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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
We can't think of a better replacement for the Cherokee
The Patriot could handle steep upgrades with little effort
The Patriot ends up being one of the best small crossover SUVs in terms of off-road capability
The 2008 Jeep Patriot's four-cylinder engines offer underwhelming performance, though it has a light handling touch and an available off-road package.
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. Automobile characterizes the Patriot's 2.4-liter engine's performance as "lively, if vocal" when equipped with the five-speed manual transmission.
The smaller 158-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 141 pound-feet of torque requires the CVT (continuously variable transmission). The advantage of the CVT is its ability to seamlessly and continuously change the gear ratio to keep the engine in its powerband rather than having a limited number of gears to step through. Although the CVT can keep the smaller engine near its power peak, it's still a small engine, and either engine with the CVT is at a disadvantage when the 2008 Jeep Patriot is compared to its peers. In fact, Edmunds states, "When equipped with the CVT, the Patriot accelerates sluggishly compared with other compact SUVs, and the lack of fixed ratios keeps the revs on a noisy boil." ConsumerGuide goes on to say, "Adequate pull from a stop with either transmission, though models with the CVT struggle in passing and merging."
In 2008, Jeep also offers a five-speed manual transmission with the Patriot. Edmunds prefers the manual transmission available with the larger engine, noting that the "power delivery feels more energetic and linear with the manual gearbox." Automobile echoes the sentiment by describing the CVT as "less work but also less amusing" when compared to the five-speed manual.
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.
Kelley Blue Book reports that that 2008 Patriot line offers an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway when equipped with the 2.0-liter engine and automatic transmission. The 2.4-liter powerplant ranges from 19/21 mpg with the "4WD, automatic, off-road package" to 23/28 mpg when equipped with "2WD, manual."
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. ConsumerGuide describes the on-road ride as "comfortable and stable" and the steering as "Accurate, natural-feeling." According to Edmunds, "the 2008 Jeep Patriot shows some body roll, but overall the Patriot takes corners confidently with a firm and controlled ride."
In reference to the Patriot's off-road ability, Edmunds goes on to say with the optional off-road package, the Jeep Patriot can "tame trails and hills that would be off-limits to most competitors in its class." The Freedom Drive II option available with the CVT gives the Jeep Patriot a plethora of off-road-oriented features like low-range gearing, hill descent control, and extra ground clearance. Automobile refers to the Patriot equipped with the Freedom Drive II package as "not Rubicon-ready, but...actually pretty good off-road."
The 2008 Jeep Patriot's powertrains leave a lot to be desired, but steering feels good, and there’s some off-road capability built in.