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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
The Patriot could handle steep upgrades with little effort
lively, if vocal”
When equipped with the CVT, the Patriot accelerates sluggishly”
For 2010, the Jeep Patriot remains relatively untouched compared to last year’s model. For this year, we see the return of the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 158 horsepower in the base Patriot Sport 4x2, but it still 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 still not peppy. Both are offered with a five-speed manual or CVT automatic, and the Patriot can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive.
In fact, acceleration can be a chore, rather than a joy with the CVT powertrain. Edmunds explains that "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 concurs, reporting that there is “adequate pull from a stop with either transmission, though models with the CVT struggle in passing and merging."
For most people, the 172-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine included in the rest of the line will be much more appealing—it’s more energetic, although still 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 of time. Automobile is ultimately not impressed by the CVT, describing it as "less work but also less amusing" than the five-speed manual transmission available on the 2.4-liter Patriot. Edmunds also prefers the manual transmission available with the larger engine, noting that the "power delivery feels more energetic and linear with the manual gearbox."
Unlike some SUVs and larger vehicles in general, the 2010 Patriot is easy to drive and park, thanks to its compact-car size and well-defined corners. Although the body leans some, it doesn't seem out of place on a curvy road and offers good, communicative steering. According to Edmunds, "the 2010 Jeep Patriot shows some body roll, but overall the Patriot takes corners confidently with a firm and controlled ride." ConsumerGuide describes the on-road ride as "comfortable and stable" and the steering as "accurate” and “natural-feeling."
When it comes to off-roading performance, once again this depends on how much money you are willing to pay on top of the Patriot’s basic asking price. 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. 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. 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 that 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 2010 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. Meanwhile, 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.
If you can live with the unsophisticated and rather sluggish powertrain performance (or skip the CVT), there's a lot left to like about the 2010 Jeep Patriot; it handles well, and there's some off-road capability.