2015 Patriot New Car Test Drive
Jeep Patriot is the most affordable model from the off-road brand. It looks the part with its square lines, seven-slot grille, and round headlights. Patriot and Compass are based on a car platform, but still offer moderate off-road ability, and a suitably equipped Patriot earns Jeep's rigorous Trail Rated label.
Patriot carries over largely unchanged for the 2015 model year. Garmin navigation is an option for the Latitude model, and a new dome light replaces the removable, rechargeable flashlight used previously. Launched as a 2007 model, along with the Compass, the Jeep Patriot was updated for 2009, 2011 and 2014.
A four-door compact SUV, Patriot offers a roomy cabin for front and back seats. The 60/40-split rear seat folds flat, and a flat-folding front passenger seat is optional, allowing room for an 8-foot ladder.
Patriot is available with front-wheel drive or a choice of two all-wheel-drive systems, including the CVT2L version that Jeep qualifies as Trail Rated.
Those who like to go off the pavement (or tow more than 1000 pounds) should choose the Trail-Rated Freedom II AWD system. This uses gearing 20-percent lower than the other models for steeper climbs and descents. But be warned: if you mistake it for a true 4WD with a low-range transfer case, like a traditional Wrangler or big Grand Cherokee, you may soon find yourself truly stuck.
Two four-cylinder engines are offered. We prefer the 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 23/29 mpg City/Highway with the 5-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive and the 6-speed automatic transmission drop the estimate to 21/27 mpg, but we think Jeeps should have all-wheel traction. The 2.4-liter delivers good power; put the pedal down even while cruising uphill at 75 miles per hour, and it will accelerate with reasonable haste.
The smaller 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is rated 158 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque with an EPA-estimated 23/30 mpg City/Highway with the manual transmission and 2WD or 22/27 mpg City/Highway with the continuously variable transmission.
Incorporating a crawl ratio for heavier-duty off-roading, a special continuously variable transmission (CVT2L) is optional on all-wheel-drive Patriot models with the 2.4-liter engine and Freedom Drive II package. This combination gets an EPA-rated 20/23 mpg.
Patriot is light and nimble on twisty roads. When maneuvering around town, turn-in is sharp. The body is well isolated from the wheels: You can hear the tires hitting expansion strips on the freeway, but you can't really feel the impact. The independent suspension works well. We found the Patriot delivered steadiness and comfort during a long day of driving on patchy two-lanes, hard-packed dirt roads, sandy off-road trails, shallow rivers, and deep gullies.
The 2015 Jeep Patriot comes with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, with a choice of two engines. Transmission include a 5-speed manual, a 6-speed automatic transmission, a CVT continuously variable transmission, and a CVT2L continuously variable transmission with a low ratio for rugged terrain.
Patriot Sport 2WD ($16,695) comes with cloth upholstery, cargo-floor carpeting, fog lamps, tinted glass, manual-opening windows, reclining front seats, 60/40-split folding rear seat, cruise control, smart-key engine immobilizer, and an AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA four-speaker stereo. (Air conditioning is not included.) A Sport front-wheel-drive model can be equipped with the 2.4-liter engine ($495) and 6-speed automatic transmission ($1,300).
Patriot Sport AWD ($18,895) is equipped the same but comes standard with the 2.4-liter engine, all-wheel drive, and rear disc brakes that replace the rear drum brakes on the standard front-drive model. Options for Patriot Sport models include air conditioning ($1,195), 17-inch tire/aluminum-wheel group ($895), and Uconnect 230 radio with 6CD/DVD changer ($595). An All-Weather Group ($795) combines tow hooks, engine block heater, floor mats, daytime running lights, and aluminum wheels with P215/65R17 tires.
Patriot Altitude 2WD ($20,990) and Altitude AWD ($22,990) add to Sport models an option package that includes the 2.4-liter engine, 6-speed automatic, black side roof rails, and black 17-inch aluminum wheels.
Patriot Latitude 2WD ($21,095) comes standard with the 2.0-liter engine, while Latitude AWD ($24,395) includes the 2.4-liter engine and rear disc brakes with the all-wheel drive. Both Latitude models upgrade standard equipment to include air conditioning, power windows, driver's seat height adjustment, heated front seats, reclining rear seats, fold-flat front passenger seat, heated power mirrors, remote keyless entry, 115-volt outlet, and P215/60R17 tires on aluminum wheels. Options include Uconnect voice command ($495), premium Boston Acoustics speakers ($650), All-Weather Capability group ($795), Sun/Sound group ($1,545), Security & Cargo Convenience group ($695), and tow package ($250 to $485).
Patriot High Altitude 2WD ($23,675) and High Altitude AWD ($25,490) add to front-drive Latitude model an option package that includes the 2.0-liter engine, CVT2, leather-trimmed bucket seats, 6-way power driver's seat, sunroof, and 17-inch Mineral Gray aluminum wheels.
Patriot Limited 2WD ($24,695) and Limited AWD ($26,695) come standard with the 2.4-liter engine and 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. Also included are four-wheel disc brakes. Limited models come with climate control; leather-trimmed seat upholstery; 6-way power driver's seat; bright bumper inserts; bright cargo side rails; Media Center 230 AM/FM radio with 6CD/DVD changer, audio jack, and SiriusXM satellite ratio.
Options for Patriot include Uconnect Phone with Bluetooth and/or Web service and a smoker's package. The Freedom-Drive II Off-Road Group for Latitude/Limited ($750) or Sport ($1,250) upgrades 4WD models with a bigger alternator, skid plates, electronic brake traction assist, tow hooks, engine oil cooler, upgraded sealing, all-terrain tires, and full-size spare; it requires the CVT2L continuously variable transmission, with off-road crawl ratio. (All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
Safety features on all Patriot models include dual front airbags, head-protecting curtain side airbags, torso-protecting front-seat side-impact airbags, ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, traction control, electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, and active front head restraints. Optional all-wheel drive can improve handling stability in slippery conditions.