$25,150 – $33,000
Good: Good value for money; confident styling – we like the flat side profile combined with the muscular jutting out wheel arches and the retro five-spoke alloy wheel design (standard on the Limited grade); balance between on and off road ability.
Not so Good: Rear seat legroom is only average; limited cargo space with the rear seats up; only one engine on offer (and no turbo diesel).
Design and Engineering
Good : With looks that bare more than a trace to a friendly bulldog (just look at that front end!?), the Jeep Patriot launched Down Under in August 2007 as the American brand’s first ever player in the ever popular compact SUV segment. Whilst lacking a little polish, thankfully the mid life facelift (arriving early in October 2009) has improved a number of issues we previously had with the Patriot. Largish 17 inch alloys are now standard on both grades and contribute to the Patriot’s confidant stance.
Not so good : Whilst the overall shape is definitely spot on for a vehicle with some off-road credentials (we like the short front and rear overhangs and the tough angular wheel arches), the bluff front end with the two ‘startled’ looking headlights and oversized grille is polarising. This isn’t any fence sitter – you’ll either like or dislike.
Interior and Styling
Good: A nicer place to spend time in than the pre facelift Patriot. The new circular air vent design and higher quality upper dashboard plastics lift the ambience. The front seats are comfortable; however the steering wheel (leather trimmed on both grades) adjusts for reach but not rake. Space up front is good (however in the second row legroom is only average).
Not so good : But let’s not get too excited, the interior is still somewhat off the pace of the segment best (i.e. compare the dials, buttons and instruments against the competing Volkswagen Tiguan and you’ll quickly see which one feels more premium). Rear cargo space is on the small side for this sized segment of vehicle (however when not in use the split fold rear bench can be folded flat down – creating easily enough space to carry a mountain bike), the lack of rear space is a price to pay for the short exterior overhangs which contribute to a more muscular look from behind (especially compared to a Nissan X-Trail with it’s larger rump).
Good: The 2.4L four cylinder petrol engine generates a decent 125kW of power and 220Nm of Torque (on ball with the top selling players in this competitive segment); the engine staying refined in both a variety of urban and highway settings. The Sport grade offers the sole manual, with the far more popular automatic transmission (technically a CVT transmission) offered in both the Sport and Limited grade. It’s a smooth shifting unit, no disappointments here.
Not so good : Loaded with five up and baggage in the rear you’d never call the Patriot fast, in this situation one wishes for greater torque (unfortunately just what the deleted turbo diesel grade offered). Throw in some hills as well = a less than happy engine that unfortunately will be heard from inside the cabin.
Ride and Handling
Good: Decent ground clearance and a 4WD system with a locking mode, ensures the Patriot is towards the front of the compact SUV segment when heading onto rougher terrain.
Thankfully, on-road ride AND handling also gets the thumbs up. The ride stays relatively composed over a wide variety of our countries tarmac quality, the suspension copes with average sized potholes and cat eyes (side of road ground lights) nicely. The steering feels secure and is sensibly geared (turns to lock).
Not so good : Again with a reference to the competing Tiguan – the Patriot can’t match the handling slickness of the segment’s best and that big bluff front end creates more wind noise than ideal.
Buying and Owning
Good: Available in two trim levels (Sport and Limited) – both generously featured. Ticks the safety box with 6 airbags, Anti-lock brakes (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control as standard. Thankfully the Patriot comes standard with a full size spare wheel (rather than a temporary ‘space saver’) considering it’s likelihood of travelling to the beach / snow and on adventure holidays.
Not so good : Now petrol powered only (unfortunately the more economical Turbo Diesel grade was put out to pasture in 2009); fuel economy is slightly better than the average figure for a petrol powered compact SUV, however a combined average figure of 9.1L (CVT auto transmission) can’t match that of competing turbo diesel powered offerings.