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2009 Jeep Patriot Review

by The Review CrewMay 30, 2010

Introduction

Jeep introduced the Compass and the Patriot, two small car-based crossover vehicles, for 2007. Both are based on the Dodge Caliber hatchback, which itself is built on a Mitsubishi platform. Whereas the Compass looks like the love-child of a Mazda 3 and a half-used bar of soap, the Patriot looks much like the Jeep Cherokee of the ’80s and ’90s. Blocky styling, round headlights, and the classic Jeep grille give the Patriot a tough appearance that is missing on its Compass twin.

The toughness of the Patriot isn’t just skin-deep. Although front-wheel drive is standard, there are two available all-wheel-drive systems. One of the Patriot’s optional all-wheel-drive systems is geared toward on-road traction, but the other, dubbed Freedom II, earns the Patriot Jeep’s Trail Rated badge. That means that Patriots with Freedom II can climb and scurry over scabbard lands and hop over rocks like other Jeeps with the badge. Freedom II models also get a crawling “gear” for the continuously variable transmission.

Two engines are offered in the Patriot. All but the most basic versions get a 172-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that mates to a five-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that offers seamless power delivery without shifts. Basic Sport versions have an available 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 158 hp that’s available with the manual or the CVT.

The 2.0-liter four delivers 23 mpg city and 27 mpg highway on the EPA cycle. The 2.4-liter achieves 23 mpg city and 28 mpg on the highway when equipped with the five-speed manual. Order the CVT, and fuel economy suffers slightly—front-drive models get 21 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, and the all-wheel-drive models come in at 20 mpg city and 22 mpg on the highway. For those who have light things to tow, the Patriot can handle up to 2000 pounds.

The interior of the Patriot is upgraded and updated for 2009. Previously, the interior drew rants for its plasticky and cheap construction; the ’09 update addresses most of our complaints. The interior of the Patriot is spacious and comfortable. The seating position is high and well off the ground, and the rear seat is larger than one might expect, with 49 cubic feet of room. Cargo space under the rear hatch is similarly excellent; a flat, low cargo floor makes loading and unloading groceries or boxes easy.

Compared with some of its competitors, the Patriot can feel a bit unrefined, and it isn’t very fun to drive.

Verdict

The Patriot is a handsome little trucklet that is based on a car and delivers carlike fuel economy, but Jeep has engineered it to be able to have serious off-road chops. Some refinement issues—both engines sound particularly coarse, especially with the CVT—and a substandard driving experience are of concern, but the Patriot’s price and good looks might be enough to sway some buyers.

What’s New for 2009

For 2009, the Patriot receives an upgraded and better-looking interior as well as additional sound deadening that might address some of our gripes.

Highlights and Recommendations

At the bottom of the Patriot hierarchy is the Sport D trim level that has an attractive base price of just under $18,000, making it one of the least expensive crossover vehicles on the market. Opt for the 2.0-liter four-cylinder on the base Sport version for a saving of $200. Stepping up to the Sport E trim level brings far more standard equipment and will likely be the choice for most buyers, as it offers good value for the money. The Limited model tops the Patriot range, offering standard Sirius satellite radio, steering-wheel audio controls, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and 17-inch wheels.

All-wheel drive is optional on all models, but only hard-core enthusiasts should opt for the expensive Freedom II all-wheel-drive system. In most versions of the Patriot, the CVT is a $1100 option.

Safety

Dual front airbags, front and rear curtain side-impact airbags, front-seatbelt pretensioners, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and electronic stability control with rollover mitigation are standard on all Patriot models. Front-seat-mounted side airbags are optional.

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.