Back in January of 1991 the World’s attention was directed at the Middle East where the American military had begun its operation Desert Storm against the forces of Saddam Hussein. One of the battles within the war raged between surface-to-air missiles, namely the unfavoured Iraqi ‘Scud’ rockets that were intercepted and destroyed mid-air by the American’s elegantly named ‘Patriot’. A fascinating skirmish ensued with every sinister Scud missile brought down by a Patriot missile before it could reach its desired target. Now, the true success of the Patriot missiles during Desert Storm is disputed but back in 1991 it was a work of pure public relations genius.
The Patriot moniker lay dormant for many years until Chrysler’s Jeep marque brought it back in 2007 for its new budget-priced crossover SUV. For 2010 the Patriot has been given a thorough facelift and is ready to return to battle in this competitive market segment. But will this Patriot have the firepower to seek-and-destroy its rivals? Car and SUV went on a reconnaissance mission to find out more?
A quick inspection of the Patriot’s exterior reveals that little has changed with the facelift and Jeep is continuing with its heritage styling. The Patriot makes the most of its jail bar grille, round headlights and boxy stance to give the illusion of a much bigger vehicle. Tinted windows and 17-inch alloys are a glitzy touch but overall, it’s a tough, no-nonsense look that’s ready to kick sand in the face of more curvaceous crossover rivals. The distinctive exterior styling should have a broad appeal while still offering the right measure of Jeep styling cues to appease badge fans.
More significant revisions have taken place in the cabin where there’s a Spartan, practical feel. The dashboard, centre control stack, door-trim, and instrument cluster have all been replaced. The result is a sturdier, more attractive interior that makes extensive use of soft textured grey plastics and chrome accents. Ergonomics are solid with everything at near to hand and the instruments are large and easily read. The seats on the sport model are finished in a stain-repellant protective cloth, while comfortable they could benefit from greater lateral support. Interior space is decent with rear seat passengers allowed good legroom. There are also some practical touches like a flat folding rear and passenger seats that create a long luggage loading area and also a rechargeable interior light that can be unclipped and used as a flashlight. Other standard equipment on the Sport model includes air-conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, heated seats, height adjustable driver’s seat, sliding centre armrest and a CD player with auxiliary input.
Under the Patriot’s flat bonnet lays a 2.4-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine producing 125kW of power and 220Nm of torque. It’s the only engine option currently available and no mechanical changes have been made to the motor in the 2010 refresh. A CVT box handles the shifting duties with a ‘virtual’ manual change function if more control is required.
The Patriot isn’t overly endowed with power but will move along just fine in traffic and open road situations. The CVT set-up isn’t the most modern unit around and can be caught awkwardly chopping through the gear ratios, it also allows the engine to rev quite highly for prolonged periods. That said, in general driving the CVT does well to maximize the available torque. Fuel consumption is quoted at 9.1l/100km combined but we struggled to match that, achieving only 11.6 l/100km during a mix of urban and motorway driving.
Power is shifted to the road through Jeep’s well-named ‘Freedom Drive’ that senses a loss of traction and sends power to whichever of the four wheels requires it. This on demand 4WD system is proving popular in crossover vehicles and Freedom Drive system features an Electronically Controlled Coupling (ECC) attached to the rear differential. The ECC unit controls the amount of torque going to the rear wheels by means of a control module. While the Patriot is lacking proper low ratio gearing what it can offer is an off-road mode that’s button activated. In off-road mode the ECC system splits the torque evenly between front and rear wheels providing the best traction. Thanks to the electronic wizardry the Patriot has some genuine off road capability and an ability to follow up on the promises made by its brawny styling.
In terms of on-road dynamics the Patriot represents itself well. The steering is communicative and although the body does lean during cornering it’s not enough to guarantee carsickness while tackling curvy roads. The ride quality is fairly compliant and effort has been put into reducing road and wind noise entering the cabin. The Patriot also offers good maneuverability in urban environments and its compact dimensions make it easy to park.
When it comes to safety the Patriot is armed with multi-stage air bags for driver and passenger and side-curtain air bags. An Electronic Stability Programme is working behind the scenes, as is ABS brakes and an Electronic Roll Mitigation system.
Where the Patriot really intercepts its rivals is in pricing, at $35,990 for the tested vehicle it easily undercuts the base-model Toyota Rav4 and Mitsubishi Outlander by around 5K. The Mitsi and Toyota do have more advanced powertrains on offer but the gap isn’t huge by any stretch.
With the Patriot you’re getting a practical family hauler that’s produced with long-term durability in mind. You’ll also get a vehicle that has no issue negotiating a muddy sports field or steep gravel driveway but is still capable of free movement in tight city car parks. The best thing you’ll get is a vehicle that’s a little bit different but still from a well-recognised carmaker and you don’t have to pay a premium to own it. If your target is a keenly priced crossover SUV then watch out for the Jeep Patriot.
Price: $35,990 (Sport), $39,990 (Limited)
What we like:
- Traditional boxy styling
- Off-road capability
- Well priced
What we don’t like:
- No diesel engine option at present
- CVT box struggles at times
- Minimal interior
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
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Jeep Patriot (2010) – Specifications
2.4 DOHC 16V Engine dual VVT I-4
Displacement (cu cm) 2360
Power (kW net @ rpm) 125 @ 6000
Torque (N¢m @ rpm) 220 @ 4500
Fuel System Sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection
Continuously variable (CVT2) with 30-mm high-strength multilayer steel drive belt, ratio range (:1),
2.35 – 0.39, overall top gear ratio: 2.41 (Available 2.4)
Freedom-Drive I Active; full-time four-wheel drive (4WD) with selectable LOCK
Capacities/Weights/Towing (kg unless otherwise specified)
Fuel Tank (litre) 51.1
Base Curb Weight 1525-1570
Patriot Sport Payload Capacity (includes all cargo and occupants) 420
Maximum Gross Vehicle Weight Rating 2010
Maximum Loaded Trailer Weight (braked) 1200
Tongue Load Limit 120
Unitised steel construction with a structural safety cage utilising advanced hot-stamped, tailor-rolled, dual-phase steel technologies and advanced joint design for added strength, reduced weight and improved NVH
Front: Independent with MacPherson struts, coil springs over gas-charged shocks and stabiliser bar
Rear: Independent multilink with coil springs, gas-charged shocks and link-type stabiliser bar
Turns (lock-to-lock) 2.9
Turning Diameter (curb-to-curb) (m) 10.8
Four-wheel disc, hydraulic, power-assisted, 29.4 (diameter) x 2.6 (thick) front, 30.2 (diameter) x 1.0 (thick) rear
Electronic Stability Program
Four-channel, four-wheel antilock with active wheel-speed, vehicle-speed, steering-wheel angle, yaw- rate, and lateral-acceleration sensors, vehicle stability management with two-stage activation switch, all-speed traction control, Brake Assist, Electronic Roll Mitigation and Electronic Brake Distribution