Our trip back to Scottsdale was a good hour or so of highway, then driving in town during rush hour traffic. The CVT was a whole different ball game than the 5-speed. The engine and CVT do a constant dance, varying rpm's and ratios, constantly finding the optimal combination of engine speed and pulley ratio. When you really romp on the gas, the engine tends to stay over 4,000 rpm, eliciting a roar under the hood. Under certain conditions, it would stay up high for long lengths, tricking your brain into thinking that you were not gaining speed. A look at the speedometer, however, proved otherwise. It's a strange sensation. Being that the CVT does not change gears, there is no seat-of-pants feeling to indicate acceleration like you'd feel in a traditional automatic transmission. Despite the high-revs, Jeep claims a 6-8% mpg gain by using the CVT setup.
The last bit of road we traveled was a 6% uphill grade that went on for a few miles. The CVT managed the hill well, maintaining a speed of over 70mph the whole way.
In town, the 5-speed definitely felt more nimble, though, as mentioned, without actually timing 0-30mph runs, it was hard to confirm that the CVT was really slower.
Inside, the Patriot's dash and console are very much like the Compass. Gauges and controls are all well laid-out, the cup holders actually work, and the center arm rest slides forward and back to adjust for different seating positions - though moving it forward all the way obscures the rear cup holder.
Interior fit and finish is on par with the rest of the current Jeep lineup, meaning it's not perfect, but it's very good. Materials are also on par, that is to say the feel of the plastics leave a bit to be desired. Surfaces are very flat and smooth without much tactile feel.
This is not to say that the interior is unattractive or cheap. On the contrary. In fact, it's better than many other vehicles in its price range and even higher.
Cargo capacity is awesome for a ute this size. The rear seats fold almost completely flat and the front passenger seat does, as well, allowing you to carry 8ft lumber on the passenger side!
When you don't want to hear the call of the wild, you can crank up the 458 watt Boston Acoustics stereo with CD and factory-installed SIRIUS satellite radio.
Like many newer cars now, the head features a mini input jack for MP3 players. When you're tailgating, you can even use the flip-down rear liftgate speakers to pump out the jams. The center arm rest even has a flip-up holder for your player or cell phone.
Speaking of phones, UConnect allows a Bluetooth phone to be used hands-free through the stereo. We've used this feature and it's awesome. You don't even have to take your phone out of your pocket. It automatically pairs with the Jeep and if the phone rings, the stereo turns off the music and you hear the phone through the speakers. Way cool.
But It's Not Hard-Core
OK, so any of you guys that we told not to read on that are still reading are probably thinking, "well, it's no hard-core Jeep" and you're absolutely right. But keep in mind that it's not trying to be hard-core. That's what the Wrangler is for.
Also keep in mind that the Patriot's fore bearer (the Cherokee) also came in a two wheel drive version.
So what's the point of sticking the Jeep badge on something not hardcore?
Well, the dyed-in-the-wool Jeep folks may not understand, but there are a lot of people that don't need all the capability of a Wrangler, or have the budget for one, for that matter. These drivers also need room to carry their family, their dog and their outdoor gear - or maybe a tuba. Don't forget, there will also be owners jumping ship from other brands and this will be their first Jeep. Give 'em a taste and maybe they'll move up the line next time, right?
It's a Jeep
So I put a few hundred miles on the Patriots and have sat here for a week pondering its Jeepness. I think I have to not only consider what "Jeep" means historically, but also what it means today.
In terms of history, let's not forget that some of the earliest Jeeps were two wheel drive. While the CJ's and MB's were working hard on the farm, the family was getting to town in their Jeepsters. Jeeps were not only reliable transportation, but hard-working tools.
Today, Jeep has many challenges and challengers. With so many vehicles on the market, it's hard to make a choice. Drivers want great fuel economy, lots of bells and whistles, power, handling, great looks and a reasonable price. Jeep owners also want to be confident that their vehicle can get them out of (and maybe into) trouble when they need them to. They need a hero.
The Jeep Patriot fits that bill. It's great around town, looks rugged and performs well in most off-road situations its owners are likely to throw it into. It certainly went off-road to places its competition would fear to tread. In this regard,
it is worthy of the Jeep name.
Now drivers wanting an outdoorsy vehicle with good road manners at a reasonable price have an option - the very capable 2007 Jeep Patriot.
Be sure to visit www.MK74.com - All Patriot All The Time
Michael Cohn is the founder and Editor of ROCKCRAWLER.com. Michael has owned six Jeeps but especially enjoys driving someone else's. If you'd like your 4x4 flogged, contact
Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.