Jeep Patriot 2009: Success story!

Published on March 6, 2009 in Test Drives by Antoine Joubert

Okay, so the Patriot may not be as refined as the Honda CR-V, or as powerful as the Volkswagen Tiguan, and it doesn’t even come close to having the interior roominess of the Toyota Rav4. But with a base price that is more than $10,000 less than that of these three rivals, we can be forgiving of certain things. In fact, we should instead say that the Patriot, like its non-identical twin the Compass, doesn’t need forgiveness for anything.

It simply targets a slightly different clientele, one that until now dreamed of owning a small SUV but could only get themselves a compact car. Now that we see how successful this model is, clearly Jeep’s risk has paid off. A wide array of models and options, enticing lines and an unbeatable price, and there you have it!

The price: A key factor
Launched in 2007, the Patriot was an instant success, and although the press was hard on it because of its disappointing fit and trim, the public could not have cared less. Nevertheless, Jeep thought it wise to redesign the vehicle’s dashboard for 2009, but I’m not sure that sales would have been lower if the old one was still being used. One thing is certain, the Patriot is a polished product of very respectable quality and that offers excellent value for the price.

Thanks to its simultaneously modern and retro lines that evoke the legendary Cherokee, the Patriot will charm you from the get-go. The basic version without any of the bells and whistles is obviously not the most enticing, but its lines are still pleasant. As for the Limited version, alloy rims, silver trim bumper, luggage carrier and tinted windows enhance its look. I would say that, for me, the version tested for this article remains the most attractive. The North Edition accompanied by a $995-options package offers a most pleasant style and very generous equipment, for a price that remains quite reasonable.

The Patriot also offers a pleasant on board environment, albeit more sombre than that of the Jeep Compass. The available space is extremely well suited for four people and comfort is respectable. Passengers in the back even have adjustable seat backs, which the competition does not always offer. The quality of finish has been noticeably improved, but it is still doesn’t compare to that of the leaders in the category.

Compact but practical
Designed on the basis of the Dodge Caliber, the Patriot obviously is not terribly large. However, Jeep managed to create an adjustable passenger compartment that makes an excellent loading capacity possible. There is a rear bench that folds flat in two sections as well as a front passenger seat that also folds flat. However, the fixed rear head rests that limit the storage space between the back of the front seats and the rear bench.

Under the hood, the 2.4-litre four-cylinder does a good job, providing respectable performances, well distributed torque and fuel efficiency remains for the most part under 10 litres per 100 kilometres. In cold weather (average -16?C), the 4x4 version with standard transmission that we tested consumed only 9.8 litres per 100 kilometres.

The five-speed standard transmission is still more attractive than the continuously variable automatic, which had an unimpressive output. Not only does this automatic transmission hurt vehicle performance, but it increases fuel consumption by about 10%. By the way, by opting for a base model or a two-wheel drive North, equipped with this transmission, you will get a factory standard 2.0-litre engine with 158-hp instead of 172-hp. In this case, performances are nothing to write home about, but this configuration helps obtain a fuel efficiency that is almost the same as that of the version with a 2.4-litre engine and a manual transmission.

Trail Rated…
Jeep only puts the Trail Rated logo on the version with the CVT2 continuously variable transmission with a crawl ratio feature. We put this version to the test and its off-road capabilities are truly surprising. Obviously, you can’t expect it to perform like a Wrangler, but the 4x4 version did the Jeep name proud. Its suspension travel is rather impressive while its weight helps it climb slopes that are at once steep and uneven.

On the road, the vehicle demonstrates good stability with the agility of a compact car. Its steering could be a tad less sluggish but otherwise this little Jeep shows nice balance. In fact, the only potential problem might be endurance, since the low fuel light appears after a distance of only 400 kilometres. It must be said that the tank is no larger than that of a Honda Civic, which explains everything…

The Chrysler group hit a bull’s eye with its pair of small SUVs, which has not always been the case with its other products (this means you, Liberty). In the case of the Patriot, the customer is sure to come out a winner. The only question now is whether the clientele will be able to put up with the financing terms, since leasing is no longer an option.

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