Patriot in the Market

The Patriot isn't Jeep's worst vehicle (that would be the Compass, a rounded-off on-road model that shares the Patriot's platform and shortcomings but none of its strengths), but the Patriot is not Jeep's best vehicle. It has found its buyers — mainly Jeep loyalists who don't want the bulk or fuel costs of a traditional Jeep — and it will continue to, but the compact crossover class is more crowded and competitive than ever.

Our owner reviews and the emails we receive are predominated by people who have owned many Jeeps and admittedly love Jeeps. In their view, the Patriot is A-OK. What we don't see much of are consumers who don't care one way or another about Jeeps and bought one anyway after testing many competing models. Occasionally even a Jeep fan will admit to regarding the front-wheel-drive-based model as a travesty on philosophical grounds alone.

When the Patriot made its debut in the 2007 model year, the RAV4 had been around for 11 years, the CR-V 10 years and the Escape six years. I'm tempted to defend the Patriot as a latecomer that needs time to grow. After all, the Equinox and Tucson (both introduced in 2005) didn't set the world on fire, either. But both of these models made huge leaps with their recent redesigns. The Patriot hasn't, and time to grow is time that Jeep doesn't have.

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