2009 Patriot New Car Test Drive
The Jeep Patriot is unmistakably a Jeep. It looks like a cross between a Jeep Liberty and Jeep Compass; or maybe a three-quarter scale version of the big Jeep Commander.
The Patriot is one of two compact SUVs Jeep launched for the 2007 model year. Both the Patriot and the Compass are based on a car platform (also used for the Dodge Caliber hatchback).
The Patriot has plenty of room inside. There's 39.4 inches of legroom in the back seat, nearly an inch more than what's found in the Honda CR-V, even though the Honda is four inches longer than the Jeep. Patriot's 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.
Powered by a modern and economical 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, the Jeep Patriot gets an EPA-rated 23/28 mpg City/Highway. The 2.4-liter engine makes 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque, and that's plenty. Put the pedal down while cruising uphill at 75 miles per hour and it will accelerate. It make a bit more noise than we'd like under heavy throttle, despite additional sound deadening material for 2009. 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.
For 2009, Jeep redesigned Patriot's interior, with a new dashboard and instrument panel, soft-touch surfaces on the door armrests and center console, and a carpeted load floor instead of vinyl. While the new design is a step up versus the cut-rate feel of the last version, it is still largely plastic and doesn't offer a rich or warm feel.
Also for 2009, the Patriot adds a new model called Rocky Mountain and that aforementioned sound insulation is added to the engine compartment and floor. The Sport model gets revised suspension tuning for a more comfortable ride, and Jeep's UConnect Tunes and UConnect GPS systems are offered for the first time.
The 2009 Jeep Patriot comes in three models, Sport, Rocky Mountain and Limited, with a choice of front-wheel drive (2WD) and two all-wheel drive (AWD) systems. All models come standard with a 172-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission. 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). A 2.0-liter four-cylinder is available as a $200 credit option for the Sport. It makes 158 hp and 141 pound-feet of torque, but must be ordered with the CVT.
Patriot Sport 2WD ($17,540) and AWD ($19,290) 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 a Quick Order package ($2,175) with Yes Essentials cloth upholstery; cruise control and power windows, mirrors and door locks with remote keyless entry; height-adjustable driver's seat; fold-flat front passenger seat; reclining rear seat; map lights; a removable/rechargeable rear flashlight; a 115-volt power outlet; rubber floormats; rear privacy glass; four-wheel disc brakes. The Freedom Drive II Off-Road group ($1,395) 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/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 6CD changer ($350), front side airbags ($250), and P215/65R17 tires on alloy wheels ($590).
Patriot Rocky Mountain 2WD ($19,135) and AWD ($20,885) add Yes Essentials cloth upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, height-adjustable driver's seat, fold-flat front passenger seat, Boston Acoustics sound system, Sirius satellite radio, liftgate speakers, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, sunroof, 115-volt power outlet, removable/rechargeable light, rubber floormats, rear privacy glass, and P215/60R17 tires on alloy wheels.
Patriot Limited 2WD ($22,230) and AWD ($23,980) 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; a 6-disc CD changer; 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 offers a Security and Cargo Convenience group ($995) 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 Jeep's UConnect Tunes hard-drive radio ($650) and the UConnect Multimedia Suite ($1,295) 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. The Freedom Drive II package costs $875 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, and electronic stability control with rollover mitigation. Torso-protecting front side impact airbags are an option we recommend.