Despite being very different animals, the Patriot and the Prius are both acknowledged as family cars, so our route would take us on a typical family day out to the south coast. Starting from Tower Bridge in the centre of London, we set off at 10am to avoid the rush hour traffic heading out towards Brighton and our first waypoint.
The first impressions of the Patriot were not great - the first few seconds were spent scanning the truly nasty plastics of the interior. Once we had got used to the dashboard, we could not help noticing that it did not actually contain very much - even though we had the range-topping Limited model, there was no sat nav and only a basic radio and CD/MP3 player. However, once on the move, things rapidly improved, as it proved remarkably easy to pilot the Patriot around the city. Despite its size, it didn't feel awkward, and was comfortable inside.
The interior of the Prius was less offensive to the eye and came with more kit than the Patriot. The sat nav was easy to program, so it was decided that the Prius would lead the way. However, it took time to get used to the odd automatic gear lever, which sits on the dash next to the steering wheel. When we first tried to pull off at a set of lights the electronic parking brake wouldn't release and the gearbox refused to select 'drive'. It took quite a bit of persuasion before the electronic systems agreed to let us go on our way.
As we approached the motorway the two on-board computers were reading very different figures. The Prius was showing around 58mpg, whilst the Patriot showed just below 40mpg. The Prius is almost silent whilst driving in the city, but on the motorway you could hear the engine working quite hard - it is only a 1.5 litre unit and the batteries are no help at cruising speed. Nonetheless, by the time we reached the Brighton seafront the trip computer was claiming over 62mpg. In contrast, the Patriot's 2.4-litre diesel engine feels effortless at cruising speeds and the uncouth growl you get from it around town almost disappears. It also feels more spacious than the Prius, which would be a little cramped with the whole family aboard.
After stopping at Brighton, the rest of the journey took us along the coastal route for a few miles before we stopped again to swap drivers and headed back towards London. The entire route took us over 160 miles covering coastal, motorway and city roads.