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Review: 2014 Jeep Patriot Limited 4X4

Tuesday December 10th, 2013 at 8:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Huge Flat Cargo Floor, Great Tipstick Design
Gripes: Lethargic Handling, Underpowered

The Patriot is Jeep’s classical architecture version of its sibling, the more streamlined Compass. In lieu of gentrified Compass styling, the Patriot’s boxy lines and upright seven slot grill make you think Wrangler rather than Grand Cherokee. The Patriot line begins with the base model Sport FWD, with a starting price of $16,000. Work your way to 4WD and you add two grand to that base price. The Latitude model comes in at about twenty thousand for 2WD, three thousand more for 4WD. We spent a week with Jeep’s top line version, the Patriot Limited 4X4, which carries a base price of $25,895. By the time you’ve added the $995 Customer Preferred Package 2GF (theft alarm, cargo convenience group. roof rails with adjustable cross bars and Tipstick automatic gearbox), plus $745 for navigation with 40GB hard drive, the top of the line Patriot will set you back $28,630.

Even with the heated leather seats included in the Limited’s specification list, the interior of this Jeep doesn’t look luxurious. The first thing you notice inside the cabin is a gaping hole on the passenger’s side of the dash. While this lidless glove box provides a handy receptacle for random items, it looks sketchy. It also duplicates the ample enclosed glove box just below it. Another unnerving note is struck by the incessant chiming that begins if you insert the ignition key in its slot before you buckle up your seatbelt. There are better ways to save you from yourself than this persistent annoyance.

New for 2014 is the 6 speed gearbox, which replaces the previous model’s noisy constant velocity unit. The new “Tipstick” transmission is ingeniously designed to allow you to switch from full automatic to manual mode by simply swatting the Tipstick right for automatic or left for manual. There’s no need to search out separate gates for these two functions. Once in manual mode, you can up shift or down shift be slapping the Tipstick left or right. It’s one of the best solutions yet devised for this complicated bit of engineering.

If you select the Limited version of the Patriot, you receive the upgraded 2.4 liter, 172hp inline 4 instead of the baseline 2 liter, 158hp inline four that powers the 2WD Sport Patriot. Even with this optional motor, the Limited is hard pressed to launch with much thrust. You need to select the correct gear set with the Tipstick before initiating passing maneuvers. The engine sounds labored as it crescendos through the rpm range, and even at a freeway cruising speed of just 70mph the DOHC four is spinning at a rather noisy 2,500rpm. Tow capacity is limited to 2,000 lbs.

Where this Jeep excels is in the practicality department. Flipping forward the 60/40 split rear seats (which also happen to recline) is a simple maneuver that opens up a substantial flat load floor good for 54.2 cubic feet of space. Even with both rear seats erect, you’re good for 23 cubic feet of storage. The beauty of low rear liftover height and that flat floor configuration should not be underestimated. Slinging a bicycle through the tailgate and into the Patriot presented no hassle whatsoever.

The Patriot Limited’s 217/60R17 Firestone Affinity tires are quiet and comfortable over potholes, but ill suited to cornering duty. In fact, this Jeep is not your weapon of choice for back road bashing. It tends to slither through turns without generating much grip. Initial understeer predominates until Electronic Roll Mitigation conspires with Electronic Stability Control to slow progress to a crawl. Thus, it’s virtually impossible to get the Patriot crossed up or out of shape on a curvy road. Out on the freeway, this Jeep is better behaved. Its fat rimmed, leather-covered steering wheel offers you just the right opportunity to get a grip. Even though the Patriot’s high belt line dictates smallish side and rear windows, vision is commendably good in all directions. If you need the safety factor afforded by 4WD, and fancy practicality over speed, this entry level Jeep deserves a close look.

2014 Jeep Patriot Limited 4X4

  • Engine: 2.4 Liter, 16 Valve DOHC inline 4 with Dual VVT
  • Horsepower: 172hp
  • Torque: 165lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 21 MPG City/27 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $28,630
  • Star Rating: 7 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT 4×4

Tuesday October 8th, 2013 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Beautifully Constructed Street Fighter
Gripes: Poor Detents on Center Console Gear Change Stick

Forget everything you thought you knew about Jeep quality. Long gone are the days when the interior of a Grand Cherokee resembled the lobby of a Motel 6. When you gain admittance to the cockpit of the new Grand Cherokee SRT, you’re more likely to think Ritz than 6. Chrysler has managed to elevate the SRT experience to a level of gratification previously reserved for Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5 and Audi Q7 owners. Swing open the door and you’ll observe a distinctly European mode of finish, trim and appointment that will stagger your sensibility. For example, almost every seam from the top of the dash to the bolsters of the seats is double stitched with white thread for a custom tailored look. Instead of phony wood dash inserts, Chrysler provides carbon fiber slashes to the door panels and dash face that look just right with the purposeful, supportive SRT-embroidered front seats. Best of all the competition inspired touches is the Launch Control panel on the center console which allows you to program the SRT for instant departure when the light turns green. Backing up the track-ready promise of this Jeep, Chrysler has provided a series of performance measurements available via steering-wheel toggled menu: 0-60mph; 1/8 and 1/4 mile acceleration times; peak lateral and longitudinal G-Forces; instant peak G-Forces; Braking Distance from 60mph to zero.

