The Jeep Patriot has one thing its rivals lack - rugged looks. It is just as well. This entry level to the Jeep world needs a tough skin if it is to improve on the minor dent it has made so far against the more polished compact SUV class leaders. Rivals are led by the Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan X-Trail.

VALUE

Prices start at $28,000 for the Sport manual (CVT auto $30,000). Then comes the Limited at $32,500 and the Anniversary at $37,500.



DESIGN


The vehicle is well named, for you need to be patriotically American to put it above all others.
There is no doubting its heritage. The boxy square-rigged exterior, trademark seven-bar grille, upright windscreen, flat roof and angular rear-end spell American and Jeep.

The latest model gets a revised grille, bumpers, side cladding and tailights. Inside, the layout is angular and high-waisted, with hard plastic trim but clear and easy-to-use controls and good vision to the rear and sides.



EQUIPMENT

What you get is full-time all-wheel drive, a lockable centre differential, hill-descent control, off-road stability control and a ground clearance almost equal to the best in class.
But while off-road capability is a plus, the Patriot is not over-endowed with interior space, refinement or driving appeal.

TECHNOLOGY

On paper, the 2.4-litre petrol engine puts out a respectable 125kW and 220Nm, but with a relatively tall geared five-speed gearbox and a body weighing 1.5 tonnes, throttle response is dull and it needs plenty of coaxing to keep pace.

DRIVING


On the open road it cruises calmly at 2350rpm at 100km/h but requires liberal use of the gearbox in hilly terrain. Fuel use is a claimed 8.4l/100km on the combined cycle and on test averaged 9.2l/100km. However, the fuel tank is just 51 litres.
Cabin space is confined, although the headroom and rear seat legroom are generous.


The front and rear seats are firm and relatively flat, the doors open wide for easy entry and exit and the split-fold rear seats have rake adjustment on the backrest. Load space is only average and confined by the high floor covering a full-size spare wheel. There are plenty of storage spaces but many of them are small and limited.

Jeep Patriot

Price: From $28,000
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Engine: 2.4-litre, 4 cylinder; 125kW/220Nm
Transmision: Five-speed manual
Economy: 8.5 litres/100km 196g/km CO2 
Body: 4-door wagon, 5 seats
Dimensions: 44424mm (l), 1808mm (w), 1712mm (h)
Wheelbase: 2635mm, tracks front/rear 1520mm/1520mm
Weight: 1645kg
Tyres: 17x6.5. 215/60 R17, alloy.
Spare: Full-size steel.