With either of the Patriot's two 4-cylinder engine offerings under the hood, the Patriot is reasonably energetic on the road while also returning decent fuel economy. The base front-wheel-drive models can be equipped with a 158-horsepower, 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, but also available, and standard on the rest of the lineup, is a 172-hp, 2.4L 4-cylinder powerplant.
Although the Patriot is the most car-like Jeep, it hasn't forsaken its off-road heritage. Three different drivetrain configurations are offered: front-wheel drive, Freedom Drive I and Freedom Drive II. Freedom Drive I is an active all-wheel drive system that sends more power to the rear wheels when needed. The system also includes a lock mode for deep snow or mud. For those may do occasional off-roading, there's the Freedom II Off-Road Package, which brings a 19:1 low range gearing for the transaxle, plus skid plates, a full-size spare, all-terrain tires, tow hooks, fog lamps and an engine oil cooler. With the package, the Patriot offers nine inches of ground clearance (an inch higher than the other models), plus 19-inch water-fording capability and better approach/departure angles than some truck-based SUVs.
Brake Traction Control and Hill Descent Control assist with steep, slippery slopes off-road, while all Patriots come with electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes, including a rough-road mode for the anti-lock brakes.
The Patriot's very boxy exterior helps provide an extremely roomy, practical interior. The front seats have a more car-like position than Jeep's other models, but they command a good view of the road. Rear seating is also comfortable, with adequate legroom and plenty of headroom. Up-level models offer a reclining seatback. For cargo versatility, the back seats fold forward flat and increase the dimensions of the box-shaped cargo area. The front passenger seat can also fold all the way forward to act as a table or to make room for especially long cargo.
All three trims are offered with either front- or 4-wheel drive. The base model includes all the safety equipment but offers a more spartan feature set, including a rear defroster and a 4-speaker CD sound system. Latitude models make a strong step up and come with heated power-adjustable seats, cruise control, keyless entry, an auxiliary power outlet, an upgraded sound system and alloy wheels.
The Limited is more luxury oriented with bright exhaust and roof rails, upgraded body trim, an upgraded stereo with a 6-disc CD changer, an auxiliary audio jack and SIRIUS satellite radio, climate control, leather seats and silver interior accents.
The Patriot has a wider range of options than is expected from a vehicle that starts at well under $20,000. An especially noteworthy option is the UConnect tunes system, which includes a 40GB hard drive for storage of music and pictures; the system can read CDs, DVDs or USB memory sticks. Another option, UConnect GPS, includes a hands-free phone interface and voice-activated commands, plus real-time traffic information for the navigation system.