Unmistakably Jeep, and with a name like ‘Patriot’, unmistakably American. However, we’re not American and neither are we particularly patriotic towards the good ‘ol US of A. So does this mean the refreshed 2009 Jeep Patriot 2.0 CRD Limited has entered hostile SACarFan territory? Initially maybe, but at the end of the day, the Jeep grew on us and we were the ones who tentatively held up the white flag.
What looks like a sculptured shoe box, has two round headlights and a seven-slot radiator grille? Every Jeep made since April 1942 in the midst of WW2. It is said that the number of people worldwide who can recognise the distinctive Jeep grille is second only to the number who can recognize Mickey Mouse, and that the Jeep brand is the most famous brand known worldwide other than Coke. We tend to agree and are fans of the Jeep’s no nonsense, rough and ready looks. The Patriot is no different, its sharp edges and boxy shape make it stand out from the rest of the compact SUV crowd, along with the chunky 5-spoke alloy wheels.
The Jeep Patriot is deceptively compact, at 4 408 mm long and 1 785 mm wide, however, once seated behind the steering-wheel, this compact SUV feels far bigger. Due to its ‘sculptured shoe box’ design, the square edges of the Patriot mean interior space is maximised by components having been set into all edges of the vehicle. The result is generous head room throughout, with enough leg room for all passengers. The seating position is high and coupled with the forward facing view of a long bonnet, square edges and mamoth side mirrors, contributes to the feeling of driving a much larger vehicle. Incidentally, those large side mirrors provide a comprehensive view of what’s gong on behind you, but beware the setting sun at your back. Cabin noise has been reduced in the latest Patriot courtesy of added insulation in the engine compartment and cabin floor. The result is a good balance between an engine note which does not intrude on your conversation and yet provides feedback to the driver.
All the space upfront seems to have compromised the Patriot’s luggage space in the rear. Just 334-litres are available with the seats in an upright position and 1 277-litres when folded down, although it must be mentioned that a full-size spare wheel is stored in the boot, which we prefer to the ‘space saver’ alternative. The front seats in the Jeep Patriot CRD Limited are comfortable, with adjustable lumbar support and adequate side bolsters. Rear passengers won’t be as happy though, with the bench seat providing little or no support.
Onboard computer, or Vehicle Information Centre as Jeep calls it, with built-in compass; heated front seats; multi-function steering-wheel and radio/cd with auxillary connection, are all standard on the Patriot CRD Limited. Occupants are taken care of in emergency situations by driver, passenger and side-curtain airbags, along with electronic brake assist, traction control and electronic roll mitigation.
So you’re probably thinking that passengers of the Jeep might be sitting pretty, well, yes and no. You see, all the standard features and creature comforts are included, its just that their solid fitting isn’t. Take for example the gear lever. A plastic, chrome coated lid indicating the gear shift pattern, fits like a kind of plug on top of the gear stick. But where these two components meet is a large plastic seam, which constantly rubbed us up the wrong way on each shift. The centre armrest is covered in faux-leather trim, which looks and feels acceptable, but when your hand finds the edge, it becomes apparent that the glue used to secure it may not be up to the task. And while your hand is on that centre armrest, a firm grip and a left/right flick, is enough to unsettle the transmission tunnel cover almost to the point where it meets the dashboard. And still on that armrest, it somewhat over shadows the handbrake, so when using it to pull-off on an incline it can get in the way. Overall it’s the plastics and the questionable fit and finish thereof that let the Patriot down.
The Jeep Patriot CRD Limited feels like a big SUV but thankfully its more nimble. The ride quality is comfortable and the Jeep soaks up the majority of bumps without effort. The steering is light, making the vehicle easy to manouvre and although responsive, the steering lacks feel. The Patriot always goes where you point it, its just that when negotiating a fast sweep for example, you’re thinking ‘stay the course’ but the Patriot doesn’t reply with a reassuring ‘yes we can’. Fast is one thing the Patriot CRD isn’t, with plenty of body roll letting you know when it’s out of its comfort zone. Thankfully the 1 570 kg Jeep stops far quicker than it accelerates, with ventilated discs all round providing adequate feel.
Off the beaten track the Patriot’s four-wheel drive abilities are typically compact SUV. Limited ground clearance means entry and exit angles are shallower than more dedicated 4×4′s, but pick your line over the bumps and the Patriot will take you places without the battle scars to prove it. The Patriot is equipped with Jeep’s Freedom Drive I™ technology, which is an active four-wheel-drive system with lock mode. The Jeep functions as a conventional front-wheel drive until such time as a loss of traction is detect, at which point the a lockable centre coupling is activated to supply power to all four wheels to restore traction. The 215/60/17 tyres when combined with Jeep’s Freedom Drive I™ offer positive traction and your off-road adventures are likely to be limited by undulating terrain rather than the road surface conditions. Incidentally, to protect the drive train from unnecessary strain, the diff-lock automatically dis-engages once speed rises above 18 km/h but will re-engage as soon as any loss of traction is detected.
The Patriot is powered by a 2,0-litre 16v DOHC common-rail diesel enigne, which produces 103 kW at 4 000 rpm and 310 N.m of torque between 1 750 and 2 500 rpm. The responsiveness of the diesel motor impressed and available torque made cruising and overtaking on the open road a pleasure. However, we found the Jeep pulled best from slightly higher than the claimed 2 500 rpm at around 3 000 rpm. The Patriot CRD Limited is fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission, which provides smooth and efficient changes, albeit via a rough-around-the-edges gear knob. The 2,0-litre diesel will heave the Patriot CRD from zero to 100 km/h in 11 seconds and on to a top speed of 189 km/h. Jeep claims a combined fuel consumption of 5.5l/100km, although this seems a bit ambitious as we managed closer to 7.4l/100km during our time with the car. Jeep reportedly has a StarTec ECU performance upgrade available for this diesel motor, which increases power to 132 kW and torque to 360 N.m.
What we like…
- Bold styling with five-spoke 17-inch alloys.
- Willing diesel engine with 310 N.m of torque.
- Comfortable ride.
What we would like…
- Improved fit & finish to bring the Patriot on par with its competitors.
- Improved steering feel and less body roll.
- Another 100/200-litres of luggage space to accomodate growing families.
- Better sound quality from the radio/cd.
|Base Price||R294 900|
|Price As Tested||R304 400|
|Warranty||3 year / 100 000km|
|Engine Capacity||1968 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||4-cylinders, in-line|
|Power||103 kW @ 4 000rpm|
|Torque||310 Nm @ 1 750 – 2 500rpm|
|Drive type||Active four-wheel drive with selectable lock|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 11 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||189 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||5.5 l/100km (claimed combined)|