- The Washington Times - Friday, August 28, 2009

The Jeep Patriot is quieter and more premium-looking for the 2009 model year than it was when first launched two years ago.

The 20-something Starbucks barista around the corner owns an original Patriot and loves her compact sport utility vehicle. When I told her I had the 2009 Jeep around the back of the shop, she stopped steaming a skinny and scooted out the door.

The changes Jeep made to the new Patriot made her feel cheated. She marveled at the obvious upgrades throughout the entire interior cabin. I could almost read the crestfallen thoughts passing through her mind: Why is my credit shot and why is my timing all wrong?

Isn’t timing everything? We wait for the “right one” to come along. We look for the right job. Well, this is the best time to buy. If you’ve got any money, then you will never find a better time to buy anything. Things are at basement prices. Even the Fed has moved borrowing next to 0 percent. Homes. Cars. Retail. Stocks. America. Everything’s on sale. And most of it has good value.

The 2009 Jeep Patriot is one of the most adept four-wheel-drive SUVs on the market in the compact segment. It’s highly affordable and now, in a slumped economy, it is offered with upgraded revisions.

The Patriot is offered in Sport and Limited trims in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. I drove the Sport with a base price of $18,540. The as-tested price came to $24,015, as it was equipped with several options the automaker wanted to highlight as desirable availabilities.

One such large option package was the $2,175 Customer Preferred Package 28E. There were about 16 items in this package that enhanced the comfort and convenience value of the base model, from stain-repellant premium cloth seats to power fold-away sideview mirrors. The tester also featured the optional $1,050 Continuously Variable Transmission with Off-Road Crawl Ratio, as well as the Freedom Drive 4x4 off-road group for $855.

The 2009 Patriot sounds quieter with noise-reduction improvements to the engine compartment, exhaust tuning and added interior floor insulation. Additionally, the new Patriot provides passengers with a more comfortable highway ride because of a revision in suspension tuning.

Cabin upgrades include an all-new instrument panel accented with chrome appointments around the climate control vents, cluster rings, shifter and doors. An all-new center console has a split lid with more storage space.

The Patriot’s door-trim panels are more substantial looking, with padded armrests that also provide added comfort.

Jeep’s off-road engineering makes the Patriot a good value for both the highways and dirt ways. Jeep is known for its capability for water fording, ground clearance (9 inches), traction and maneuverability.

The Jeep is a two-box SUV that gives it exceptional abilities in the rugged terrain, plus the five-passenger cabin easily converts into a spacious place for cargo carrying. By the way, towing capacity on this compact vehicle is rated at just 2,000 pounds.

The Patriot Sport tester is powered by a 16-valve, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 172 horsepower and 165 lb.-ft. of torque, and as equipped with 4WD had an EPA fuel economy rating of 20 miles per gallon city and 22 mpg highway.

The 2WD Patriot comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that achieves 23/27 mpg and produces 158 hp and 141 lb.-ft. of torque.

The Patriot gets upgrades with perfect market timing - when things are most affordable. And, if you’re in the buyer’s market.

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