After looking at the Jeep Liberty and taking it out for a brief test drive, we did the same with the Jeep Patriot. Much like the Liberty, the Patriot shows its cost-conscious nature, but not to an excessive degree. In terms of usable space the Patriot, while smaller, actually seemed roomier – both for passengers and cargo – than the Liberty. One unusual aspect of the interior is the depth of the dashboard. Whether it really is that unusually deep from front to back or not, it seemed odd.
The Patriot’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) takes some getting used to, as it doesn’t have gears the way a conventional automatic transmission does. At anything but light throttle the combination of more engine noise from the 2.4-liter inline four cylinder and high revs while the CVT catches up gets a bit alarming. It makes you wonder if maybe you were trying to pull away from a stoplight in neutral. A conventional automatic (not offered) or the available five speed manual would be preferable. Mileage estimates are better with the manual than the CVT, but still decent with the flexible-flyer drive.
Better space than the Liberty, better mileage than the Liberty, too. While we still many more contestants to hear from, it looks as though the Patriot has the early lead.
Next up, the Ford Escape.