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Jeep Patriot | Honda Accord Hybrid


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By Kelly Foss, MyCarData.com

JEEP PATRIOT

Starting Price: $16,100

When Jeep first introduced the Patriot and its fraternal twin the Compass in 2007, it began a new trend as compact, front wheel drive crossover SUV’s. The Patriot was presented as the traditional boxy Jeep-like entry of the duo while the Compass was the stylish city slicker. Now seven years later, though coming from the same root stock, the two continue to go their separate ways. Notwithstanding the facelifts, Botox injections and tummy tucks that the Compass has undergone, the traditional Jeep-looking Patriot has kept its original look and continues to significantly outsell its sibling.

The original concept of having a unibody constructed vehicle with a 4 cylinder engine, front wheel drive and a CVT transmission wearing a Jeep badge caused a disturbance in the Jeep force. How could anything so car-like dare to display the word “Jeep” on its fender? Could it legitimately be considered a “Jeep”?

Well as it turns out the Patriot really is a Jeep and though it can’t go rock crawling with a Wrangler, it can get dirty and is “Trail Rated.”

Patriots are powered by either a 2.0 or a 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine which connects to either a 5 speed manual or a 6 speed automatic transmission. Front wheel drive is standard, but if you need to drive off of paved roads or in the snow, two different 4 wheel drive options are available.

My test vehicle, a mid-trim level Latitude, was equipped with the most common combination, the 2.4 liter engine with front wheel drive and automatic transmission. The vehicle has more than enough power and would get an indicated 32 mpg on the highway and averaged 26.4 mpg in a week of mixed city/highway driving.

Admittedly, the Patriot is boxy, but the benefit of the boxiness of the car is a large interior relative to its size. Entry and exit is simple. The cargo area is roomy and easily accessible. The rear seat leg and head room is generous and the seat backs fold flat with the pull of a web strap.

The Patriot offers options like leather clad power seats, navigation and Jeep’s wireless UConnect technology, but don’t expect to find radar cruise control, lane departure warning and cross traffic alert.

For modern city living, it’s actually an excellent sized vehicle. It’s small enough for effortless city driving, it handles and drives well, yet it’s large enough to carry four people and their stuff with ease.

The Patriot still follows the same mission plan that it was given when it was created. It’s a basic, unpretentious vehicle. It’s not stylish or sexy. It’s not particularly high tech or leading edge. But it’s useful, pleasant to drive, easy to live with, comfortable, versatile and not too expensive. And if you get the 4×4, be reassured that it can handle any mountain or snowdrift that you may encounter here in Houston.

 

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HONDA ACCORD HYBRID

Starting Price: $21,600

Honda introduced its ninth-generation Accord in 2013. The Accord is a perennial top seller in the midsize sedan class and has been on Car and Driver’s 10 Best vehicle list a record 28 times. Faithful buyers love their Accords and rightfully so.

I recently tested the new hybrid version of the new Accord. My test car was the top-of-the-line Touring model and had a sticker price of $35,695. Honda was the car company that actually introduced hybrids to our fair shores. In 1999 the bullet-shaped Insight made quite a statement. In fact, in January of this year I encountered an original in a parking lot still being used as a daily driver. According to the owner it had almost 400,000 miles on it!

Whereas early on in hybrid vehicle development, Toyota settled on one common design and has sold over one million of it in the U.S., Honda has tried a variety of technologies with varying degrees of success.

The new hybrid drive in the Accord is their latest iteration of the technology. It uses a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine and then combines the electric motor drive to round out the package. The EPA has given the car an astonishingly high 50 mpg city, 45 highway and a combined 47 mpg fuel economy rating, and that in a hefty 3,600 pound sedan. In my week of driving the car I averaged 44.7 which is below the EPA number but is so far above its competitors that it doesn’t matter.

The Accord gets its high fuel economy because the powertrain is constantly optimizing itself to use electric power as much as possible and use the gas engine as little as possible. That being the case, in the background it’s constantly balancing the three drive modes — Engine Drive, Hybrid Drive and EV — (the latter is pure electric mode) in order to get optimum fuel economy. It’s so seamless that you really can’t tell which mode you’re in and it doesn’t matter anyhow.

The new Accord is a very fine car. The exterior styling is very engaging. The car looks more expensive than it is and has presence. Similarly the interior is also styled very nicely. There are more hard plastic surfaces than I’d like but everything functions very well and the interior feels good. The space is comfortable and has room for full-sized occupants. Hybrid cars sacrifice some of their trunk space to make room for the hybrid battery and the Accord is no exception.

The driving dynamic of the car is also commendable. The big Honda corners well, rides well and is quiet inside.

So all you know is that you’re driving down the highway in this very nice roomy sedan getting an indicated 48 miles per gallon of fuel economy and emitting no pollutants! How can that be? Modern technology and those clever engineers at Honda have pulled it off again.

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