Avg. Price Paid:$7,976 - $11,055
Original MSRP: $16,485 - $22,855
MPG: 23 City / 28 Hwy
Search Used Listings:

2008 Jeep Patriot Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Jeep Patriot was new.

Reviewers generally feel that the 2008 Jeep Patriot offers a good ride both on- and off-road, but criticize its controversial continuously variable transmission. Automobile Magazine says, "And while it isn't particularly fun to drive on-road, this Jeep offers good ride quality and competitive dynamics that are miles ahead of the Wrangler and the Cherokee before it."

Acceleration and Power

For more refinement, the 2008 Jeep Patriot features a recalibrated drivetrain for 2008. It comes standard with a 2.4-liter World Engine that puts out 172 horsepower and employs dual overhead cams and dual Variable Valve Timing (dVVT) on both intake and exhaust camshafts. A second engine option available exclusively on the Sport model is a 2.0-liter 158-horsepower World Engine, which shaves $200 off the standard engine's price -- and should also increase fuel economy.

Of the 2.4-liter standard engine, A Car Place complains: "The engine choice is unfortunate...The new 2.4-liter World Engine sounds buzzy when revved, like a cross between a gas-powered leafblower and a sewing machine; and to make any real power, it needs to be revved high." New Car Test Drive, on the other hand, loves the engine, commenting, "You can be going uphill at 75 miles per hour, and it will still accelerate for you." Motor Trend sums up the mixed opinions, noting, "It's not a bad engine, but not stellar."

Reviewers don't have much to say about the optional 2.0-liter engine. The Washington Times concludes that it is "aimed strictly at fuel economy bragging rights," and Cars.com observes, "Its appeal is indeed narrow." The Detroit Free Press is relatively pleased, commenting: "The small engine and CVT give the Patriot good performance, with plenty of power for passing and fast highway drives. The engine sounds like it's working hard, however, with a droning note that's always audible."

The Environmental Protection Agency does not yet have fuel economy figures for the 2008 Patriot, but estimates the 2007 2WD model with the 2.4-liter engine to net 21 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. The 4WD with the automatic transmission gets 20 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway or 22 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway with the five-speed manual. The Car Connection is impressed with the 2008 model's 2.0-liter engine figures, noting that it delivers "a surprising 26 mpg in the city and a whopping 30 mpg on highway." EPA figures for the 2007 model's 2.0-liter engine are 23 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway.

While reviewers have varied opinions about the engine choices, they are even more divided about the Patriot's transmission options. A five-speed manual is standard, but a second-generation Continuously Variable Transaxle transmission (CVT2) or a CVT2L transaxle (just for Freedom Drive II models) is also available. Most reviewers prefer the manual gearbox, with New Car Test Drive calling it "a joy to use, even with its long throw" and adding: "The five-speed made the Patriot feel like a Jeep. It brought out the potential of the World engine. It didn't try to mess with the power."

The CVT transmissions differ from the manual in that they don't include individual gear ratios, meaning the engine remains at a fairly constant speed under acceleration. The transmission maintains any speed changes continuously, resulting in what is intended to be a smooth ride for the driver, who feels no gear shifts. Most reviewers don't see the high-tech transmission's merits. The Car Connection comments: "Our biggest complaint was with the continuously variable transmission under extreme acceleration. Heading up steep hills, the engine would race to redline and hold there as vehicle speed caught up." Similarly, New Car Test Drive calls the CVT "just too odd" and adds: "Left to its own programming, the CVT makes the Patriot feel like it's powered by a big rubber band. It will go from 0 to 90 mph without shifting." And Motor Trend quips that the CVT "saps [the engine's] off-the-line punch and sounds like a blender under heavy acceleration, especially when bouncing around an off-road course. Frozen daiquiri, anyone?"

