2011 Jeep Patriot Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
May 14, 2011

A boxy, roomy, rugged-chic exterior; good maneuverability; and decent off-road ability just might balance out the utter lack of refinement.

While mechanically similar to both the more softly styled Jeep Compass and the more carlike Dodge Caliber, the same-sized Jeep Patriot gets boxier, chunkier styling that both outdoor enthusiasts and urbanites tend to agree is better-looking.

Thankfully, Jeep hasn't significantly changed the exterior of the Patriot, which unlike those other related vehicles, doesn't have any awkward angles. Inside, the Patriot is also very purposeful and simple. Some hints of brightwork added over the past couple of model years have spruced it up from the purely drab it had originally been, but there's still a lot of hard, dull plastic up close. At a few paces back, it's an attractive, sturdy-looking cabin, though.

Relative to most other vehicles you might consider, the CVT-equipped Patriot might seem sluggish and noisy. We'd recommend going with the manual-transmission version, as well as opting for the stronger 172-hp, 2.4-liter engine, as you likely won't see any worse fuel economy for it. Thanks to its compact-car size and well-defined corners, the Patriot is one of the easiest vehicles to park and drive in tight spaces. And at low speeds especially, the steering feels responsive and communicative.

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While base Patriots come with front-wheel drive, there are two different four-wheel drive systems offered. The star of the lineup is Freedom Drive II, which brings a truly Jeep-caliber level of off-road prowess to this vehicle, surprisingly; it includes low-range gearing (through a special version of the CVT), hill descent control, and extra ground clearance—plus a tougher suspension, skid plates, heavy-duty cooling, and hill descent control.

The boxier shape of the Patriot allows an interior that feels larger and is more convenient for cargo, even if its passenger layout is essentially the same as that of the Compass. There's good seating space inside for four adults; you could wedge a narrow-shouldered third into the backseat if need be, though it is strictly compact-class legroom. Cargo space is where the Patriot shines; the tall roofline and boxy proportions make the cargo space behind the backseat more usable, and rear seatbacks fold forward neatly. The front passenger seat also folds forward to accommodate long items.

Interior refinement is disappointing, even next to other vehicles in this class. While interior appointments have been improved over the past several years, engine noise (and sometimes road noise) can still be obtrusive in the Patriot. There are plenty of other practical pluses, though, including excellent outward visibility, for easier and safer parking, and top-notch safety ratings (it's an IIHS Top Safety Pick).

For 2011, the Jeep Patriot comes in three different models—base, Latitude, and Limited—and the primary difference between the three is the level of interior comfort and convenience items. For extras like heated leather seats, keyless entry, cruise control, a 115-volt power outlet, and other extras, you'll need to step up to the Limited; but all Patriot models now include air conditioning, a CD sound system, fog lamps, cruise control, and power accessories.

Top options include remote start, Uconnect Bluetooth with voice control, a universal garage-door opener, and tailgate speakers, as well as an available media center system with 30 gigabytes of music storage. 

7

2011 Jeep Patriot

Styling

With chunky, utilitarian styling, the 2011 Jeep Patriot has an almost timeless appeal that urbanites and off-roaders alike might appreciate.

The Jeep Patriot remains a boxier, chunkier companion to the Compass; both models share most of their underpinnings with the Dodge Caliber but take aim at quite different crowds—with quite different styling being one of those key differences.

From the outside, the Patriot's design is purely utilitarian. The boxy, chunky look fits well next to older Jeep models like the Cherokee and should age well over time; we also like it far better than the closely related Compass, even considering the 'mini-Grand Cherokee' refresh Jeep gave the Compass for 2011. The combination of round headlamps, a version of the traditional Jeep seven-slot grille, and the squared-off, rugged cues isn't much different this year, though Jeep has extended the front and rear fascias somewhat lower, which helps accent the wheel arches.

Inside, the Patriot is also very purposeful and simple. Some hints of brightwork added over the past couple of model years have spruced it up from the purely drab it had originally been, but there's still a lot of hard, dull plastic up close. At a few paces back, it's an attractive, sturdy-looking cabin, though. 

6

2011 Jeep Patriot

Performance

The 2011 Jeep Patriot is by no means a strong road performer, but it does well with tight urban spaces and can be equipped to Jeep's Trail Rated standards.

Between the two four-cylinder engines that are offered on the 2011 Jeep Patriot, you might as well go with the larger, 2.4-liter one. It makes 172 horsepower and considerably more torque than the 158-hp unit in the base Patriot Sport 4x2. No version of the Patriot is peppy, but it's considerably better with the manual transmission; versions with the continuously variable (CVT) automatic are far less enjoyable as the CVT is one of the slowest ones on the market to bring up the revs for passing power or quick sprints into holes in rush-hour traffic. Relative to most other vehicles you might consider, the CVT-equipped Patriot might seem sluggish and noisy.

Thanks to its compact-car size and well-defined corners, the Patriot is one of the easiest vehicles to park and drive in tight spaces. And at low speeds especially, the steering feels responsive and communicative. The Patriot is quite softly sprung, so it's by no means a sporty-feeling vehicle, but with the exception of some bounciness on some types of expressway surfaces the suspension offers a nice ride-versus-handling compromise.

While base Patriots come with front-wheel drive, there are two different four-wheel drive systems offered. The Freedom Drive I system is an active system much like that used in most all-wheel drive cars and crossovers, but it does have a lock mode to help with mud, snow, or sand. The Freedom Drive II option brings a truly Jeep-caliber level of off-road prowess to this vehicle, surprisingly; it includes low-range gearing (through a special version of the CVT), hill descent control, and extra ground clearance—plus a tougher suspension, skid plates, heavy-duty cooling, and hill descent control. 

