Left In The Weeds, But Okay With That Seventy years ago, the Jeep Patriot would have been amazing. In 1941, the year the original Jeep was drawn up, the power windows, air conditioning and automatic transmission in this Patriot Latitude were features only available in cars like Packards. The Patriot has features and dynamic capabilities unheard of back when the Jeep was an idea, not a brand. Seventy years of progress, perspective and turmoil has a way of turning the formerly amazing into the mundane. Since its introduction, along with its Compass close relation, this Illinois-built crossover has been viewed as the Fauxlex of Jeeps. It's based on the defunct Dodge Caliber, which itself shares the Mitsubishi GS platform, ensuring a complete lack of underlying Jeep DNA. The only link back to Karl Probst and his seminal design is some squared-off styling and the impression that the Patriot was also designed over a marathon weekend, just like that first Bantam proposal. There have been a couple rounds of updates to the Patriot to address previous foibles including its former horror chamber-like interior, along with moves to banish the traces of econobox from its styling. We wanted to sample these changes and see just how far the Patriot can go on its reserve of charm. After two revisions, the interior has finally atoned for the original. The Patriot has always had Jeepy good looks. Boxy and reminiscent of the original Cherokee, the Patriot recently got subtle styling changes. These inconsequential tweaks follow an "If it ain't broke, add cladding and move the fog lamps" philosophy. There are some angles, like the rear three-quarter view where you can see through the sharply folded metalwork to the GS platform underneath. A redesigned lower rear fascia does a better job at hiding the muffler, a small change that pays off classy. For what it is, the Patriot pulls off looking like a Jeep. The interior may trump the class of 1939, but it was massively upgraded for 2011. Better materials now cover the cleaned-up dashboard design, which has been improved ergonomically. Finally, after two revisions, the Patriot's interior has atoned for the original's shameful outfitting. Soft padding for the upper front door panels even helps the Patriot trump some of its hard-doored competition. The center armrest with two storage areas and a chunky steering wheel festooned with easy-to-master controls are also newer worthwhile enhancements. Compared to the original Patriot, standard upholstery is now premium cloth, door switches and ancillary controls are newly backlit and cruise control is standard, too. UConnect is, as always, incredibly usable and friendly. Jeep has done its best with what it's got, but the low roof and smallish glass area still make the driver feel boxed in. Looking around, it's a reminder of how 1980s cars were put together, the Patriot's $17,695 base price is the reason behind its retro-style assembly. Comfort in the chair-height seats is good. They're minimally bolstered, but the 17-inch tires aren't grippy enough for that …
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|MPG||22 City / 28 Hwy|
|Transmission||5-spd man w/OD|
|Power||172 @ 6000 rpm|
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