Posted Nov 30th 2010 10:59PM
Trail Rated Yet Street Friendly
When I look at the 2010 Jeep Patriot, it vaguely reminds me of a smaller and more refined version of the Cherokee SUV that I longed to own as a girl growing up. Its boxy exterior and signature grille take me back to when I begged my mom to buy one of these off-roading wonders as a family car. Even though it was pretty much out of the question, the combination of the Cherokee's gas-guzzling 4.0L engine and not-so-road friendly suspension were an even harder sell to a mom who just wanted a comfortable "city car." I guess it's not really mother-like-daughter in this case.
But if the Patriot was around 'back in the day,' I'm sure it wouldn't have been that hard of a sell. After all, this Trail Rated yet road friendly vehicle can traverse in unpaved territories yet also drive smoothly on the city streets. And because it is based on the same platform as the Compass, it offers a rather comfortable ride with available 4WD capabilities without breaking the bank when it comes to fueling.
In order to not break the bank while fueling, the Patriot can be outfitted with the choice of two different engines. There is the base 2.0L four-cylinder or a larger optional 2.4L DOHC, 16-valve, Dual VVT four that gets outfitted on the North Edition, my tester. And of the two transmissions, this particular Patriot came with the optional automatic "shifting" CVT2 Continuously Variable Transmission with AutoStick manual mode, not the standard 5-speed manual. The 2.4L engine coupled with the 4WD system and CVT gearbox uses an estimated 10.6L/100km in the city and 9.4L/100km on the highway; a rating that isn't too bad for a full-time 4WD vehicle of its size.
Related Gallery2010 Jeep Patriot
When behind the wheel of the North Edition, the 172 horsepower and 165 lb-ft of torque created by the engine seemed quite reasonable for everyday driving. I didn't feel it was underpowered when it came to running around and doing the daily grind. It did need an extra bit of coaxing when accelerating up hills, but other than that it did just fine. I did, however, notice that the cabin gets a little noisy when the engine had to work harder. To solve that problem, I adjusted the volume of the stereo system and let the musical stylings of whomever was on the radio drown the revs away!
And speaking of cabins, the Patriot, which received a revamping for the 2009 model year, does not have the most exciting interior I've seen, but it does the job, going about its duties with simplicity. I would have liked to see more colour variation or even some more metallic trim just to break up the monotony in the sea of black plastic that engulfed all the gauges and knobs. But even in that sea of black, the cabin is easy to maneuver in and I never found myself feeling lost.
While I wasn't crazy about dash, there were a couple of other redeeming features that I did quite like. The first being the multi-tonal cloth upholstered seats. This gave the cabin more depth and they looked good, too. Another feature that was pretty cool was the reclining rear seats. These come standard on the North Edition and provide extra comfort and headroom to the lucky individuals sitting in the rear. The only downfall? The reclining seats are subject to the 60/40 split, so if the person sitting in the middle wants to be more upright than the person by the door, there could be some coin-tossing involved to settle the qualm.
Moving from the inside out, the North Edition proudly sports the Trail Rated badge because of its low range crawl mode and improved traction performance. This can be attributed to the optional Freedom-Drive I package. This package includes the active full-time 4x4 system and a selectable 4WD LOCK; a feature easily activated by the pull of a lever which locks the system and divides torque equally between the front and rear axles for added traction at speeds under 15 km/h.
The North Plus package, which was also part of the optional equipment on the North Edition Patriot, includes a set of P215/65R17 all-season tires and 17-inch aluminum wheels, which helped with traction, stability and style. It also included heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and speed control helping to make me more comfortable behind the wheel. Gotta love the heated seats, especially on cold, rainy West Coast days.
Overall, the 2010 Jeep Patriot North Edition offers its driver a taste of Trail Rated nature with a very reasonable the price tag. The North Edition has a starting MSRP of $19,295 and goes up from there depending on what kind of extras you're looking for. Its agreeable suspension, cool interior features and fuel economy make it a great pick for those looking for a city car that has the ability to perform off-road as well.
Alexandra Straub, Canadian Auto Press