Patriot in the Market

There's a lot to like about the Patriot. Even after you adjust the price to add the missing basic features — air conditioning, power windows, locks and side mirrors, etc. — it's pretty reasonably priced. As for its place in the market, this brand with ostensible SUV credibility is coming to this segment awfully late. At least a newfound interest in fuel economy is in its favor, particularly for a capable off-roader, most of which are heavy-duty and inefficient. That the Patriot can't tackle the toughest trails is irrelevant; knowing that one could go off-road has been more than enough to satisfy many an SUV buyer over the years. Authenticity — real or inferred — sells.

I was baffled that Jeep was building two models so similar in size and price off this platform. As it turns out, it's a good thing they did. The Compass itself is baffling enough. Before either came out, industry analysts and other random smarty pantses pondered if a lighter-duty model with Jeep's first-ever application of front-wheel drive would hurt the brand. The answer is no. A poorly executed model — of any configuration — would. Now at least buyers have an alternative.

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