A bolder appearance and some much-needed interior enhancements promise to raise the visual presence of the 2011 Jeep Patriot. But the good news goes deeper than mere cosmetics, as this five-passenger compact SUV offered in Sport/Latitude/Latitude X trim and front- or four-wheel drive also benefits from several functional upgrades that add to its on- and off-road capability.

Although the primary bodywork carries over, the 2011 Jeep Patriot does get new front and rear fascia treatments. The most prominent change comes in the form of a body-color grille and foglamps that are repositioned inside of the headlights, however the mildly redone rear cap does feature a slightly lower valence. Four new colors and available 17-inch alloy wheels add a bit more flash to this junior Jeep's form while an extra inch of ride height on 4x4 models help its cause when the pavement ends.

Inside, the 2011 Jeep Patriot gains new and improved fabric upholstery trims and several new soft-touch surfaces as well as a new multifunction steering wheel and cruise control on all models. The range-topping Latitude X also adds backlighting on the supplemental function switches as well as standard automatic temperature control on the Latitude X model. Also new for 2011 on all models is Uconnect Voice Command with Bluetooth that allows for hands-free calling and music/radio/SIRIUS Satellite Radio control.

Mechanically, the 2011 Jeep Patriot gets a suspension recalibration for 2011 that brings increased spring and damping rates, added rebound springs and a beefier rear anti-roll bar as well as a minor, unspecified revision to the steering. With functionality to match is decidedly Jeep-like styling, all-wheel-drive versions of the 2011 Patriot also feature a dual-range transfer case, best in class 19:1 crawl ratio, Hill Descent Control, shift-on-the-fly 4x4 Lock, and a 2,000-lb maximum tow rating along with the ability to ford a 19-inch deep creek and class-leading fuel economy. The 2011 Jeep Patriot lineup goes on sale later this fall.

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