Handling and Braking

Based on the same platform as the Jeep Compass and Dodge Caliber, the 2008 Patriot features MacPherson strut front suspension, independent multilink rear suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. Reviewers are largely pleased with the Patriot's handling, both on- and off-road. Edmunds calls it "commendable," adding, "Although there is some body roll (as one would expect of an SUV) the Patriot feels confident in the corners and the ride is firm and controlled over the bumps." New Car Test Drive calls the suspension "as good as the engine," and reports: "We gave it a good test over a 20-mile stretch of dirt road: hard-packed, potholed, a layer of loose dust, lots of uphill and downhill curves. The Patriot was stable and confident." Truck Trend says the steering is tight compared to the Jeep Wrangler and notes, "The Patriot's size didn't make me feel like I was in an overly huge SUV."

Despite mostly glowing reports, reviewers have a few handling complaints. Car and Driver heavily criticizes the Patriot's steering, griping that it's "Novocain-numb, and we could turn the wheel several degrees off-center without any response." And Autobytel isn't thrilled about the suspension, which the reviewer says "wasn't all that impressive, but that's a result of this rig being built for highway duty first, off-road play second."


The 2008 Patriot comes standard as a front-wheel-drive vehicle but also offers viable four-wheel-drive options. For light off-roading capability on either the Sport or Limited models, buyers can choose the Freedom Drive I package, which provides full-time four-wheel-drive with LOCK mode. This special mode can handle low-traction surfaces at speeds under 10 miles per hour. The manufacturer reports that the Patriot is the most fuel efficient 4x4 in its class when equipped with Freedom Drive I.

For full trail-rated off-roading, buyers can choose the Freedom Drive II Off-Road Group package, a four-wheel-drive with a low range that Jeep touts as "best-in-class off-road capability." The 4x4 mode provides anti-lock brakes, traction control and special drivetrain calibration for rock crawling. Other features include hill descent control, one more inch of ground clearance, a heavy-duty cooling system and 19-inch water-fording capability.

The majority of reviewers are thrilled with Freedom Drive II, which Kelley Blue Book calls one of its favorite features. "Where the Patriot really impressed us was out past the pavement, where our 'Trail Rated' model was able to traverse bona fide boulders with unexpected ease and composure," the reviewer says. Motor Trend notes that the package is a good value, commenting: "Getting FDII in the Patriot is a bit like having the folding picnic table in the previous generations of CR-V. You may never go off-roading or picnicking, but you've got something extra versus the competition for about the same amount of money." New Car Test Drive reports a very positive off-road experience using the system: "We crossed some ridges and ditches that raised one front or one rear wheel two feet in the air. It felt effortless, as the Patriot just slowly and securely picked its way over."

But despite the good reviews, AutoWeek still cautions buyers about the Patriot's off-roading abilities. "We're not sure how many Patriot owners will buy the compact ute for its off-road prowess," the reviewers says. "No question, it has the street cred to go way beyond gathering groceries, unless your favorite market is somewhere along the Rubicon Trail." Edmunds also notes, "If you're really serious about going off-road in a small SUV, you'd be better suited by Jeep's own Wrangler or competitors like the Nissan Xterra and Toyota FJ Cruiser -- all of which are more capable on rough terrain."

Performance Options

2.4- or 2.0-liter Sport (FWD or 4x4)

The base Sport model comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder double overhead cam 16-valve dual variable valve timing engine (172 horsepower). For a $200 discount, consider the 2.0-liter four-cylinder DOHC 16-valve dual VVT engine (158 horsepower), which should increase fuel economy. Standard transmission is a five-speed manual. A Continuously Variable Transaxle II transmission is available as an option.

The Sport is also available as a four-wheel-drive, which increases the base cost. In this case, the only available engine is the 2.4-liter four-cylinder DOHC 16-valve dual variable valve timing engine (172 horsepower). Standard transmission is a five-speed manual. A Continuously Variable Transaxle II is available, as is an added off-road crawl ratio.

2.4-liter Limited (FWD or 4x4)

The next trim level up, the Limited, also comes with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder DOHC 16-valve dual variable valve timing engine (172 horsepower). Standard transmission is a five-speed manual, but a Continuously Variable Transaxle II transmission is available. Like the Sport, the Limited is also available in a 4x4 version, which comes with a new base price. The 2.4-liter engine is the same. Transmission options are also the same, but buyers can choose the transmission with an added off-road crawl ratio for an extra cost.

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

Next Steps: Jeep Patriot