Much better than its Caliber mechanicals would lead you to expect, the Patriot's one of Jeep's best

What is it?

This is the new Jeep Patriot – another in the recent batch of guilt-free SUVs – based, unpromisingly, on the same platform as the Dodge Caliber. Unlike its Compass sibling, the Patriot is styled like a proper Jeep 4x4, and it comes with electronically controlled four-wheel drive.

What’s it like?

Jeep was very keen for us to try this car off-road. Because it does, after all, wear a Jeep badge and amusingly oversized grille on is front, and therefore must – like a Ferrari must be fast – cut the off-road mustard.

And you know, despite all appearances, it does. Sort of. The Patriot is short of ground clearance and axle articulation so it’s not agile enough to go rock crawling, but even on its normal road tyres, the Patriot’s four-wheel-drive system (with an off-road mode that better distributes power and adjusts the ABS) gives it surprising agility and adeptness in muddy conditions.

I suspect that, when it finally gets stuck, a Land Rover Freelander could easily drive to its rescue, but for a Patriot owner to exhaust his car’s abilities, he’d have to be driving somewhere he didn’t mean to be in the first place.

This is, though, primarily a road car, and it’s a much better one than a Caliber. You’d be pressed to know these cars were the same underneath. The Patriot has a smooth, ride and linear steering and performance from its VW-sourced turbodiesel is fine, if a little gruff.

The driving position should be better and interior fit and finish is still hit and miss, but it’s not totally uncompetitive even in these areas. It’s decently priced, too.

Should I buy one?

300C aside, the Patriot is probably the best car Chrysler/Jeep brings to the UK. Somehow Jeep has found a better use for the woeful Caliber’s mechanicals, and they’ve created something that drives surprisingly well, both on the road and off it.

If you’re a fan of the Jeep brand, the Patriot might just be the best object you could find for your affection right now. And if you like the traditional, rugged, big grilled Jeep aesthetic, you’ll probably love the way it looks too.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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