Crossover with Capability: 2007 Jeep Patriot Review

2007 Jeep Patriot Overview

Aug. 01, 2007 By Katrina Ramser
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True off-road enthusiasts would probably be happiest with the Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package

Trying to describe the origins of the 2007 Jeep Patriot is like trying to describe a patchwork quilt. It's kind of a cross between the Compass and the Liberty, but with more rugged Jeep styling. Then again, it's sort of a replacement to the Cherokee XJ, but with the Patriot being chunkier and having two more inches of wheelbase (103.7-inch total). And it's built on the same underpinnings as the Dodge Caliber.

Wherever it comes from, it's certainly retro and has a great price for a 4-door compact SUV that holds five passengers. I drove a 2007 Patriot Sport 4x4 with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder DOHC with the optional Continuously Variable Transaxle II. Total vehicle price is $22,535 with a gas mileage estimate of 23-mpg city and 26-mpg highway driving.

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The driver's seat was roomy, but my passengers didn't feel the same way about the rear seating

Right away I'm excited about the affordable price and gas mileage of the Patriot. This kind of price and gasoline efficiency on a vehicle with four-wheel drive capability is a new concept for me.

Its exterior configurations are what I feel are a respectable (if not a perfect size) for a compact SUV. Overall length is 173.6 inches; width is 69.1 inches; and height at 65.7 inches. Curb weight for the Sport 4x4 is 3,250 pounds.

However, once inside and on the road, right away I'm not excited about the standard 172-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. For lack of a better description, the engine sounds like a snowmobile.

All Patriots have standard traction control, stability control, brake assist, electronic roll mitigation, and off-road anti-lock brakes with rough road detection. For transmission, the Patriot features a standard five-speed manual transaxle and an available Continuously Variable Transaxle (CVT2), or known as a Freedom Drive I. The transmission in the vehicle I drove was equipped with the Freedom Drive I CVT2 system.

What happens with the CVT2 is that the transaxle does not move from gear-to-gear. So the ride is smooth and void of any jerks found in usual automatic transmissions, but one kind of feels like they are being slung forward during acceleration by a rubber band being carefully pulled back and then released slowly. It was definitely what I am not used to in Jeep. I have faith that what I experienced is efficiency in action, but it just sure sounds strange – like the transmission is slipping. Jeep states the CVT2 system contributes to a fuel economy improvement of approximately 7 percent compared with a traditional four-speed automatic transaxle.

The other engine option is a 158-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder; unlike the Liberty, there is no 6-cyclinder engine.

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The Patriot still incorporates traditional Jeep styling

The Patriot 4x4 Sport I drove came with the Customer Preferred Package, which at $2,350 included: air conditioning; power fold-away mirrors, power locks, power windows; remote keyless entry; rear 60/40 back seats; and other basics consumers expect in a new car. 

Upon first entry, I found the tilt steering wheel hard to adjust. But it was roomy for the driver, with headroom at 41 inches and legroom at 40.6 inches. My backseat passengers thought it was very cramped – it was determined a middle fifth passenger would not be comfortable at all. The Rear legroom shrinks to 39.4 inches. Headroom goes down as well to 39.9 inches.

For the Patriot Sport, you get 54.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded flat and 62.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the front passenger seat back and rear seats folded flat.

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The Patriot's configurations can be compared to a lot of others -- the compact SUV market is tough

Aside of the two drivetrain configurations mentioned above, there is one more – a Freedom Drive II Off-Road.

The vehicle I drove, with the Freedom Drive I, strikes me as a decent, daily driver, all-weather SUV. The full-time 4WD system with lock mode suffices for inclement weather. The system features a lockable center differential for deeper snow and other low-traction surfaces.

The Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package is for more serious off-road situations involving steep grades and rock climbing. It includes the continuously variable transaxle but with integral low-ratio, making this system known as CVT2L. This gives the Patriot a Trail Rated 4x4 label and with a low range that engages when the off-road mode is activated. The CVT2L’s effective first gear in low ratio is 19:1, which provides the torque necessary for crawling over moderate rocks and logs and other off-road events. The Off-Road Package also includes 17-inch aluminum wheels and all-terrain 215/60 tires, a full-size spare, skid plates, an air-filtration system, fog lamps, and tow hooks.

The 2.4-liter engine has a maximum gross trailer weight of just 1,000 pounds; 2,000 pounds with the Trailer Two Group.

The Jeep Patriot is meant to attract a new breed of buyers to the vehicle's lineup. It does have its place in the family and the off-road world – the Sport 4x4 I drove along the milder off-roads, but a place, nevertheless. True off-road enthusiasts would probably be happiest with the Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package. The CVT2L system might be understood and appreciated more.

It competes with the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V, but can also be liked to the Honda Element and Scion – again, a lot of it depends on what drivetrain you choose. Jeep buyers and drivers are a loyal group. The Jeep Patriot is DaimlerChrysler Corporation's attempt to try and meet (as well as keep) all driving needs in the family. Newsletter
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