The all-new Patriot, Jeep's newest attempt at wooing the crossover market, shares underpinnings with the Compass and Caliber. When the Patriot was first revealed, comparisons with the classic Cherokee were inevitable.
Cherokee fans may be surprised to learn that the compact Patriot actually has a longer wheelbase, is longer overall, and is taller. The Patriot is powered by an always overworked and noisy 2.4-liter inline-four. Hard acceleration brings engine speed to a screaming 6000 rpm (near redline). Despite being the lightest SUV in the test, its 0-to-60 time was second worst, beating only the Liberty to the finish line. Although it's Trail Rated, the Freedom Drive all-wheel-drive system was nanny-controlled and seemed to do more to hinder off-roading than make it easier.
On the up side, most judges agree that, of the vehicles that share this platform, this Patriot is the best to date. It corners decently, testers found rear-seat legroom is better than expected, and it can hold a fair amount of gear for its size. An unrefined engine, utilitarian/cheap interior, and less-than-smooth ride, though, serve as a nostalgic reminder of SUVs past. There's also the price element, and our topline Patriot runs a hair under $24,000. That might be a good price, but cheap materials and lack of power don't make it a good value.
In the end, this crossover to the Jeep lineup is akin to an Elvis impersonator: Just because he's in a white jumpsuit doesn't make him Elvis. Just because the Patriot has a seven-slot grille doesn't make it the real thing.
| 2008 Jeep Patriot |
| Base price range || $16,035-$$22,505 |
| Price as tested || $23,915 (Sport AWD) |
| Vehicle layout || Front engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV |
| Engine || 2.4L/172-hp/165-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 |
| Transmission || Cont. variable auto |
| Curb weight (f/r dist) || 3507 lb (57/43%) |
| Wheelbase || 103.7 in |
| Length x width x height || 173.6 x 69.1 x 65.7 in |
| 0-60 mph || 9.7 sec |
| Quarter mile || 17.5 sec @ 81.0 mph |
| Braking, 60-0 mph || 137 ft |
| Lateral acceleration || 0.69 g (avg) |
| MT Figure Eight || 30.2 sec @ 0.51 g (avg) |
| EPA city/hwy fuel econ || 22/27 mpg |
| CO2 emissions || 0.93 lb/mile |
| Ratings |
| Engineering || ** |
| Design || *** |
| Interior/Functionality || ** |
| Performance || ** |
| On-Road Refinement || ** |
| Off-Road Ability || *** |
| Value || *** |
| Bottom Line || Looks like a Jeep, but it's more of a crossover dressed in Jeep clothing. |