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Jeep Patriot 2007 review: snapshot

Whatever else may be said about Jeep the manufacturers of the iconic American rock-hoppers could never be accused of taking a soft option nor trailing behind the opposition.

Jeep has, for more than half a century, built what it believes is the best for getting through whatever nature may care to throw in its path. It may not have been the most attractive car, it may not have been the most comfortable car, but it certainly did its job.

That dogged determination to do things its own way made it all the more surprising when the company announced it was going to launch not one but two soft-roaders, the first models to wear the Jeep name and seven-slot grille without having to pass the Rubicon Trail test.

Having launched the Compass earlier this year, Jeep is about to put its second soft-roader, the Patriot into the same burgeoning compact SUV market without embarrassment that the two are almost identical.

“From inside you would be hard-pressed to pick which of the two cars you are in,” Jeep Australia's general manager for sales, Brad Fitzsimmons concedes. “In equipment, platform and interior styling they are very similar... but, we believe the two (exterior) stylings appeal to different people. The Compass is a softer-looking car promoted with city ideals while all the Patriot images will feature an outdoor theme.”

Even the pricing is similar with Compass carrying a $2500 premium for equivalent models. The Patriot Sport will set a new entry-level price for Jeep vehicles with a sticker price of $29,990 for the 2.4-litre petrol coupled to the five-speed manual. The CVT automatic will add $2000 while the 2.0-litre turbo diesel, in six-speed manual only, will be $33,990.

The Limited model range with the same engine/gearbox combinations will cost $4000 more than the equivalent Sport models.

Standard issue for both includes twin front airbags, side-curtain airbags, switchable traction control, electronic stability control, including rollover mitigation and dual calibration ABS with off-road and on-road calibration and electronic rear differential lock. The Limited will offer a $600 package of side airbags.

Comfort features in the Sport include airconditioning, cabin air filtering, a removable and washable cargo floor, power locking, remote keyless entry, cloth seats, 17-inch alloys with full-size steel spare, security alarm, tilt-adjustable steering wheel and four-speaker stereo with CD.

The Limited adds cruise control, body-colour side mouldings, fog lamps, leather interior, including trimmed steering wheel, heated front seats, six-disc CD changer and deep tinted sunscreen glass.

The interior of the Patriot draws its inspiration from a granite block — square, grey and very purposeful. Strangely, the hard plastics and sizeable flat surfaces are not offensive but neither are they inspiring.

Interior space is good and there are some nice touches such as the flexibility of the seating, which allows all but the driver's seat to fold flat, and the placing of the gear-shift lever raised part-way up the centre console where it falls easily to hand.

On the highway the Patriot is a good all-rounder. Ride quality is better than average for an SUV. Balance and stability of the MacPherson front-end and five-link independent rear suspension is good, the steering particularly so. The Patriot is happy to take on tarmac — within the capabilities of its 2.4-litre petrol (125kW and 220Nm) or VW-sourced 2.0-litre turbo diesel (103kW and 310Nm). Where the Patriot really surprises is off the beaten track, well off the beaten track.

“The car was always planned to be a 4X4 product,” Jeep's senior manager for international markets Kevin Tourneur says. “Things such as the 178mm suspension travel, the alternator set high on the engine to give a fording ability, the fuel and brake lines bundled out of harms way to protect them from rock damage, electronic diff lock ... they all go towards improved off-road ability.”

The Patriot's Freedom-Drive 1 all-wheel-drive system is an active system with a heavy front-wheel-drive bias but complemented by torque split software that doesn't need to detect wheel slip before feeding additional torque to the rear wheels.

There is no argument that the diesel with its easily controlled low-down torque is the better engine for anyone contemplating using their Patriot for regular off-road excursions, but the petrol did, with a little more encouragement and patience, keep its oil-burning sibling honest over a New Zealand experience that featured mud, snow, rocks, washed-out tracks and steep inclines far beyond what 99.9 per cent of SUV buyers would ever contemplate for the vehicles.

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Range and Specs

Sport 2.4L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $3,080 – 4,840 2007 Jeep Patriot 2007 Sport Pricing and Specs
Limited 2.4L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $3,850 – 5,610 2007 Jeep Patriot 2007 Limited Pricing and Specs
Kevin Hepworth
Contributing Journalist


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