 172 horsepower is standard. It delivers good performance in town, but average performance above 65 mph. It's mated to a 5-speed manual transmission or to a $1,050 continuously variable automatic (CVT) transmission, which makes it rather lazy off the line.

An available 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 158 horsepower is offered for a $200 credit, but provides less performance and can only be hooked to the CVT.

The 2.0-liter engine doesn't deliver much higher fuel economy than the 2.4, so it hardly seems worth looking at unless you're a fleet vehicle buyer. In fact, it provides the same fuel economy as the 2.4 when the larger engine is hooked to the 5-speed manual gearbox.

Best Transmission
The best transmission for the Patriot is the manual, although most people don't like shifting and thus probably will opt for the CVT. While efficient, the CVT helps cause high engine noise during hard acceleration with either the 2.0 or 2.4 engines, which need lots of revs for the best performance. It makes one wish that Jeep at least offered an optional V6 for the Patriot.

The $605-$800 off-road option for the Limited or Sport comes only with a CVT transmission modified to have low-range gearing and a hill-descent feature. The option includes such items as a raised suspension, tow hook, skid plates and, for the Limited, 17-inch all-terrain white-letter tires.

Lower Off-Road Fuel Economy
The off-road option drops fuel economy with the 2.4 engine to an estimated 21 mpg in the city and 23 on highways—figures that are lower than Patriot figures without it. That's because this option's special final drive ratio for off-road use eats into fuel economy.

The 2.0-liter engine with the regular CVT provides an estimated 26 mpg city and 30 highway. The 2.4 with the manual delivers 26 and 30 with front-wheel drive and 25 and 29 with all-wheel drive. Figures with the 2.4 and regular CVT are 24 and 27 with front-wheel drive and 23 and 26 with all-wheel drive.

The Sport is moderately well-equipped with the 2.4 engine. Its items include front bucket seats, console, tilt steering wheel, AM/FM/CD player, variable intermittent wipers and rear wiper/washer.

Safety Items
The Sport also has standard traction control, side-curtain airbags, anti-lock all-disc brakes and an anti-skid system with rollover sensors. One thus might expect that front-seat side airbags would be standard, but they cost an extra $250.

The better-equipped Limited, which starts at $19,680, adds air conditioning, leather upholstery, heated front seats, cruise control, steering-wheel radio controls, driver-seat height adjustment and fold-flat front passenger seat. It also has power mirrors, windows and door locks with remote entry and wears wider tires on 17-inch (vs. 16-inch) wheels.

Desirable Option
A $2,350 Quick Order option group for the Sport includes air conditioning, height-adjustable driver seat and power mirrors, windows and door locks with remote keyless entry. Many Jeep dealers likely won't order a Sport without that option.

One also can get the $995 Power Group for the Sport with power mirrors, windows and locks with remote entry, but it requires $850 air conditioning.

A $1,395 navigation system (with a 6-disc CD changer) is among the most expensive stand-alone options for the Limited.

Generally Roomy
The Patriot weighs 3,108 to 3,326 pounds, depending on trim level, and rides on a 103.7-inch wheelbase. It's roomy in back, but a hard center seat area is uncomfortable for a third rear occupant.

It's easy to get in or out in front, but narrow door openings complicate entry and exit at the rear. It calls for an awkward reach to get to the rear-seat cupholders because they're placed at the back of the front console near the floor.

Large outside door handles and smaller loop-style inside handles are easily grasped. Rear windows lower all the way to make it easier to, say, be handed food in fast-food outlet drive-through lanes.

Mixed Interior Features
The white-on-black gauges can be quickly read, and the front bucket seats are supportive. The automatic transmission lever conveniently juts from the console area near the dashboard, and simple controls are logically laid out.

Climate controls are large, but notchy. And the turn signal lever has a cheap feel. Radio controls are OK, but the tilt steering wheel is hard to adjust. The interior has lots of hard plastic, but a large "dead pedal" provides a comfortable spot on which a driver can rest his left foot.

The large cargo area has a low, wide opening, and rear seatbacks fold flat to expand it.

The Patriot should appeal to Jeep buyers who like to drive off-road, but also to those who want Jeep styling and utility and never venture off pavement.

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BB03 - 8/20/2014 8:07:17 AM