Jeep made the Patriot a bit quieter, a bit more refined, and a whole lot more solid-feeling last year, but it’s still based on a rather lackluster platform that doesn’t excel at on- or off-road driving. The Patriot is the least expensive Jeep, and it’s noticeable, although the revised interior is much better than what buyers of earlier Patriots received. Neither of the Patriot’s two four-cylinder engines is particularly refined, an impression that’s exacerbated by the CVT automatic. Even the Wrangler seems quieter on the road, although the Patriot feels more buttoned up behind the wheel. Sadly, the Patriot’s only selling point is price. The Patriot used to have an advantage over the Compass because it arguably looked better and because it offers a modicum of off-road ability (enough to earn Jeep’s Trail Rated badge) with the off-road package, but now the Compass offers those same mechanicals and was restyled to the point where it may be the better-looking of the two. As with the Compass, your absolute best bet is to wait and see what Jeep replaces the Patriot with in 2013. These twins have taken this platform (which is shared with the underwhelming Dodge Caliber) about as far as it can go, and it still comes up short in comparison to the rest of the small-crossover/SUV segment. If you must choose a Patriot, take solace in the fact that your little Jeep has a bit more room inside than a Compass and can cost a whole lot less.
Drive: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim levels: Sport 4×2, Sport 4×4, Latitude 4×2, Latitude 4×4, Limited 4×2, Limited 4×4
Body style: SUV/crossover, 5-passenger
Engines: 2.0L I-4, 158 hp, 141 lb-ft
2.4L I-4, 172 hp, 165 lb-ft
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, continuously variable
Passenger volume: 101.4 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 1000-2000 lb; cargo (rear seats up/down) 23.0/54.2 cu ft
Mechanically, the Jeep Patriot is a twin of the Jeep Compass, so it’s no surprise that the upgrades to the calibration of the continuously variable automatic transmission carry over to the Patriot. The changes are supposed to provide better acceleration, smoother deceleration, improved throttle response, and lower engine rpm during midthrottle acceleration runs.
Advanced multistage front air bags, side curtain air bags, front-seat active head restraints, ABS, electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, and brake assist are standard. Seat-mounted side air bags are optional, and hill-descent control is available with the Freedom Drive II off-road package.
All: 20-23 mpg city/23-29 mpg highway
- Surprisingly nice interior
- Cheapest Jeep offered
- Unrefined engines
- CVT isn’t for everyone
The cheapest Jeep.
- Kia Sportage
- Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
- Suzuki SX4