If you have a family, or need to haul a lot of things, you probably look at a sport utility vehicle (SUV) as your car of choice. Jeep markets the Patriot as the least expensive SUV on sale in the United States. Cheap and cheerful do not always go hand in hand when talking about cars, so does a cheap Jeep provide the unique ownership experience without sacrificing creature comforts? That depends on what version you go with.
Jeep sent over a 4-wheel drive Patriot Latitude for me to review. Its steel metallic exterior paint fits the image of a rugged, off-road vehicle well. After a week of testing, The Patriot proved itself a real Jeep for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money. Here are some of the key points.
The Patriot Sport starts at $15,995. Skip that version to look at either the Latitude or Limited. The Latitude adds air conditioning and power windows. The 4-wheel drive Latitude that Jeep sent over for review had a few options, including an auto dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats and heated exterior mirrors bringing the total up to $26,875. A 115v AC plug sits in the center console to plug in a laptop charger or other small appliance. All of the controls are within easy reach of the driver.
During testing, I got between 24-26 mpg. That’s not bad for a SUV. The 4-wheel drive system does not earn the Patriot a Trail Rated badge, but when I got caught in a freak spring snowstorm the system worked well. It might not help you cross Moab, but will get you through the elements. Unless you live in an area that frequently sees temperatures below freezing, I would skip the $795 All Weather Capability Group. I do like the All Terrain Tires that come with it; they give the Jeep an aggressive look. But an engine block heater and daytime running lights just aren’t necessary for that price.
The 430n Uconnect stereo is a nice unit, but doesn’t come standard with Bluetooth hands free. A button for it exists, but it just reminds you that you didn’t pay the extra money for it when you press it. Bluetooth costs an extra $495. Despite the negatives, you are hard pressed to find a full-featured SUV with practical features for less than $27,000.
In crash testing, the Patriot achieved a Poor rating on the small-overlap front test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This test simulates hitting a lamp post or other stationary object at 4o mph over the driver’s side headlight. In this accident scenario, the driver would likely suffer moderate to severe injury.
The Patriot scored a Good (highest) rating on the other crash tests performed by the IIHS. The IIHS still calls the Jeep Patriot a Top Safety Pick despite the Poor small overlap test results.
Despite being a little larger in size, the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox scores the best rating of Good on all IIHS crash tests. A base Equinox starts approximately $2,000 less than the Patriot Latitude as tested. At a little over $27,000 with four-wheel drive, the Equinox’s safety makes it something worth looking at. Most other small SUVs performed poor on this test.
It Maximizes Available Space
Despite being a compact SUV, the Patriot’s loading area can carry groceries, sports equipment or a stroller with room to spare. A cargo cover pulls out to keep smaller items from flying around. With the 60/40 rear seats folded down, there is 53.3 cu/ft of cargo space available.
Rear seat passengers have have 39.4″ of legroom. I packed three people in the back on a short journey without complaint.
At 40.6” of legroom, front seat occupants do not have a lot of space to deal with. To find a comfortable driving position, I had to move the seat all the way back. I’m 5’10” tall. A basketball player would likely get a kink in their neck trying to squeeze in. The steering wheel doesn’t telescope, making it more difficult to find a comfortable driving position.
It’s a Jeep
Drive around any rural community and you will see a sticker on a Jeep that says, “It’s a Jeep thing. You wouldn’t understand.” Jeep culture is strong, and fans swear by them. The Jeep Patriot is a proper Jeep. The boxy shape, round headlights and overall shape of the Patriot remind me of the old Cherokee. The Patriot feels like a large vehicle when you are driving it. The windshield sits a long way from driver. The low roofline gave me the impression I was driving an armored vehicle instead of a family car.
The Patriot sits tall with a high center of gravity. Turning sharply around a corner will cause the body to lean. Precise steering makes the Patriot a good off-road vehicle as well as on the road.
Jeep certainly hit the lofty goal of selling a sub-$16,000 vehicle. But like a lot of vehicles on sale, you do not want to look at a base version. If you do option up the Latitude reasonably, it still has a low cost of entry and provides good value. I would like to see the car do better in crash testing before giving it a glowing recommendation.
|Motor Review Fast Facts:|
|Trim Package:||Latitude 4×4|
|Fuel Economy:||21 city / 27 highway / 23 combined|
|Engine:||2.4L I4 DOHC with VVT|
|Horsepower and Torque:||172hp and 165lbs/ft|
|Base Price:||$15,995 FWD ($20,495 for Latitude 4×2 base)|
|Price as Tested:||$26,875|
|Pros:||Cargo space. Price.|
|Cons:||Safety on small overlap test.|
|Final Thoughts:||An inexpensive way to get the Jeep experience.|
|Vehicle provided by manufacturer for review.|