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.
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.
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.
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).