First Drive: Jeep's Full 2011 Lineup

A. J. Mueller

2011 Jeep Patriot

What's New? Not surprisingly, the 2011 Jeep Patriot has virtually the same changes as the 2011 Jeep Compass. The two share virtually everything under the exterior sheetmetal, but the Patriot is supposed to be a more stripped-down vehicle that might appeal to buyers who can't afford a Wrangler. Patriot's exterior refresh isn't nearly as impressive as the Compass', but it was always the better looking of the pair, so it needed less help in the first place. All the suspension modifications we detailed on the Compass come to the Patriot, as do the soft-touch materials on the interior and the new steering wheel.

How Does it Drive? Not surprisingly, the Patriot drives like a Compass. It gets a bit quieter, a bit more refined, and a whole lot more solid feeling for 2011, but it's still based on a rather lackluster platform that doesn't excel at on- or off-road driving. The Patriot is the least expensive Jeep and you notice that. Even the Wrangler felt quieter on the road, though the Patriot feels more buttoned-up behind the wheel.

Do I Want One? Sadly, the Patriot's only selling point is price. Now that the Compass arguably looks better and offers a Trail Rated badge with the off-road package, the Patriot has an even smaller niche to play in. As with the Compass, your absolute best bet is to wait and see what Jeep brings to replace this platform in 2012. These twins have pushed the platform about as far as it can go, and it still comes up short in comparison to the rest of the small crossover/SUV segment.

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