Jeep has improved its compact Patriot since the vehicle’s initial launch as a 2007 model but, overall, the Subaru Forester is a continual editors’ favorite and would get our recommendation. We named the Forester Cars.com’s Best New Car for Small Families in our 2010 Lifestyle Awards.
The Forester offers a more refined package with an impressive interior for the class. All-wheel drive is standard, though an all-wheel-drive Patriot and entry-level Forester start around the same price — $19,545 and $20,295, respectively.
You would likely end up paying more for the Subaru, as it’s still a hot seller and incentives aren’t as available, like the Patriot’s current $1,500 cash-back offer in most areas.
If you need an off-road-capable vehicle, the Jeep Compass would be a good choice with its Freedom Drive II package and low-range gearing. This package also increases ground clearance to 9 inches. The Forester doesn’t have a low-range option, but for most people the Forester’s all-wheel drive and standard 8.7 inches of ground clearance should be enough to tackle mild off-road use.
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