The Compass arrived here in 2007 as the country’s new entry-level 4x4 from the Chrysler-owned American manufacturer, Jeep. The styling is unmistakably Jeep, with rounded headlights, large bumper, upright windscreen, flat roof, and distinctive 7-slot grille. Like its sibling the Cherokee, the car was offered in two models: the Sport and the Limited.
The Patriot is not the roomiest inside although legroom is not compromised – but it is certainly more a workhorse than a cruiser. That said, the ride is surprisingly smooth and quiet for a 4x4, and noticeably so for an entry-level model, especially in the post-2009 models, which feature improved floor insulation for sound reduction, improved exhaust tuning, and also some improvements to the suspension to soften the ride. Unlike many 4x4s that are designed these days with curb appeal in mind for the urban market, the Patriot is a decent off-road vehicle with good on-road capabilities.
The cabin finish is not the highest quality; this is one area where the Patriot does indeed compromise in order to keep its price tag low. However, 2009 saw a cosmetic revamp to the Patriot so if you are in the market for a post-2009 model, expect to find something a little smarter, with a very masculine but attractive slate grey interior with stain-repel technology for longevity, a restyled dash, a new-look centre console and instrument panel, and restyled door panels.
The Patriot comes with Free Drive, Jeep’s answer to an active four-wheel-drive system, which enables it to be locked into full-time 4x4 mode. It arrived to market with a 2.4L petrol engine producing 125kW of power and 220Nm of torque, coupled with a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard and Jeep’s 4x4 Freedom Drive system. An optional 2.0L turbodiesel alternative was also produced, with manual-only transmission, while the 2.4L petrol came with the option of an automatic alternative. On paper, the two engine options should offer plenty of power and indeed they do for standard use, but with a body weighing 1.5 tonnes, it often needs plenty of throttle to keep up with the pace, especially on rugged or uphill terrain.
Published fuel economy for the petrol model is 8.5L/100km, but expect to use considerably more for challenging driving. Expect to hit 0-100km/h in around 11 seconds with decent terrain and conditions – though these, of course, are not necessarily what you would buy your Jeep Patriot to enjoy.
The Patriot offers a wide range of safety equipment as standard, in spite of its surprisingly affordable price tag. Side curtain airbags, electronic stability programme, anti-lock brakes with off-road calibration, electronic roll mitigation, and brake traction control all feature on both Sport and Limited models. If you are in the market for a Limited, expect also to find cruise control, roof rack with cross bars, colour-coded body mouldings, fog lamps to front, and 17-inch alloy wheels outside. Inside, you will find bucket seats with premium leather trim, leather steering wheel with inbuilt audio controls, manual lumber adjuster to driver’s seat, and heated driver and passenger seats.
Gadgetry on the Patriot includes Uconnect Navigation, with 20GB hard drive on 2007 to 2009 models and 30GB hard drive on post-2009 models, which also feature a 16.5-cm touchscreen display, CD, DVD, MP3, WMA, JPEG DVD, USB, and audio jack along with voice command and an iPod control lead.
All in all, this is a huge amount of standard equipment for the price, especially from a manufacturer that carries the badge appeal of Jeep.
The 4x4 market is growing fast and manufacturers need to do more to keep up. With the trend for ‘urban-slick’ 4x4 continuing apace, there is a definite niche for those that remain in the real utility 4x4 bracket, and it is here that the Patriot sits nicely.
Pricing is highly competitive for the Patriot, especially considering the amount and quality of kit that’s included as standard. Main competitors within this bracket come from other Jeep models – the Wrangler, Cherokee, and Compass, while the Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, and Nissan X-Trail all give it a run for its money.