SOME people need a full-on 4×4 with low range, but the majority of SUV owners merely desire a vehicle that will cope with poor/wet/muddy/sandy road conditions. And so, over the last decade, soft-roaders have taken the market by storm.
One of our picks when it was new was the Jeep Patriot. It has rugged looks and a mean, low roofline, yet interior space is uncompromised. The Americans like using buzz words (all registered trademarks, of course), so the clumsily named Freedom Drive I system is fitted to the manual-gearbox models and uses a clutch-operated locking centre differential to apportion the four-wheel-drive traction. Freedom Drive II uses a CVT gearbox incorporating a lower gear ratio for more serious stuff. The 2,4-litre petrol engine comes courtesy of Hyundai, while the 2,0-litre turbodiesel is sourced from Volkswagen. A mild facelift was implemented in 2009 and the diesel version was dropped during 2010.
Apart from a couple of intake air-sensor failures, no major problems were highlighted.
TRANSMISSION AND STEERING
One owner had to have his vehicle’s CVT gearbox replaced, but this is uncommon. The warranty covered all costs. Jatco supplies this transmission. In fairness, the manual gearbox had more problems than the CVT. Watch out for a whining noise in top gear on the former.
SUSPENSION, STEERING AND BRAKES
The front ball joints/lower control arms can wear out at low mileages. Listen for creaks in the rear suspension that are caused by the handbrake-cable routing and brackets.
INTERIOR AND BODYWORK
A few water-ingress problems were mentioned.
Many owners experienced no issues, while some owners’ vehicles had the above-mentioned maladies, so Patriot ownership is something of a mixed bag. Also note that the Compass is basically the same vehicle with different styling. Fuel consumption of the 2,4-litre is not as bad as expected, with a CAR index of 10,44 litres/100 km. The diesel, of course, was much better at under 7,0 litres/100 km.
Also look at:
Hyundai ix35, Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Land Rover Freelander, Nissan X-Trail, Renault Koleos, VW Tiguan