What's New for 2007
The 2007 Jeep Patriot is a new compact SUV.
With two compact SUVs already in its lineup, one may wonder why Jeep bothered to create the 2007 Patriot. Well, it seems that the company's managers wanted to make the most of the new platform also being used for the Jeep Compass and the Dodge Caliber. To aid in differentiation, the Patriot is meant to be more off-road capable and macho. As macho as a small car-based SUV can be, that is.
As proof, the all-wheel-drive version can be fitted with a low-range ratio for scaling steeper 4x4 trails and a full complement of skid plates to protect it from rock damage. Thusly equipped, the 2007 Jeep Patriot still isn't as nimble off-road as the Liberty or Wrangler, of course, but with that optional "Freedom Drive II" off-road package, it earns Jeep's "Trail Rated" certification, which means it's more ready and willing to take on challenging terrain than its soft-roader Compass sibling.
Looking much like a two-thirds-scale Commander or modern incarnation of the old Cherokee, the Patriot's styling is certainly Jeep-like. The seven-slot grille, strong beltline, rectangular body and bulging fender flares give the Patriot a rough-and-ready look that should appeal to the target demographic of young and active individuals.
One may choose either front- or all-wheel drive, and there are just two trim levels. The standard engine is the 172-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline-4 shared with the Compass and Caliber, hooked up to either a five-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The latter (when equipped on AWD models) can be had with an extra-low "off-road" ratio that allows the Patriot to better negotiate steeper and/or rock-strewn trails.
Thanks to a starting MSRP of about $15,000 for a front-drive model, the 2007 Jeep Patriot is an affordable way for buyers to get the rugged styling and image of a Jeep. The only other games in town for close to that price are the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage platform mates, which don't have as much power, as much towing capacity, and, we'd wager, not as much capability off-road. They do counter with larger interiors and a better warranty, however.
Consumers who can spend more and are looking at a Patriot Limited 4x4 at around $21,000 should probably consider more polished rivals such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Both of those utes give up some off-road prowess to the Patriot, but they are superior in terms of engine and cabin refinement and provide more cargo capacity.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Jeep Patriot is a compact SUV that comes in base Sport and plush Limited trims. The Sport doesn't come with much in terms of popular amenities, though a CD player and MP3 auxiliary jack are standard. Step up to the Limited and you'll get 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seating, full power accessories, cruise control, a fold-flat front passenger seat, reclining rear seats, air-conditioning, heated seats, keyless entry, a 115-volt power outlet, exterior chrome trim accents, a roof rack and privacy glass.
Many of the Limited's features can be had on the Sport via individual options or packages. Optional on both are a "Freedom Drive II" off-road package (which includes skid plates, a low-range ratio for CVT-equipped vehicles, hill descent control and a 1-inch-higher ground clearance), a CD changer, a towing package and a Boston Acoustics premium audio system. The Limited also qualifies for a power moonroof, a navigation system, hands-free phone connectivity and satellite radio options.
Powertrains and Performance
A 2.4-liter inline-4 with 172 hp and 165 pound-feet of torque is standard across the board. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a CVT is optional. One may choose either front- or all-wheel drive. When the Patriot AWD is fitted with the available off-road package, the CVT also comes with a low "crawling" ratio. The front-wheel-drive Sport model with the optional CVT can also be had with a smaller, 158-hp 2.0-liter four for less money than the 2.4 with the CVT. Properly equipped, the Patriot can tow 2,000 pounds.
Equipped with the CVT, the Patriot feels flat-footed as that transmission seems to sap power from the engine. With the manual gearbox, there's more thrust on tap, and it's delivered in a more linear and familiar fashion. With a 0-60-mph estimate of around 10 seconds for the 2.4-liter four with a CVT, the Patriot is a mid- to back-packer in the small SUV segment.
Antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control (with roll-over mitigation) and side curtain airbags are all standard. Front-seat side airbags are optional on both trims, while a tire-pressure monitor is available only on the Limited through an optional Convenience package.
Interior Design and Special Features
Large gauges and simple controls grace the Patriot's cabin, but other than a large open cubby above the glovebox, storage space is unremarkable. Limited models feature two-tone leather seating and a faux aluminum finish on the center stack that class things up considerably over the rather plain interior d¨Ścor of the Sport. Although build quality is good, there are still a few rough edges, such as the interior grab handle of the liftgate that has a pair of exposed bolts that can scrape fingers if you're not careful. The optional nine-speaker premium sound system features just the thing for tailgate parties ¨D liftgate-mounted speakers that flip outward toward the revelers. At 54.2 cubic feet, the Patriot's maximum cargo capacity is below average.
On the road, the 2007 Jeep Patriot is impressively quiet and thanks to stiffer suspension settings compared to its platform mates, its handling is commendable. Although there is some body roll (as one would expect of an SUV) the Patriot feels confident in the corners and the ride is firm and controlled over the bumps. With the off-road package, the Patriot lives up to its Jeep heritage thanks to its aggressive approach and departure angles, ample (9.0-inch) ground clearance and a low-range gear that allows it to tackle trails that most cute utes would fear to tread. Still, if you're really serious about going off-road in a small SUV, you'd be better suited by Jeep's own Wrangler or competitors like the Nissan Xterra and Toyota FJ Cruiser -- all of which are more capable on rough terrain.