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What's like a Jeep Patriot?

We’re buying a used car for our new-driver daughter. We have come up to $8,000 from $5,000 in our search. The car she would really like -and we like it as well - is the Jeep Patriot, which rarely starts for less than $10K. Usually they’re higher. In this category, we’d welcome suggestions of other models that are in our price range that others have enjoyed.

Jeeps are a poor choice for “new drivers”…

You really need to do more auto research before making a decision.

In the category of “Small SUVs”, the Jeep Patriot is rated by Consumer Reports as #23 in a field of 26 vehicles. I guess that you could do worse, by buying the #24, 25, or 26-rated models (Jeep Compass, Dodge Nitro, Jeep Liberty), but why not focus on the 22 models that were rated superior to the Patriot?

Incidentally, do you notice a pattern, with the Chrysler-manufactured models clustered exclusively at the bottom of the barrel? That alone should give you pause.

Do yourself a favor and buy the Consumer Reports Used Car Buyers Guide, which is available at Barnes & Noble, Borders Books, and larger news stands. It contains a wealth of information that you could really benefit from.

Assume you have more car buying experience and are willing to take VDC’s good advice. You are in a sweet spot for reliable compacts with not too many miles. SUVs will be older and more trouble prone. Buy what you feel is the safest most reliable, not what she thinks is the coolest. It’s your money and safety and reliability are paramount. CR, as VDC suggests has suggestions to fit your needs.

You guys tryed to reason with a teenage daughter? Jeeps are reliable if you keep up with maintenace but expensive if you don’t.

What about a 2004/2005 Suzuki Grand Vitara? They are in the $7000-$8000 range. MSN Autos rates reliability high for 2003 and later. Other small SUVs like the Escape, CR-V or Rav-4 only approach this price at model year 2002 or earlier. Unless you daughter wants to off-road, the Jeeps will be less desirable than almost anything else. Road handling is harsh to make them functional off-road.

These vehicles are short wheelbase and have ox-cart suspensions. They can be flipped over with just flick of the wrist. Forget “cool”, by something “safe”…

Tried to reason with a teenage daughter ?
In the final analysis, she drives a safe car of parent’s choice, walks or rides her bike. Those are choices we gave our kids…reason about something like a car with someone with no automotive experience…no way !

I think the Jeeps are a little more resistant to rolling over than most of the other choices. But any SUV is going to be more prone to rollover accidents and most are significantly less stable and controllable in a ‘panic’ maneuver than a car would be.

A car would probably be safer, but she could do worse than the Jeep.

See how hard a Jeep is to dump when gas prices jump to $4/gallon. We car buyers need a sense of long term practicality and this is a good teaching moment for a prospective new car buyer. Something like a Ford Focus.

Do you mean to tell me that a parent does not have the responsibility to buy a child each and every material object that he/she desires?

My God, the next thing you will tell us is that sometimes children are irresponsible or do not make rational decisions!


Good thing the Patriot (and Compass, same platform and powertrains) isn’t a real Jeep. It’s a re-paneled Dodge Caliber.

Not really a problem with this one…again, not a real Jeep. It gets fuel economy comparable to a Subaru Legacy.

That isn’t to say it’s a good car.

Better choices:
Subaru Legacy
Subaru Impreza
Subaru Forester
Suzuki SX4
Mazda Protege 5
Late 90s Honda Accord wagon
Any Volvo
Toyota Matrix / Pontiac Vibe

All should be more reliable. Only the Volvo should cost more to fix when it breaks, but expect it to break less often than the Dodge-Jeep.

I second the Matrix/Vibe. Nice thing is with the current panic on Toyota products, you can probably get one for a song.

Not much, fortunately.


I’d like to know what OP drives. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and it’s real hard to go one way with a car choice for kids if the parents are driving something dramatically different. It’s easy to convince kids to go with a compact…if that’s all the family had otherwise. If like OP says, they like it too, we could be wasting our time and just having another friendly banter session.

That doesn’t change the fact that it has a high center of gravity and no stability control. I still wouldn’t recommend it for a new driver.

I have told this story before, so I hope you don’t get sick of it. I was on my way to work one day in my car. I work at a university. I watched the Jeep Patriot (or it could have been a Jeep Liberty - don’t remember what kind of Jeep it was, but it wasn’t a Wrangler) in front of me veer from the road onto the grass median. The driver, a female student, over-corrected to steer back towards the road. Then she over-corrected two more times and rolled the Patriot over a couple times. It ended up on its tires. The thing looked like she had been in a multiple vehicle collision, but she didn’t hit anything. The student didn’t have any major injuries, but she was totally freaked out. She obviously wasn’t paying attention to her driving, but if she had been in a car, or an SUV with stability control, she probably would not have rolled the thing. This accident was totally avoidable, but do your daughter a favor and get her something that is more forgiving of foolish mistakes like this one.

No, I know better than to try to reason with a teenage girl. That is why the parents are supposed to be in charge, so they don’t have to “reason.”

It’s barely any higher than the Caliber on which it is based. It isn’t a truck-based SUV, which is where most of the SUV handling problem reputation comes from.

I wouldn’t recommend it for a new driver or any driver though.