The Jeep Patriot is the brainchild of the old Chrysler administration, which sought to expand the most iconic car brand’s portfolio. Building on the Dodge Caliber architecture, they came to market in 2007 with a small 4x4 named Patriot and a Jeep-style variant of the Caliber named Compass.
In order to endow the former with some sense of ruggedness and capability, designers penned a boxy silhouette with clean, angular lines in pure SUV fashion. In fact, the idea was to pay tribute to the late Cherokee. The compact yet muscular body also likened the four-wheel drive Patriot to another small SUV at the time, the Subaru Forester.
Both vehicles were indeed similarly sized and powered (give or take one horsepower). However, pricing and build quality were definitely not on the same par. As far as entry-level SUVs go, the Jeep Patriot became the king of all affordable (read: cheap) 4x4s.
In a strange twist, Subaru introduced a completely-redesigned Forester in 2009. Longer, roomier and more generously equipped than its predecessor, it marked a radical departure from the original design launched way back in 1998 — nearly a decade before the birth of the Patriot.
Did the latter come too late to the party? Did it fail to respond adequately to consumer trends? I don’t think so. Just look at the sales figures over the first half of 2010: roughly one out of three Jeep customers chooses the Patriot.
Still the King of affordability
In the wake of Chrysler’s return from bankruptcy, Jeep executives wisely decided to keep prices low and affordable. Believe it or not, the base model (Sport) with 2.0L 4-cylinder engine and two-wheel drive proves cheaper than a Toyota Corolla S! And at $17,795, the 2010 Jeep Patriot North Edition with 4WD undercuts the competition by about $5K.
Buyers after neat fit and finish, premium features and a stronger reputation for quality and reliability will likely opt for one of the Patriot’s rivals despite the much higher prices. Conversely, those who focus on affordability and don’t demand Mercedes-like luxury may very well find satisfaction in the little Jeep.
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