test drove a Patriot
So I have been thinking of buying a Patriot with the Freedom Drive 1, and this past weekend I rented one for 2 days. The car I rented is a 2013 with about 21,000 miles. It is a Sport, 2.4 engine with the CVT Freedom Drive 1. My main objective was to see if it had enough power, how would I like the CVT, what kind of gas mileage, comfort,how it would do in situations requiring some type of AWD, and also see if my wife would like it, as it would be her car. The rental was arranged by my Jeep dealer, thru Enterprise. 4Wd Patriots are hard to find as rentals in California, but they had one that had come in from Oregon to San Diego, and they actually brought it into Canoga Park as a favor to the Jeep dealer. I picked the car up friday nite, with about 1/4 tank of gas, and it took about 43.00 to fill it up. This was a pleasant surprise compared to our '96 Grand Cherokee, that takes usually about 85.00 to fill up from 1/4 tank. Our test drive took us from La Crescenta (foothills near Pasadena), to Big Bear Lake, and back, in 2 days of having the car. About 65 miles of freeway driving, at speeds mostly around 70 mph, then about 55 miles climbing up to 8443' at the highest point, and settling in around 6600' for a day, and then driving back, doing a total of 301 miles for the trip.
For comparisons sake, I will tell you we usually do this trip with a 2004 Dodge Dakota 2WD with the 4.7 V8 in the summer, and a '96 Grand Cherokee with the 318, and full time 4WD in the winter.
When driving the Dodge, we average about 15 miles per gallon on this trip, and just a little over that with the Grand Cherokee. I did not actually fill the Patriot back up to get real accurate mpg's, because I picked it up with 1/4 tank, and if I filled it up, they would not refund me the extra gas cost, but I drove it down to about 1/16th on the gas gauge, so with a 13.6 gallon tank, I would think I would have used between 12.5 and 13 gallons, so about 23 to 23 1/2 mpg for the trip. Pretty good compared to my other cars.
Performance wise, it was pretty good, smooth at 70 on the highway, sure footed on the twisty road up the hill, easy to drive pretty fast. I think because of the CVT, there is no hunting up and down looking for the right gear, and always felt like it had plenty of power. I was not able to test it on a snowy road, or even an icy dirt road, because its been pretty warm in Big Bear for a few days. I did take it up a steep muddy dirt road about 1/4 mile, several times (our cabin is on this road), and it was fine. I am pretty sure the rental agency did not appreciate the mud, but didnt say anything. My 2WD Dakota cant make it up this road when its muddy, but my friends FWD Jetta does fine.
Interior room was good for my wife and I, and we put down the back seats for our dog and her bed, and carried enough junk for 2 days, without any issue. Luggage space with the seats up or down, seems similar to our Grand Cherokee.
So overall a good impression, with both my wife and I liking it, including the CVT.
But all is not well. There is quite a bit of road noise that comes thru, almost like there is not enough sound proofing, much noisier than any of our other cars, including my sons '95 XJ. But we decided we could live with this, and I might be able to add some sound proofing.
The other issue I am not sure we can live with. The front seats have basically no lumbar support, and there is no adjustment other than reclining. Very uncomfortable for a trip of any length. I believe that with some other trim levels, there might be a lumbar support adjustment. Dont know if this would make the seats enough better to remove this obstacle, but I dont think there are any 4wd Freedom 1 Patriots with this feature in the L.A. area. Its enough of a problem that we will not buy the car if it cant be resolved.
Sorry if long winded, but thought it might be interesting.
1995 XJ 4.0
1996 ZJ 5.2