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Business

December 29, 2012

Jeep Patriot salutes SUVs affordably

(Continued)

Jeep – a brand of the Chrysler Group, based near Detroit but majority owned by Fiat of Italy – positions the Patriot as an entry-level SUV. According to Jeep, it is the lowest priced sport-utility you can buy, especially if you stay with the front-wheel-drive version. Its list price starts at $16,920. Four-wheel-drive Patriots start at a list of $18,920. But that still makes it the lowest price four-by-four sold in the U.S., Chrysler advertises.

At Clark Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, approximately nine of every 10 Patriots sold feature all-wheel drive, reported Mike Silverman, general manager of the Methuen dealership. The slick, pasty snow we woke up to Thursday morning explains why.

People go for the Patriot because of its affordable value, Silverman said. But at the same time, many also are drawn by the model's iconic appearance, he noted.

“People like the rugged sportiness it conveys,” he stated.

As a tribute to SUV heritage, the Patriot hews to a traditional body style. It has vertical sides, bulging skirts around the wheel cut-outs, and a squared back and nose, with round headlights and vertical slats on the grille that echo Jeeps of earlier years.

“It has the lines of the old, original Jeep Cherokee that was built years ago,” Silverman said. Chrysler made the model from 1984 until 2001, he noted. The Cherokee was one of the original SUVs. Along with the Ford Explorer, it launched sport-utilities to the popular position then enjoy today.

Back then SUVs were built atop pickup truck frames. Most sport-utilities today are called crossovers because they're built on an automobile base, crossing categories. As a compact crossover, the Patriot is smaller than the Cherokee it emulates. But it retains the haul-around usefulness of the class.

“It's a smaller four-wheel drive. Not everyone likes to drive a big SUV,” Silverman pointed out.

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