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by Jay Traugott
For what will likely be their final year on the market, Jeep has equipped its Patriot and Compass models with a new six-speed automatic transmission. No applause is necessary.
It's no secret that both the Jeep Patriot and Compass are living on borrowed time. Each were designed during an era of deep cost-cutting and a mindset that a Jeep model can do well even without real off-road capabilities. Since both vehicles here are built on the same platform as the old Dodge Caliber, it's fair to say they're not true Jeeps in the same sense as the Wrangler or Grand Cherokee. With both models on their way out, Jeep has revealed mild updates for each at the Detroit Auto Show.
So what's changed? A six-speed automatic gearbox to replace the old CVT. That's the biggest news. Mated to either the standard 2.0-liter four with 158 hp or the 2.4 with 172, the new slushbox helps improve fuel economy, though Jeep has yet to release exact figures. The five-speed manual is still available. Aside from the drivetrain changes, Compass can now add items like a plated grille, painted mirrors and 18" wheels to spruce up the exterior. A backup camera is also new, as are some minor upgrades. The Patriot is otherwise unchanged aside from front-seat airbags. Both will arrive in showrooms this spring for what will likely be their last model year.