Friday, October 28, 2011

This Patriot's colors run rather well

Sacramento, California –-For an automaker that counts significant World War II glory as part of its history, Jeep has sure taken its lumps over the years.

While I have not fallen in love with every new Jeep product introduced over the past generation, I personally believe the rocks thrown at Jeep have been a little large … and a little unfair. It’s almost as if purists are angry that Jeep doesn’t stick to producing Wranglers and other vehicles with the old World War II DNA.

Take the Jeep Patriot Latitude 4X4. Here’s a nice, five-passenger sport-utility vehicle that will cost you around $22,000 and change, do just about everything right and carries a long list of standard features. Most vehicles making these claims are deserving of respect.

And it has my respect. The Patriot was freshened in 2011 and gets a few more tweaks for 2012, but essentially, it’s the same package.

Standard propulsion at Latitude level comes from a 2.4-liter in-line 4 with 172 horsepower. No, that won’t blow off a sports car, but it will handle most of the challenges found on city streets and rural highways.

My tester had an easy-to-use dashboard of controls. Cargo-carrying capacity was easily expanded to generous with an easy fold of the 60/40-split rear seats.

Fuel mileage is a so-so 21 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

I did not take my Patriot over a rock-strewn trail in the Sierra Nevada – I suggest the Jeep Wrangler for folks who consider this fun – but it certainly looked rugged enough in the fine Jeep tradition. Even with those rugged, squared shoulders, the Patriot was silky smooth and surprisingly quiet on freeway runs.

Seriously fine features include electronic roll mitigation, hill-start assist and halogen headlamps.

But just don’t take my word for it.

The recent third quarter report by the Sacramento-based California New Car Dealers Association showed that Jeep posted a 54 percent gain in new light vehicle registrations in the first nine months of 2011, compared with the same period in 2010. That topped ALL brands sold in California.

Hmmm, somebody must know something, right?

And given the near-constant reminders that the Patriot ultimately will be supplanted by a Fiat crossover, now might be a good time to get a deal on a Patriot.

Sounds like a good deal to me.

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