2012 Jeep Patriot Limited 4×4 review: Meeting a need

2012 June Patriot Limited 4x4

2012 June Patriot Limited 4x4

There’s a need for a vehicle such as the Jeep Patriot. With full-time four-wheel drive and generous ground clearance, the Patriot has the ability to drive through low traction conditions of mud, snow and sand. Its squared-off body contours allow a lot of interior room while its flat roof can easily accommodate even more cargo. It’s small enough to park, but big enough for four passengers to ride comfortably, but the rear seatbacks fold to make a flat load floor to the backs of the front seats.

For basic utility, it’s hard to beat. And we haven’t talked about its low price yet.

2.4-liter four-cylinder engine standard in the 2012 June Patriot Limited 4x4

2.4-liter four-cylinder engine standard in the 2012 June Patriot Limited 4x4 (click to enlarge)

It is the lowest priced model in the Jeep lineup, though it shares its platform and drivetrain with the Jeep Compass, which is sleeker…if that’s a quality that applies to any Jeep product…and smaller than the Jeep Liberty. The Liberty rides on a 106.1 inch wheelbase versus 103.7 inches for the Patriot and Compass. And while the Patriot and Compass have a 2.0-liter four as standard equipment with a 2.4-liter four optional, the Liberty has a standard V-6. The Liberty is a mid-size SUV, the Compass and Patriot are compacts.

Our test 2012 Jeep Patriot was the top of the line Limited model, although the Patriot is available in Sport trim for a base price of $15,995, not including delivery and not including niceties such as power windows. The base Sport model, however, is equipped with front wheel drive, which sort of defeats the purpose of an SUV. But optional even on the base Sport model is Jeep’s Freedom Drive I, a full-time all-wheel drive system with locking center differential. Freedom Drive I is intended for normal day-to-day operation but includes a locking center differential for use in deep snow or sand.

2012 June Patriot Limited 4x4 interior

The interior of the 2012 June Patriot Limited is much improved after its recent upgragde. (Click to enlarge.)

Drivers anticipating tougher going have the option of Freedom Drive II, a part of $2,150 package that makes the Patriot  “Trail Rated” and includes a continuously variable transmission with a low crawl ratio for conditions including steep climbs with some wheel lifting. But no automatic means not Trail Rated.

Jeep’s four trim levels start at Sport and Latitude, both with the 2.0-liter engine and front-wheel drive, then Attitude and Limited with all-wheel drive, powered by the 2.4-liter.The latter is similar to the 2009 Jeep Limited we tested, but that vehicle had the Freedom Drive II package. Our tester this time makes do with Freedom Drive I.

Our test 2012 Jeep Patriot Limited 4×4 was hardly Spartan, however, with standard heated front seats with six-way power on the driver’s side, an AM/FM/six-CD/MP3/satellite audio system, automatic temperature control, a 115-volt power outlet, 17-inch alloy wheels and more, for a base price of $25,330.

2012 Jeep Patriot LImited cargo

The 2012 Jeep Patriot LImited cargo area has a flat floor with the rear seat folded forward (Click to englarge.)

A Security and Convenience Group adds front side airbags (oddly not standard, an invitation to ambulance chasing lawyers), Uconnect voice command with Bluetooth, a USB port for mobile devices and more.  An optional Premium Sound Group with nine Boston speakers includes swing-down tailgate speakers for annoying people in the next campsite over. A media center package includes additional audio features, a 40GB hard drive and nav/traffic. The bottom line of our tester came to $28,640. (see page 3 below for a window sticker).

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John is a veteran auto writer, first published in Custom Rodder magazine in 1980. Since then, he has been published in all the big car magazines, including Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Auto Week, Automobile, plus a variety of others, including but certainly not limited to Automobile Quarterly, Collectible Automobile, and Special Interest Automobiles. John’s work has also been featured in a number of consumer and general interest magazines such as Consumers Digest, Popular Science and others. John has written four books, including a history of the Mazda RX-7 (selling for more out-of-print than it did new), buyers’ guides for Mazda, Datsun/Nissan and Volvo cars, and is co-author of 365 Cars You Must Drive with Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, and his work has been translated into Italian, Estonian, Portuguese, Russian, and Bulgarian. John is recipient of the prestigious Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, awarded by the International Motor Press Association, and the Golden Quill from the Washington Automotive Press Association. John has three adult daughters and has been married for more that four decades to Mary Ann, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.

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