In case you’re wondering why a mass production 4×4 requires such meticulous performance documentation, think of the SRT version of the Cherokee as a race truck first and a passenger Jeep second. Just look at the specification sheet and you’ll get the idea. Instead of the base Cherokee ‘s 290hp V-6, or optional 360hp V-8, the SRT harnesses Chrysler’s top HEMI V-8, the 6.2 liter monster that produces 470hp and 465 lb.-ft. of torque. Couple that prodigious output to a paddle-shifted, 8HP70, 8-speed automatic gearbox that will hold any gear as long as you like when manual mode is selected. The gearbox also tunes itself to your preferred style of driving within the first 300 miles of operation. Adding to the joy of such extensive gear selection are the extra-large alloy paddles affixed to the superbly designed sports steering wheel. This SRT wheel features a tactile lower quadrant formed from buffed aluminum feeding into side grips of perforated leather with deep thumb indentations.

Jeep did not stint on premium suspension apparatus to cope with the engine’s humbling horsepower. The front geometry features independent short/long arm design modulated by adaptive Bilstein gas dampers, while rear architecture consists of multiple links, adaptive Bilsteins, and adjustable toe links. Front and rear sway bars maintain equilibrium, and Jeep’s patented Selec-Trac works with the Bilstein dampers to provide 5 ride settings: Tow/Snow/Normal/Sport/Track. These refined suspension bits feed thrust through new 5-spoke SRT-specific “Goliath” 20 inch diameter polished alloy rims supporting huge Pirelli P Zero run flat tires (295/45 ZR20 all around). Equally impressive Brembo disc brakes – 15 inch, 6 piston front, 13.78 inch, 4 piston rear – haul this monster truck down from its top speed of 160mph.

From the outside, the SRT is all nostrils and gill slits, meaner than a catfish, more purposeful than an MP. Yet the whole design blends together so successfully that unless you’re super-attuned to Cherokee variants, this super Jeep could easily pass muster as a common grocery getter. After all, it still has all the attributes to fulfill that prosaic occupation. The rear tailgate is power assisted to lift or shut at the press of your key fob remote. The rear seat will hold 3 in a pinch, 2 comfortably, and provide them with A/C outlets, heated seats, and reclining backrests to boot. The Panorama sunroof enlightens front and back seat occupants with its generous sweep, and visibility to the rear and sides is unusually informative for an SUV of this type.

The Grand Cherokee in SRT trim is expensive, at $69.470, but worth every dollar when you compare it to its competition. For an equivalent performer from Porsche, BMW or Audi, you’ll easily spend twice as much as the outlay for this Jeep. And to my eyes, none of these German canons look as good as the finely fluted, flying new Cherokee.

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT 4×4

  • Engine: 6.2 liter HEMI V-8 with Fuel-Saver Technology
  • Horsepower: 470hp @ 6,000rpm
  • Torque: 465 lb.-ft. @4,300rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 13 MPG City/19 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $69,470
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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2013 Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4 Review

Saturday March 30th, 2013 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Primo Looks, Handling, Practicality
Gripes: Flat-Backed Seats, Manual Steering Wheel Adjust

It took 4 days before I realized that this Jeep was not black, but green. “Black Forest Green,” to be exact, a shade so elusive that it only reveals its verdance in direct sunlight. Unlike its paint – which has a visual sweet spot about one millimeter wide – the Grand Cherokee’s sweet spot is a mile wide. Here’s a do-everything SUV from a company that still has the guts to offer it with a spanking V8. In fact, you can optionally order not only the 360hp, 5.7 liter V-8 of our test Jeep, but also a 6.4 liter V-8 which produces 470hp in the SRT8 model. For those of you more concerned with economy than performance, Jeep’s base motor for the Grand Cherokee is a 3.6 liter V-6 good for 290hp, as well as a just-introduced 3 liter diesel which makes 240hp, 420 lb.ft. of torque, and returns 28 MPG.

