2014 Jeep Patriot Review and Pricing:
Price Range: $16,990 to $26,990
The 2014 Jeep Patriot is billed as the best-priced SUV in America. That may be true, but as the old axiom goes, you get what you pay for. In the Patriot, you get a compact crossover SUV that shares its powertrains and platform with the underwhelming Jeep Compass. Both the Patriot and the Compass are descendants of the humble Dodge Caliber hatchback, yet the Patriot does its best to wear the Jeep name with pride.
With styling that recalls Jeep products of the mid-1990s, the Patriot rocks a semi-retro vibe that may work for first-time Jeep buyers. And because the Patriot offers a Trail-Rated version with a 4x4 crawl mode, it's more effective off-road than light-duty rivals like the Honda CR-V and Kia Sportage. At the very least, Jeep's engineers deserve a round of applause for taking the frumpy, front-wheel-drive Caliber and somehow turning it into a fairly serious trail-busting machine.
The base Patriot engine is a 2-liter 4-cylinder rated at 158 horsepower. Front-wheel drive is mandatory. The transmission is either a 5-speed manual or a new 6-speed automatic for 2014. With the manual, it yields 23 miles per gallon city/30 mpg highway, while the automatic returns 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway -- roughly the same as the old continuously variable automatic (CVT).
The upgraded engine (standard on Limited) is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, good for 172 hp. Front-wheel drive is standard, but two different all-wheel-drive (AWD) systems can be ordered, including the off-road-ready Freedom Drive II, which keeps the old CVT and features simulated low-range gearing. All other 2.4-liter Patriot models roll with the 5-speed manual or the 6-speed automatic. Fuel economy starts at 23 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with the manual, dropping to 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with the 6-speed automatic (21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with AWD) and 20 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with the Freedom Drive II/CVT team.
Specifying the Freedom Drive I all-wheel-drive system bumps prices up by $2,000. Freedom Drive II is available at additional cost and adds simulated low-range gearing, skid plates, an oil cooler and other off-road-oriented driving aids. Also available at additional cost are a sunroof, a touchscreen infotainment interface with digital music storage, a navigation system (Limited only), a USB port, Bluetooth and premium Boston Acoustics audio (with flip-down tailgate speakers).
Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes with 4-wheel discs on all-wheel-drive models but inferior rear drums on front-wheel-drive models (except Limited FWD), stability control and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side curtain).
Last year's Patriot received four stars overall in government crash tests, including three stars for frontal impacts and five for side impacts. Notably, the tested model lacked the then-optional front-side airbags, which are standard for 2014 -- and the government had yet to test a 2014 Patriot's side-impact resistance as of this writing. However, since the Patriot received five stars even without those side airbags, the results aren't likely to change.