7

2011 Jeep Patriot

Comfort & Quality

The 2011 Jeep Patriot has one of the more versatile and spacious designs, given its relatively small footprint, but its noisy interior still feels low-rent, even compared to other budget-priced rivals.

While the Jeep Patriot is very closely related to the sleeker but more ordinary-looking Compass, it's the superior design of the two, in our opinion, not just from the exterior, but because its boxier shape allows an interior that feels larger and is more convenient for cargo, even if its passenger layout is essentially the same. There's good seating space inside for four adults; you could wedge a narrow-shouldered third into the backseat if need be, though it is strictly compact-class legroom.

The Patriot does reveal its car-based layout with an especially low front seating position; it's high enough for most to be able to see the front corners of the vehicle, yet not so high to feel tipsy as in more traditional SUV designs.

Cargo space is where the Patriot shines not only compared to the related Compass but to most other very compact utility vehicles; the tall roofline and boxy proportions make the cargo space behind the backseat more usable, and rear seatbacks fold forward neatly. The front passenger seat also folds forward to accommodate long items (an eight-foot ladder, for instance).

While the overall design of the interior hasn't changed, Chrysler has given the Patriot a subtle (yet still significant) set of trim and material upgrades for 2011. The new soft-touch door trim panels (front only, oddly); new padded center armrest; a new steering-wheel design, and thin chrome rings around climate control switches give the Patriot's cabin a lift. That said, it's still one of the most plasticky interiors of any utility vehicle. Admittedly, some will like this; it's probably one of the easiest interiors to clean up and keep clean, and the wet-wipe-friendly cargo floor is rubberized.

Thanks to recent engineering improvements—including more floor padding and better underhood noise isolation—the Patriot is quieter inside than it originally was; however it remains one of the noisier choices inside, and while road and wind noise are reasonably well-damped, the engine noise (especially with the CVT) is obtrusive. 

8

2011 Jeep Patriot

Safety

The 2011 Jeep Patriot should make the cut for those seeking a safe, compact, off-road-capable vehicle.

Thanks in part to its car-based structure and a full roster of safety features, the 2011 Jeep Patriot is a very secure pick among smaller utility vehicles. Under the previous federal crash tests, which tended to be more generous, the Patriot earned a mix of four- and five-star test results. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards the Patriot with 'good' scores in frontal and side tests. Roof strength testing, which the IIHS has started to conduct over the past year, also yields a result of 'good,' and overall the Patriot is an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Overall, the list of standard safety features in the Patriot is particularly strong for the price; standard items include electronic stability control with roll mitigation, front side airbags, and side-curtain bags. Models with four-wheel drive add off-road brake traction control and hill descent control.

Outward visibility is very impressive in the Patriot, thanks to the boxy, upright design and plenty of (mostly unobstructed) greenhouse. Its lower ride height and clear corners, relative to some other vehicles in this class, also means that parallel parking and driveway 

9

2011 Jeep Patriot

Features

There's an impressive list of features available in the Patriot, but it can drive the cost up by thousands.

For 2011, the Jeep Patriot comes in three different models—base, Latitude, and Limited—and the primary difference between the three is the level of interior comfort and convenience items.

For extras like heated leather seats, keyless entry, cruise control, a 115-volt power outlet, and other extras, you'll need to step up to the Limited; but all Patriot models now include air conditioning, a CD sound system, fog lamps, cruise control, and power accessories.

Patriot shoppers who want more than front-wheel drive have a choice of two four-wheel drive systems—Freedom Drive I, and Freedom Drive II Off-Road. The latter includes a low range plus a heavier-duty suspension, skid plates, and other enhancements. A new option for 2011 is an All-Weather Capability Group, bringing 17-inch all-terrain tires, an engine block heater, tow hooks, and all-season floor mats.

Once you consider the Latitude model you can option up to remote start, Uconnect Bluetooth with voice control, a universal garage-door opener, and tailgate speakers, as well as an available media center system with 30 gigabytes of music storage. The top Limited model adds automatic climate control, an upgraded media center, Sirius Satellite Radio, and big 18-inch wheels.

The Patriot, just as the related Caliber and Compass offer a couple of market-standout features: A rechargeable flashlight stores neatly in the rear cargo area, and foldout speakers aim to entertain when tailgating. 

7

2011 Jeep Patriot

Fuel Economy

The 2011 Jeep Patriot looks frugal next to traditional off-roaders, but as a commuter it's not all that green.

The 2011 Jeep Patriot is certainly a more fuel-efficient pick compared to serious, more truck-like off-roaders, but as a city grocery-getter it's not all that frugal; EPA city ratings range from 20 to 23 mpg, while highway ratings can range from 23 to 29 mpg, depending on whether which transmission you choose and which drive system you get. Models with the Freedom Drive II package are the least efficient, with ratings of just 20/23.

If you're comparing the Patriot with a more carlike hatchback or wagon model and are just planning to get front-wheel drive, you could probably do better; but the four-wheel drive version, even with its lower mpg numbers, stands as one of the greener choice for those who need to do true (but occasional) trail crawling. 

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June 5, 2015
2011 Jeep Patriot 4WD 4-Door Sport

reliable decent gas milage jeep looks

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had mine almost 4 years, no promblems , have 30,000 miles on it,first brake job, 5 speed trans, gud value for monies spent
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