Ride & Handling

Compact crossovers may be car-based, but they don't ride like cars. With this in mind, the Patriot's ride quality is decent — better than the firm-riding Honda CR-V, but not close to the Ford Escape, which I consider the high-water mark for ride comfort in this class.

Despite a tendency to wander a bit at highway speeds, steering is acceptable, and handling is pretty good — definitely more tidy than that of the Hyundai Tucson. Again, this isn't a car, and you feel the high center of gravity, even in the Limited trim level, which has 8.1 inches of ground clearance. When equipped with the Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package, the Patriot's ground clearance is 9 inches.

Off-roading is the Patriot's biggest advantage. Without getting into heavy-duty truck-based models like the Jeep Liberty or Wrangler, the Patriot has few peers among car-based crossovers. The Land Rover LR2 is one, but it's a luxury model priced above $35,000. The Subaru Forester is capable of duty beyond the basic off-pavement trail, but it lacks the additional low gear that facilitates climbing steep inclines and scrambling over larger obstacles. Unlike our test car's Freedom Drive I, which is mainly a hands-off four-wheel-drive system with a manually lockable center coupling for tougher scenarios, Freedom Drive II lets you select a crawl gear. It's not technically a dual-range transfer case, because it uses the CVT's broad range to provide the 19:1 ratio, but the effect is the same. I drove the Patriot off road after its debut and was impressed.

    See also:

    Elapsed Time
    Shows the total elapsed time of travel since the last reset. Elapsed time will increment when the ignition switch is in the RUN or START position. Elapsed time is displayed as follows: hours:minute ...

    Resetting Active Head Restraints (AHR)
    If the Active Head Restraints are triggered in an accident, you must reset the head restraint on the driver’s and front passenger seat. You can recognize when the Active Head Restraint has bee ...

    Tire Placard Location
    Tire Placard Location (Two-Door Models) Tire Placard Location (Four-Door Models) ...