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  • 2011 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4X4

    Posted on March 22nd, 2011 ninarussin

    Versatile SUV gets a facelift and new interior

    By Nina Russin

    2011 Jeep Patriot

    The Jeep Patriot has become a polarizing vehicle, much like its Wrangler sibling. Patriot fans love the sport-utility vehicle’s value pricing and off-road capability. Critics point to the lack of engine power and inconsistent fit and finish.

    This year, Jeep addressed some of those concerns with a significant redesign. Designers revised the car’s front and rear fascias as well as the interior, paying more attention to fit, finish and touch-points throughout the vehicle.

     The Patriot’s redesigned back end conceals the gas tank and muffler. The new front fascia links the Patriot to other models in the Jeep line-up, including the upscale Grand Cherokee.

    Fit and finish throughout the interior is much better. Designers paid close attention to the steering wheel, knobs, buttons and door handles Soft center console and dashboard surfaces are more pleasant to live with.

    The Latitude sits in the middle of three available grades. Base price for the four-wheel drive model is $17,695, not including a $700 destination charge.

    Most buyers will want to add a premium package that upgrades the standard wheels to 17-inch alloy rims, and adds air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, heated seats, a 115-volt outlet, leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant audio controls and heated side mirrors ($3700). Front seat side airbags are also an option, included in a package which also adds tire pressure monitoring and a digital information display ($750).

    Roof rails with crossbars and a tonneau cover cost $500.

    The off-road package on the test car includes all terrain tires, a brake lock differential, full-sized spare, fuel tank and transmission skid plates, tow hooks, wiring for a trailer harness, and hill descent control ($1500).

    A special automatic transmission comes with the package, adding a crawl ratio for low-speed maneuvers.

    A 30 gigabyte media center, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port and satellite radio bring the price as tested to $25,410. Options on the test car add over 25 percent to its sticker price, which strikes me as a rather severe jump. I’d rather see basic convenience features, including keyless entry, power windows, door locks and air conditioning included in the base price.

    Road trip to Tucson

    2011 Jeep Patriot

    I took the new Patriot Latitude on a road trip to Tucson, and spent the rest of the week driving the car around the Phoenix metro area, including some mild off-road trails. Having finished the test drive, I’m still not certain as to whether I agree with the car’s fans or its naysayers.

    Even at $25,000 and change, the Patriot is a bargain. When the folks at Jeep say that their vehicle can navigate severe off-road terrain, they mean it in every sense of the word.

    Nine inches of ground clearance and the ability to ford 19-inches of water are nothing to sneeze at. If Grandma lives in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, the Patriot is capable of carrying her kids over the river and through the woods.

    On the other hand, I’m not a huge fan of the Patriot’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission. The engine, for a car of the Patriot’s size and weight, is underpowered.

    I noticed some tappet clatter during warm-up, although the engine remained vibration-free. Standard chain drive is more durable than a timing belt, eliminating an expensive maintenance procedure at about 60,000 miles.

    The continuously variable transmission eliminates the hunting and harsh downshifts of traditional gearboxes. But it also feels a bit sloppy.

    Average fuel economy according to the EPA is 21 miles-per-gallon: not terrible for a four-wheel drive truck weighing 3200 pounds, but nothing to write home about either.

    2011 Jeep Patriot

    Visibility around the car’s exterior is good. I had no problems monitoring traffic in the adjacent lanes, or merging onto the highway. Visibility out the back is pretty good for a high-profile vehicle.

    The fully-independent suspension provides a pleasantly compliant ride, without feeling mushy. Response from the power rack-and-pinion steering system is good at all speeds. I was pleasantly surprised by the Patriot’s 36-foot turning radius: quite good for a vehicle of its size. I was able to make U-turns on four-lane city streets with no difficulty.

    Front disc and rear drum brakes work fine on dry pavement and dirt. But drums tend to accumulate water, giving them uneven stopping performance in rain and snow. They are also more difficult to service, since rust ridges that build up over the years can make the drums hard to remove.

    Versatile Interior

    Jeep Patriot Interior

    Jeep designers excel at their functional interiors. The shelf above the Patriot’s glovebox and the 115-volt power point are two examples of what I mean. The cloth upholstery is attractive and more practical for active families than leather.

    Redundant audio and cruise control buttons on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction. Both the center stack screen and gauge cluster are easy to read in bright sunlight. The downloadable hard drive on the test car is intuitive to operate. The same is true for the premium audio system, which includes satellite radio.

    All handles, knobs and buttons are large enough to operate with gloves on. Optional heated seats on the test car keep front-row passengers warm in temperatures extreme.

    The two tall adults who rode in the back seat during the drive to Tucson had plenty of leg, head and hip room. Cupholders behind the center console eliminate what little legroom exists in the center position, making the back seat more comfortable for two passengers than three.

    With the rear seats in place, the cargo area easily held four person’s luggage and some groceries. The seats fold flat in a 60/40 pattern, so the Patriot meets our bicycle friendly standards. Maximum towing capacity with an option package is 2000 pounds: 1500 pounds short of our minimum ALV standard.

    Standard safety

    The Jeep Patriot comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, active front head restraints, antilock brakes, stability control and hill start assist.

    Jeep builds the Patriot in its Belvidere, Illinois assembly plant.

    Likes: A value-priced sport-utility vehicle with a versatile interior and true off-road capability.

    Dislikes: Engine is underpowered for a vehicle of this size and is noisy during start-up.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Jeep
    Model: Patriot Latitude 4X4
    Year: 2011
    Base price: $17,695
    As tested: $25,410
    Horsepower: 172 Hp @ 6000 rpm
    Torque: 165 lbs.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: Yes
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 20/23 mpg city/highway


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