Although combined city/highway fuel economy of the 5.7 liter V-8 is a modest 15 MPG, this engine, coupled to a 6-speed automatic, is a perfect match for the Cherokee’s 4,470 lb. curb weight. The V-8 option adds $2,195 to the Jeep’s $43,595 base price. But the engine upgrade also includes a bevy of valuable extras that are essential if you plan to tow: 220 amp alternator, heavy duty ABS disc brakes, heavy duty engine cooling, and trailer tow group IV, which includes hitch and wiring. Another worthy option included on our test Jeep is the electronic limited slip rear differential ($695) which overcomes traction loss in the standard Quadra-Drive II 4WD system.

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2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

Monday December 31st, 2012 at 8:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

 

By David Colman

Hypes: Does-It-All, Looks to Kill, Great Price compared to the Europeans
Gripes: 6 or 8 Speed Gearbox Would Be Nice, Thirsty

Jeep engineers must have had the mountain bike rider in mind when they designed the new Grand Cherokee. If you flip the rear seats down and pop open the hatchback gate, you’ve created the perfect storage area for a mountain bike. Tailgate lift-over is moderately high, but once you’ve got the hang of sliding your bike in and out, you’re good to go anywhere, because the Grand Cherokee is Trail Rated. Its base price of $39,295 includes Quadra Trac II all-wheel drive featuring a terrain selection knob that lets you optimize grip for sand, snow, or loose gravel. In addition, standard Hill Descent Control steadies your gait on long declines, while mud and snow rated 265/60R18 Michelin Latitude Tour tires get a sure grip on steep ascents. If the going gets too tough for this mountain goat of a Jeep, just roll that bike out of storage and tackle the trail with pedal power.

While the foregoing expedition is certainly possible with a Grand Cherokee as your guide, in all likelihood, your next outing will be cross town to the grocery store, not a foray up Mt. McKinley. The Jeep is just as well suited to the mundane as it is to the heroic. Although available with a variety of V-8 engines (ranging from 360 to 470hp), the basic powertrain consists of a perfectly adequate 3.6 liter V-6 coupled to a 5-speed automatic gearbox. This sophisticated new baseline prime mover produces 290hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s more than enough surge to meet any passing lane requirement, tow 7,400 pounds of trailer, and still return a thrifty 23 miles per gallon on the freeway. The V8 Hemi featured here is a monster at with power that is omnipresent.

 

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2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4X4 Review

Monday January 9th, 2012 at 4:11 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

Introduction by Francis Cebedo:

I took this Jeep to my daily grind of work and picking up the kids for a few days and it didn’t do so well. On the freeway it is a bit rough and darty. Keeping it in the lane was a bit of a challenge as the vehicle was easily persuaded to move to adjacent lanes when hitting bumps and imperfections at speeds over 70 mph.

Picking up the kids,  they couldn’t get in the back seat as they couldn’t push the seats forward and the opening to get in back was tiny even for active youngsters.  I took this vehicle mountain biking but  there was hardly any space in the back to put my bike.  So I took the heavy rear eats out and it was better space-wise but only slightly. Finally, I took the front roof off to get some sun but then all the cold wind seemed to descend in to the cabin at highway speeds. Even the mighty heater and heated seats had a hard time of keeping me warm.

Off-roading in Hollister Hills, CA

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That’s when I decided to take this car off-roading.  This is the Rubicon, 2-door so it should feel right at home on an off-road jamboree. It is 2-door so it is short wheelbase and ideal for keeping the tires in contact with the ground. The tires are massive 31 inch with meaty rubber. Other trail worthy features are:

  • High ground clearance
  • Heavy duty front and rear Dana axles
  • Rock rails for true underside protection, skid plates all around the under side
  • Electronic front sway bar disconnect – gives 20% more suspension articulation to keep the wheels on the ground.
  • Electronic locking front and rear differentials.
  • Removable roof, doors, rear seat to lighten up the vehicle

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2011 Jeep Compass Latitude 4×4 Review

Wednesday September 28th, 2011 at 11:99 AM
Posted by: mtan

2011 Jeep Compass
By Ming Tan

Pros

  • Exterior styling – share some visual cues with the big brother Cherokee Series
  • Roomy – the passengers get a decent amount of leg and shoulder room for long distance comfort, although some cargo room is sacrificed
  • Heritage – shares the same Jeep off road bloodlines that began with the original Wrangler
  • Relevance – the 2.4-liter I4 motor is efficient – 21 mpg city and 26mpg highway

Cons

  • Small storage area for its class – 60.7 cubic feet vs. 73 cubic feet in the popular Toyota RAV4
  • Sparse interior – hard plastics and a simple dash – some consider this a good thing, but on the Compass, it doesn’t look like an interior belonging to a $27k SUV
  • Blind spot visibility – the rear c pillar design adds to the exterior aesthetic appeal, but hinders blind spot visibility

“Evolution of a Legendary Bloodline”

I’ve always liked trucks and SUV’s; to be more clear, rugged trucks and SUV’s. I’ve even had my eyes open for a rugged Jeep Wrangler sometime down the road. To me, that model is synonymous with Jeep and it embodies what is pure about the brand: its rugged and well-rounded capabilities.

