Jeep Patriot

We drive the new junior-Cherokee. It as tough on the inside as it looks on the outside?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

The new petrol engine helps give the Patriot an extra dose of refinement. Unfortunately, any benefits are swiftly undone by the lacklustre performance and cheap interior. Despite this, the Jeep has a lot to recommend it as a family car. Plenty of space, a versatile four-wheel-drive system and good value all work in its favour. However, we’d still go for the diesel. It may be less soothing, but it performs better on the road and at the pumps.

That’s Jeep’s claim for its new petrol-engined Patriot. The company’s rugged entry-level model now gets a powerful 168bhp 2.4-litre motor with a self-shifting CVT gearbox. We’ve already tried the diesel version, and found it a little rough around the edges. Is this variant any better?

Step up to the Patriot and there are no visual clues as to which unit is under the bonnet. You get the same bluff, upright stance, angular bodywork and imposing grille.

The cabin is unchanged, too, which means poor quality plastics and cheap switchgear. Even the standard leather of this top-of-the-range model fails to lift the interior ambience.

There’s plenty of space, though, and it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. Turn the ignition key and the 2.4-litre fires up with little noise. This engine has been jointly developed with Hyundai and Mitsubishi, and it’s a big improvement on the oil-burner. It’s a smooth-revving unit that is more refined than the diesel, only becoming intrusive at high revs.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to work the motor hard to make any decent progress, and although the six-speed CVT automatic box gives smooth gearchanges, it blunts performance.

What’s more, despite the direct, well weighted steering, the chassis is pretty uninspiring. And limited ground clearance ensures that serious off-roading is out of the question.

Nevertheless, at £18,795 the 2.4 Limited is good value, and the Jeep heritage is likely to be a major draw for those wanting something a little different from their family car.

RIVAL: HYUNDAI TUCSON The Tucson is better equipped, and the 2.7-litre V6 serves up more go. It’s also solidly built and has a five-year warranty – but at £19,692, the Hyundai is more expensive, while the 173bhp motor is heavy on fuel.

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