The 2009 Jeep Patriot's four-cylinder engines offer underwhelming performance, though it has a light handling touch and an available off-road package.
The Patriot is available in either front- or all-wheel-drive versions, and with either a five-speed manual or automatic 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.
Two different engines are offered. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 158 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque comes with the base Sport 4x2, but it provides barely adequate performance. Although the CVT can keep the smaller engine near its power peak, it's still little, and either engine with the CVT is at a disadvantage when the 2009 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."
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 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.
In addition to the CVT in the 2.4-liter Patriot is a five-speed manual transmission. 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.
With clearly defined corners, the 2009 Patriot is easy to park—and it fits into small spaces, thanks to its compact-car size. Although the body leans some, it doesn't seem out of place on a curvy road and offers drivers good, communicative steering. ConsumerGuide describes the on-road ride as "comfortable and stable" and the steering as "Accurate, natural-feeling." According to Edmunds, "the 2009 Jeep Patriot shows some body roll, but overall the Patriot takes corners confidently with a firm and controlled ride."
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." 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." A Trail Rated package for the 2009 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 2009 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,” says Kelley Blue Book.