I’ve owned a few SUV’s over the years, and have test driven a number; most recently, the new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. The new Jeep Compass is similar in price, size, and value, so the timing was good to get some miles on this small SUV. I recognize that not everyone takes their SUV off road, so I evaluated the Compass from an image, value, and capability standpoint, given the compact SUV class that it belongs to. It seems to be a growing segment with worthy competitors, and the Jeep performed well overall, but not without a few issues.

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2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4×4 Review – Marching to a New Rhythm

Monday January 24th, 2011 at 3:11 PM
Posted by: Derek

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

By Derek Mau

Hits:

  • Smooth power delivery from 290 hp Pentastar 3.6L V6 engine
  • Quadra-Trac all-wheel drive system will never leave you stuck in the mud or snow
  • Leather-lined seats provide the support and comfort for all-day driving trips
  • Interior quality and design on par with some luxury-class vehicles
  • 2nd row passengers also get heated seats

Misses:

  • iPod interface and controls have poor ergonomics
  • Owners need to pony-up for the Trail Rated Quadra-Drive II system if they plan to do any rock-crawling

The recovering car market has welcomed the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee with a brass band. Chrysler reports November 2010 sales were up from those of November 2009 by 256 percent. Fresh optimism pervades Chrysler’s headquarters and technical centers in Auburn Hills, Mich., where dozens of new employees and engineering consultants have been quietly brought on since last fall to revamp the company’s product line, with help from its new Italian partner and parent Fiat. While Italian automaker Fiat now controls Chrysler, development of this Grand Cherokee began in 2006, when Chrysler was still tied up with Daimler-Benz (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz). Cue the music.

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2010 Jeep Commander Sport 4×4 First Impressions Review

Wednesday December 15th, 2010 at 2:1212 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By contributing editor David Colman

If you want to relive That Eighties Show, you could pop an Air Supply cassette into your tape player, watch a Ron Reagan speech on VHS, or jump into a Jeep Commander. Of the three choices, only the Jeep requires no tape for replay. You can march down to your local Chrysler/Jeep dealer right now to buy this perfect time capsule vehicle for just $33,575. Granted, a number of mostly unseen safety and technological advances distinguish the current product from its predecessors, like advanced multistage airbags and side curtain airbags in all rows. But you can’t see these improvements. So if you’re after that throwback feel, you couldn’t do better than a new Commander. After all, there’s a lot to be said for classic Jeep: the simple lines, the big chrome smile, the vast amount of space inside, the virile feel of the controls, the hunky responsiveness of the engine, and last but certainly not least, the legendary off-road agility of a Trail Rated Jeep.

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2010 Jeep Commander Review – A Jeep of many talents, but a master of none

Wednesday June 2nd, 2010 at 8:66 AM
Posted by: mash

2010 Jeep Commander Sport 4x4
By Mary Ellen Ash

Yays:

  • Excellent cargo space
  • Average in-class mpg
  • 4×4 off-road capability
  • More utility than a Swiss army knife
  • Lots of television screens

Nays:

  • Poor rear view visibility
  • Very cramped 3rd row seating
  • Flimsy ignition system
  • Anemic engine
  • Cheap, poorly designed interior

Ruling: it’s utilitarian with lots of passenger and cargo space, with average in-class mpg.

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First Impressions: 2010 Jeep Commander Sport 4×4

Tuesday May 4th, 2010 at 8:55 AM
Posted by: michael.leroy

2010 Jeep Commander Sport 4x4
By Michael D. Leroy

Pros

  • Great on-road manners
  • Touch-screen stereo works great and the built-in hard drive is nice
  • Easy to park with backup camera and good turning radius

Cons

  • Base V-6 lacks torque, get the 5.7L HEMI
  • Unresponsive throttle when moving from a stop
  • Poor rear visibility
  • Too much hard plastic for a $38,000 vehicle

SUV’s for far too long have been too much utility and not enough sport. Many SUV’s have questionable off-road ability. Jeep claims the Commander, its flagship model, is a “Trail Rated” seven-passenger people mover. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to do an off-road excursion, but I did get a chance to see the Commander’s city manners.

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