Drivetrain Choices

The Patriot offers a choice of two engines, two transmissions and three drivelines. Standard are the familiar 2.4-liter four-cylinder from the Caliber and Compass, a five-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive. The automatic option comes in the form of a continuously variable transmission. Four-wheel drive is available with either transmission, in two forms: Freedom Drive I and Freedom Drive II. They were originally called French Drive until that country declined to participate in the Iraq invasion. (I might have made that part up.)

Already employed on the Compass and Caliber, Freedom I is the simpler option; it's arguably all-wheel drive because it transfers up to 60 percent of the torque automatically between the front and rear axles when needed, and it lacks a low gear — though it has a 4WD Lock lever that splits the torque 50/50 between the front and rear wheels. (You shouldn't need this unless you get stuck on a slick surface.)

Freedom Drive II has a dual-range transfer case, which is one of the features that turns any Patriot that has it into a true off-roader, or as Jeep dubs it, Trail Rated. (I suspected a few years ago when Jeep introduced this designation that it meant future models might not be. At that time, every Jeep model — throughout history, arguably — had been fully off-roadable. Sure enough, the Compass and any Patriot not fitted with Freedom II Off-road Package 4WD are not Trail Rated.) I drove a few drivetrain combinations, but before I expand on that, wasn't there another engine?

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