2011 JEEP PATRIOT REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Compact SUV
Price: $30,000 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 8.4 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 9.9 l/100km
Revised for 2011 with an updated interior, revised bumpers, new wheels and standard cruise control across the range, the Jeep Patriot’s MY11 refresh is best described as “mild”.
Beyond its enticing $30k sticker price and wagon versatility, we found that the Patriot needs a more substantial upgrade to give it genuine appeal to compact SUV buyers.
Quality: Cabin quality lacks refinement. Plastics and controls don’t match the better Japanese contenders (the centre console lid, for example, is not damped and simply slams shut if let go).
The leather-trimmed steering wheel is pleasant to hold though, and the cloth upholstery feels durable. Soft-touch plastics on the upper door-trims are new for 2011, and a welcome addition.
Comfort: The manually-adjusted front seats are roomy, soft and comfortable. The back seats are also softly-cushioned and comfortable (the reclining backrest helps), but the seat is a little short under the thighs.
The steering wheel only adjusts for rake, and cabin width restricts the Patriot to being a four-seater (for adults), though smaller kids can go three abreast across the rear.
Equipment: Standard on the entry-level Patriot Sport is cruise-control, a trip computer, power windows and mirrors, air-conditioning, a four-speaker stereo with AUX input and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Bluetooth, a USB audio input, foglamps, sat-nav, heated front seats and front side airbags are available as options.
Storage: The Patriot can carry up to 536 litres of cargo with the rear seats up, and up to 1357 litres with the seats folded. However, with the cargo blind in place the cargo capacity drops to just 320 litres with the seats up, or 721 with them folded.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The Patriot’s 125kW/220Nm 2.4 litre petrol four-cylinder has the right numbers, but it feels slower than it should on the road.
There isn’t much torque below 3000rpm, and the engine is generally lifeless unless revved hard. Performance is noticeably blunted when carrying a full load of passengers.
The standard five-speed manual has good gearing, but is lumped with a vague shifter and spongy clutch pedal. The optional CVT automatic might be the better choice.
Refinement: There is a fair amount of noise and vibration from the road, engine and transmission. The Patriot’s boxy shape also generates a lot of wind noise at speed - particularly around the wing mirrors.
The interior itself is tight though, with no trim rattles heard during our time with the car.
Suspension: The Patriot’s suspension is soft enough to smooth out choppy urban roads, but - peculiarly - feels a tad too firm over smaller highway corrugations and surface imperfections.
There’s a lot of body roll during hard cornering and undulating tarmac at speed can be a bit of a handful. The upside of its AWD underpinnings however means that the Patriot can stay out of trouble on slippery surfaces (aided by the grippy Continental tyres).
The steering is over-assisted, which makes going from lock-to-lock easy in a carpark, but doesn’t tell the driver much about what the front wheels are doing.
Braking: The pedal feels overly soft, and braking performance is only average.
ANCAP rating: Not tested
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, brake assist, Electronic Roll Mitigation, front and curtain airbags, three-point seatbelts on all seats.
Front side-airbags are available on the Patriot Sport as an optional extra.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km.
Service costs: Intervals are set for every 12,000km, with a typical service costing between $310 and $500. Major services are scheduled for every 48,000km, and cost roughly $650.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Nissan X-Trail ST ($32,490) - Producing the same power and slightly more torque, the X-Trail is similar to the Patriot on paper, but is a far more competent vehicle.
The Nissan has better build quality, more intelligent interior packaging and a longer standard equipment list - easily worth the $2,490 premium over the Jeep. (see X-Trail reviews)
Honda CR-V ($28,090) - The CR-V is heavier than the Patriot and uses slightly more fuel, but that’s about its only disadvantage.
Like the X-Trail and Forester, the CRV is better equipped, better built and has more car-like handling. (see CR-V reviews)
Subaru Forester X ($30,990) - A favourite in the compact SUV market, it’s not hard to see the Forester’s appeal. It’s durable, has strong resale values and comes with a tractable 126kW/235Nm petrol flat four. (see Forester reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The entry-level Patriot Sport is below par when judged against its peers, and is starting to show its age. Besides ordinary on-road performance, both its interior quality and feature list could use some sprucing up.
There’s a distinct butch appeal to its traditionally-Jeep styling though, and it’s one of the more affordable AWD compact SUVs on the market. Its problem is it feels outclassed in a very competitive segment.