- Great styling bestows rugged Jeep looks to a carlike vehicle
- Handling and maneuverability of a small car
- Easy to park
- Excessive engine noise on acceleration or in hilly terrain
- Road noise on coarse surfaces
- Interior has too much hard plastic
Safe and city-friendly, yet tough enough for weekend camping—and bargain-priced—the 2008 Jeep Patriot has a lot going for it.
The 2008 Jeep Patriot is the Chrysler brand's new small crossover vehicle, mechanically similar to both the more softly styled Jeep Compass and the more carlike Dodge Caliber.
Two different engines power the 2008 Jeep Patriot, depending on the model; both are offered with a five-speed manual or CVT automatic, and the Patriot can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 158 horsepower comes with the base Sport 4x2, but it provides barely adequate performance. The 172-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that's included in the rest of the line is considerably more energetic but not peppy. Both of the engines can be very loud during hard acceleration with the CVT, as it allows the engine to rev near redline for a sustained period.
Handling and maneuverability, surprisingly, are strengths. The 2008 Jeep Patriot has good, communicative steering, and although the body leans some, it doesn't seem out of place on a curvy road. And with clearly defined corners, it's easy to park--and it fits into small spaces, also thanks to its compact-car size.
The Patriot's interior is basic, but attractive and sturdy-looking. There's an abundance of hard plastic, but it fits the Patriot's very purposeful design, and it looks like it would clean up well. Seating is well laid out; front seats aren't that supportive, but due to the boxy shape, there's plenty of headroom in front plus but plenty of head and legroom in back for adults. Just two adults will fit comfortably in the 2008 Jeep Patriot, due to the narrower body and lack of shoulder room.
Several innovative features in the 2008 Jeep Patriot include a rechargeable flashlight that stores in the rear cargo area and speakers that fold out from the back hatch, for tailgating entertainment. The cargo floor is rubberized and cleans up easily.
The Sport model comes quite simply equipped, with manual-winding windows, but air conditioning and a CD sound system are standard. The 2008 Jeep Patriot Limited steps up to power accessories, heated leather seats, keyless entry, cruise control, a 115-volt power outlet, and other extras.
A Trail Rated package for the 2008 Jeep Patriot adds a tougher suspension and boosts ground clearance by an inch. Furthermore, it brings a low range for the transmission, skid plates, heavy-duty cooling, and hill descent control.
The 2008 Jeep Patriot includes a very generous list of safety features for the price; electronic stability control with electronic roll mitigation is standard, along with front side airbags and side curtain airbags. The Patriot fared well in the federal government's crash tests, with four- and five-star ratings for frontal protection and five stars for side impact. The insurance industry hasn't tested the Patriot, but the structurally similar Dodge Caliber was given the Marginal rating in the IIHS side impact test.