The 2011 Jeep Patriot is one of those well-built, affordable SUVs with fine off-road performance that, through no fault of its own, is simply surpassed by highly popular crossovers that deliver a silky smooth ride. The Patriot opens at $15,995 and sells on the high end for $23,895. It delivers 23 mpg around town, and 29 on the highway. The Patriot's main rivals are the Kia Sportage, which has more standard features and a slightly better interior for only $500 more; and the Subaru Forester, which has standard all-wheel drive for $2,000 more.
The standard engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 172 hp. (There's an available 2.0-liter on 2WD models with 158 hp.) The standard transmission is a five-speed manual, which reviewers prefer over the optional continuously variable transmission. Reviewers don't find any of the engine / transmission combinations to be particularly peppy, but all are competent and for Jeep devotees, comfortable and solid. Front-wheel drive is the standard choice, but the Freedom Drive 1 and Freedom Drive II Off-Road Group put 4WD on the table. Off-road, the Patriot can go toe-to-toe with pretty much any contender.
With its distinctive seven-slot grille and trademark rectangular body, the appearance is all Jeep and all gorgeous. Reviewers and drivers alike love the boxy charm. Inside, there are some negatives, like cramped-feeling rear seats, and a fairly thin number of standard features, but the cargo space is impressive at 23 cubic feet with the seats in use and 54.2 when the rear seats are down. The cabin has a nice match of soft plastics and stainless accents. Options include Chrysler's Uconnect voice command system and flip down tailgate speakers.
The 2011 Patriot was awarded a score of "good" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for frontal offset, side impact, and roof strength tests. (The same score went to the Patriot with the optional side torso bags.) Standard safety features include advanced multi-stage front airbags, supplemental side curtain front and rear airbags, electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, and anti-lock brakes.
Overall, the 2011 Patriot is a pleasing combination of affordability, off-road capability, and solid, functional design inside and out. Jeep is an iconic brand that inspires devoted customers who come back model after model. While there are smoother riding, fuller-featured SUVs and crossovers out there, many people will go with the Patriot just because it is a Jeep. At least take this one for a test drive. For the price, it's a high-value buy that will return excellent performance.