It seems that Jeep is having quite a busy year. First we got a redesigned Grand Cherokee; then an updated Wrangler with a new interior and now this. The Patriot, the brand’s entry level trail rated vehicle is receiving some improvements of its own. On the outside, the most obvious change is a revised front fascia, with driving lights now integrated into the lower bumper assembly, a body colored grille, new exterior colors, plus newly styled 17-inch wheels. Suspension changes include retuned shock absorbers and higher rate springs, a thicker rear sway bar, plus on 4×4 models an inch increase in ride height for better clearance out on the trail.
But like hardcore brother Wrangler, the changes on the inside are perhaps even more significant. Chrysler products in general have long been criticized for chintzy interiors and the Patriot, first introduced in 2006, was no exception. In response, the automaker has made significant strides for 2011, including better quality upholstery for the seats, soft touch door panels and a new steering wheel that incorporates audio, hands free communication and cruise control functions (the last now standard on all Patriots we might add). Other inside upgrades include backlighting for power window and mirror switches, plus on the Latitude X trim level, standard automatic climate control.
Although the Patriot is getting on in years, Chrysler is hedging its bets that these upgrades will give this little rig a few more bragging rights. And given that it’s one of the few, affordable car based SUVs that can actually work properly off-road, it’s not a bad strategy.