Quite honestly I did not realize the Jeep Patriot was the lowest priced compact utility vehicle on the market. At under 18 grand it offers value along with the on and off-road capability folks have come to know with the Jeep name. Sure, you won’t be doing any rock crawling with this unibody vehicle but Patriot can go everywhere else!
There are now five models in the Jeep lineup sporting unibody construction: Compass, Patriot, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and the Fiat-based Renegade, all of which are solidly built and all offer Jeep’s unique Trail Rating for their 4×4 capabilities. Basically, Trail Rating is Jeep’s promise the vehicle won’t leave you stuck in any really nasty stuff you encounter while driving on paved surfaces or off.
Not all Patriot models are Trail Rated as there are three drivetrain configurations: standard front-wheel drive, Freedom Drive I 4WD, and Freedom Drive II 4WD. Our recent tester arrived in Latitude 4×4 form with the Freedom Drive II off-road package powered by larger 172hp 2.4-liter I-4 World Engine backed by second-generation CVT gearbox. The base engine is a 158hp 2.0-liter I-4 World Engine and Jeep offers three transmissions in Patriot models: five-speed manual, CVT2, or six-speed PowerTech automatic.
While I was looking forward to testing the new six-speed auto I discovered the off-road package on this test vehicle requires the CVT2 transmission. It features a low range for enhanced 4×4 operation that basically takes the function of a two-speed transfer case and places it into the transmission. The Trail Rated Patriots also feature a lockable center differential and Freedom Drive II brings 17-inch all-terrain tires and aluminum wheels, full size spare tire, Hill Descent control, skid plates, tow hooks, and fog lamps to the mix along with an engine block heater.
The beauty of Jeep’s Trail Rated vehicles is that they do not sacrifice much in the way of “urban comfort” as the vehicles are very comfortable around town and on the highway, offering the latest creature comforts and amenities and a host of safety technology. While I still find CVT gearboxes take a bit of getting used to (they are the ones that wind up to a constant RPM and stay there until the driver lifts off the accelerator once optimum speed is reached) there is no harsh shifting and the new line of Chrysler/Fiat (make that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) World Engines are much smoother and quieter in operation while offering improved performance and fuel economy.
It seems to me that Patriot models were designed for the average female driver as I found myself ducking a bit every time I climbed in and out of the vehicle but my spouse had no difficulty and found the vehicle to be very accommodating to flats or heels. The Patriot seats up to five adults and the rear seat offers very good headroom and legroom. Cargo space is listed as 23 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 53.5 cubes with the second row seats folded flat.
As the Patriot features more traditional Jeep styling (especially when compared to the new Cherokee) it is not very aerodynamic – but it makes no excuses for that. It offers very good ground clearance with good front and rear brakeover for those times when the pavement ends and flat surfaces are few and far between. The compact ute is easily maneuverable and offers a very pleasant driving experience.
Pricing for a base 2WD 2016 Jeep Patriot is $17,995 with our Latitude-equipped 4×4 coming in at $28,825. Fuel economy for this tester is rated at 20 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. OK, I didn’t say the loaded Patriot was the lowest priced compact ute, just the base model is.
This loaded Latitude tester also featured upgraded infotainment package in the form of the Uconnect Media Center with its 6.5-inch color touchscreen display along with 40GB hard drive and SiriusXM Travel Link and navigation. We also enjoyed ParkView rear backup camera and remote start in this 2016 Patriot. Topping off our driving enjoyment is the Boston Acoustics premium audio system.
The 2016 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4×4 may not be quite as capable as the original Jeep models delivered to our U.S. military, but they are more than ready to tackle nearly every environment on the planet as well as nearly every climate. Patriot may be value-based but it is built on 75 years of legendary Jeep heritage and is one of those “multi-purpose tool” type vehicles that will appeal to a broad range of car buyers.