The all-new Patriot, Jeep's newest attempt at wooing the crossover market, shares underpinnings with the Compass and Caliber. When the Patriot was first revealed, comparisons with the classic Cherokee were inevitable. After all, at a glance, it would be easy to mistake the new model as a reintroduction of the old.
Cherokee fans may be surprised to learn that the compact Patriot actually has a longer wheelbase, is longer overall, and is taller than that model-but it's powered by a 2.4-liter inline-four, with 55 pound-feet less torque than the Cherokee's extinct inline-six. The four-seat model is available with front or all-wheel drive (it is technically Trail Rated and has a Freedom Drive system), and can tow up to 2000 pounds.
The cabin offers room for five and a rugged attitude. Its list of amenities is somewhat bare-bones, but in that way, the interior has an old-school charm, feeling like those of sport/utilities of the past. Features like stain-resistant seat fabric, non-carpeted floors, and rubber floor mats suggest a go-anywhere mindset. Sirius Satellite Radio and leather-wrapped steering wheel are optional.
Will true Jeep fans accept a CVT as an acceptable transmission for off-roading? Will the Patriot lure new buyers to the Jeep brand? We've been looking forward to the chance to try out the third model on this platform, to find out if it can hold its own off-road and in the face of some rather stiff competition. One thing this Jeep can boast is value -- will that be enough for it to win?
PHOTOS: EXCLUSIVE 2008 JEEP PATRIOT PHOTO GALLERY