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Expert Reviews 2 of 3
By Cars.com Staff
September 1, 2007
Vehicle Overview The 2008 Patriot offers a few more standard features, as well as a recalibrated drivetrain that's said to run smoother than before. Sharing a platform with the Jeep Compass and Dodge Caliber, the Patriot combines light-duty off-roading with carlike on-road comfort. Competitors include the Honda Element, Ford Escape and Kia Sportage.
Available in both front- and all-wheel-drive variants, the Patriot arrived at U.S. dealerships toward the end of 2006. Standard features include side curtain airbags and an electronic stability system, and two four-cylinder engines are offered. Two four-wheel-drive systems are available, and the more capable system gives the Patriot Jeep's Trail-Rated designation, which means it's capable of meeting certain offroad standards for traction, water fording and ground clearance, among others.
Exterior To observe the Patriot is essentially to see the silhouette of the previous-generation Liberty, which raises the question: Does the world need another boxy SUV? The Patriot's styling hasn't changed appreciably since it debuted in concept form at the 2005 Frankfurt auto show, and the concept's seven-slot grille and round headlamps have made it to production. Standard steel wheels measure 16 inches in diameter, but 17-inch aluminum wheels are available.
With the optional Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package — which includes the driveline hardware that makes the Patriot Trail-Rated — the SUV gets 17-inch all-terrain tires, skid plates, tow hooks and fog lamps. Trail-Rated Patriots have 9 inches of ground clearance.
Interior Two rows of seats provide room for five occupants, and the interior is trimmed in shades of gray or beige. The base Patriot has "Vinyl Tech" seats and manual windows and locks, but for 2008 air conditioning becomes standard. Chrome door locks and handles and chrome accents on the stereo are also new. Options include cruise control; power windows, locks and mirrors; keyless entry; a 115-volt power plug; and premium cloth seating that is designed to prevent staining and discoloration.
The Patriot Limited includes all the previously mentioned options, and also has deep-tinted glass; a flat-folding front passenger seat; and a 60/40-split folding, reclining chair-height rear seat (as opposed to the rear seat on the base model, which folds flat). With the front passenger seat and rear seats folded, Jeep says the Patriot can hold an 8-foot ladder. A power sunroof and a Leather Interior Group, which includes leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with stereo controls, are available options.
The Patriot has a number of uncommon options, too, like a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics audio system with speakers that can swing out of the liftgate when camping or tailgating, and a cargo area dome light that can be removed and used as a flashlight.
Under the Hood Most Patriots come with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 172 horsepower and 165 pounds-feet of torque. Sport models with front-wheel drive and an automatic transmission use a smaller 2.0-liter engine, which makes 158 hp and 141 pounds-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard; the optional automatic is the continuously variable type.
Buyers have three drivelines to choose from: front-wheel drive, Freedom Drive I and the Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package. One of the main differences between the Freedom four-wheel-drive systems is that Freedom Drive II's continuously variable automatic transmission incorporates a low range for difficult offroad driving. Advanced offroad features include Hill Descent Control and offroad Brake Traction Control.
Safety Front disc and rear drum antilock brakes are standard, as are an electronic stability system and side curtain airbags for both rows. Rear disc brakes and side-impact airbags for the front seats are optional.