Why I love the Jeep Patriot and why they shouldn’t stop making it.
I love the Jeep Patriot. That’s right the Jeep Patriot. I am well aware it is universally panned as a poorly built, poorly equipped cheap feeling Little Tykes knock off and I LOVE IT.
My feelings are less than equal for its cousins the Jeep Compass and Dodge Caliber, which are almost identical in build and interior makeup. The Patriot has been in production since 2007 and had a minor exterior/interior refresh in 2010. That is when it started for me. The original looked as if it was cut from a singular block of plastic but in 2010 Jeep worked its magic with some lower black body cladding in center mounted fogs. It worked.
First, a quasi comparison-review
I’ve driven a Patriot twice. Both were on test drives and both were very different models. The first had a 2.4 inline 4 cylinder connected to a CVT transmission. The second was the 2.2 hooked with a stick.
I took a 2010 or 2011 model for a test drive and it was still sporting the loathsome CVT transmission. Since then Jeep has started to offer a more traditional 6-speed automatic that you can find across the older Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep range. Hell it’s the one my Grand Caravan uses. It still kinda sucks, it slips and shifts hard but anything is better than the metal on metal mechanical drone of the CVT. The Patriot/Compass range still offer the antiquated 2.2 and 2.4 inline 4 cylinder engines. Both are underpowered but the 2.2 is like a crucifixion. The 2.4 is loud and fussy but gets the job done.
The funny thing I noticed most about the interior are that the seat rails are clearly visible. My ’74 Beetle had more discretion about how the seats were connected to the floorpan. The plastics were, well plastic. I mean really plastic. The quality was low but then again I’m comparing this to my VW. The Patriot also uses Dodge’s older multimedia system. It is the one not fully integrated into the car so unlike the Cherokee hackers can’t kill you whenever they want and it pretty straightforward and gets the job done. The seats were comfortable, but again the quality of the material was low. You never really find a used one sporting leather because no one ever wanted one with leather. They were buying a Patriot because, and as Jeep touts, it’s “the most affordable SUV in America.” Overall the interior wasn’t well thought out, a box on wheels should offer more interior room.
This is where all of you will think I’m crazy. After the refresh in 2010 this thing looks good. It’s a Jeep (although some argue otherwise) and it looks like your entry level Jeep should. Square, upright and chiseled. There isn’t much else to say just skip the base model’s tinfoil pie plate wheels. This Little Tyke isn’t half bad looking. I’ll take mine in white.
Keep it going
Obviously just because it looks Jeep-ish is no reason to keep making it but hang with me. Multiple car companies, most notably Chevrolet (probably not the best example but I’m using it) and Nissan (yes, better) have kept “legacy” models based on popularity or lack of expense. Nissan still offers the previous model Rogue. It was/is a popular choice and they can sell it far cheaper to new-car buyers that don’t want the “flash and jazzle” of the new model. Is jazzle a word? It kinda sounds dirty. I like that to.
Likewise Chevrolet continued to produce the original first generation modern Malibu as well as the last square model for a few years. The quintessential cop Impala lived on passed the introduction of the new model as well. Why? The tooling was already there, it had already paid for itself. The cars are just stinking of profit.
Let’s face it. People want Jeeps and not because they are going off road. They just want to be seen driving a Jeep. One that looks like a Jeep. I thought the new Cherokee would grow on me, with the exception of the Trailhawk, it hasn’t. I adore the Renegade but it can still be expensive.
The Patriot is dying after this year and the Compass will live on in a handsome new model that is the proverbial love child of a Cherokee and a Grand Cherokee. Think grand face and cherokee ass. Hmm, I think that is a Paul Revere and the Raiders song.
The Patriot doesn’t need to go. The tooling is there, it’s paid off. They sold 1,354,482 Patriots, Compass(esesses) and Calibers in the US alone. Keep the 2.4 “Tigershark” or upgrade the engine to the Multi-Air. Hell, put that 3.6 V6 “Pentastar” in it! They put in literally EVERY OTHER CAR THEY PRODUCE. The appeal of the Patriot is simple. It is what American cars used to be. Sure we’ve progressed in style and quality but there is still an appeal for that cheap American car. And what better cheap American car to have than a Jeep. Somewhat rugged, dependable enough and with parts to spare.
Jeep, listen to me, keep building it. Also give me a fully loaded on and I will drive it around the country touting its low price and high ride comfort to the masses.
People want a cheap simple Jeep that can go some places and do some things. The rest can go buy a Wrangler.