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2007 Jeep Patriot: An Off-Road Prince


Jeep’s Second Crossover SUV Really Takes Compact Crossovers Off-Road
Jeep followed up the Compass, which went on sale in November 2006 (click here for our first Compass drive), with a tougher, more off-road-capable, and more traditional Jeep crossover SUV in the Patriot. Though we brought you news of the Patriot following its introduction in New York last year (click here), AutoPacific staffers were invited to be among those taking the first drives. Compass and Patriot share quite a bit, both under the skin and in the interior, as they use the same platform. Compass follows the “modern” side of Jeep, which includes the Grand Cherokee. Jeep considers the Patriot a traditional Jeep, like the old Cherokee, the Liberty and new Commander.


To successfully fill the traditional Jeep role, Patriot needs to support its Cherokee-inspired design with legitimate performance, if not Wrangler ability. So Jeep offers Patriot in three driveline flavors, standard front-drive, Freedom Drive I all-wheel-drive, and Freedom Drive II Trail Rated all-wheel-drive. Freedom Drive II gives Patriot best-in-class (Crossover SUV class) off-road ability. But Patriot competes in a class better known for inclement-weather driving than off-roading; they aren’t targeting off-road performance. If the Wrangler is Jeep’s off-road King, the Trail-Rated version of Patriot is its Prince. This prince better be more capable off-road than the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V, Jeep Compass, and Subaru Forester.

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Jeep Patriot Complements Jeep's Range


Small Trail-Rated SUV Joins Jeep Lineup in Fall
New York’s Jacob Javits convention center is the backdrop for Jeep’s introduction of a second all-new, additive vehicle for the 2007 model year, as the Patriot is unveiled at the 2006 New York auto show. Come fall 2006, Jeep showrooms will be home to six vehicles, two more than in 2005 and the most in the brand’s history. The Patriot and Compass are additive vehicles for this year and are the first Jeep products derived from a car platform. Compass, introduced at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in January, goes on sale this summer. Though the show is still a couple of days away, AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents have been watching the development of the Patriot, and here are our first impressions.


As Jeep was developing its first car-based SUV, the company evaluated two proposals with different personalities and decided to go for both. The Patriot’s job is to meet the demands of entry-level Jeep enthusiasts and intenders and give them a less-expensive way to put the legendary brand in their driveway, while the Compass is supposed to bring in more conquest buyers at an early point in their purchasing lives. Pricing for Patriot will be lower than Wrangler and likely similar to Compass, we expect. The Compass launches with a price range from just under $16,000 to just under $22,000, including destination. The top Patriot adds more off-road ability than the Compass, so this model may top out at a higher price point than Compass. Patriot is going for owners from their early 20s to early 40s. Jeep sees Patriot buyers as “confident, independent, rugged individuals who like the outdoors.” Presumably, Compass buyers are just as confident and independent, though perhaps less rugged or interested in the outdoors.
In the expansion of the Jeep brand, one can see the atomization of the market itself; buyers can find just the right SUV to meet their needs. Need a rugged off-roader? Take Wrangler. Need more space than Patriot or Compass and nicer on-road manners than Wrangler? Take Liberty. Need a mid-size, premium SUV? Take Grand Cherokee. Need seats for three more? Take Commander. You can even get a performance-oriented SUV in the Grand Cherokee SRT-8. Now, if you want a cheap Jeep, you can choose between urban style with the ability to handle inclement weather with ease or a traditional package with off-road ability. We’ll find out later this year if the strategy works better at the lower end of the market than it is at the upper end, as Jeep seems to be currently building more Commanders than they can easily sell.

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