Inside the New Jeep Patriot

Although it is not the smallest Jeep anymore, the 2016 Jeep Patriot remains the least expensive. In fact, it is the cheapest SUV you can buy. If you are weighing the pros and cons, keep in mind that it's hard to keep the price down when the base edition doesn't even include air conditioning.

Cost and Competition

At $17,695 MSRP, the Jeep Patriot Sport is definitely a money-saving choice. Up until the last few years, the Patriot had very little competition compared to today’s crowd of compact SUVs. Even with more rivals, it offers a less costly alternative to any of them. This includes the Honda HRV, the Nissan Juke, and the Chevy Trax. It also priced cheaper than Jeep’s own Renegade. Yet there is a sacrifice that you’ll notice as you weigh its pros and cons.

Exterior Style

The Jeep Patriot looks more like SUVs used to look. It’s boxy, tall, and rugged. Patriot standards include 15-inch steel wheels and roof rails. You can also get:

  • adjustable roof-rack crossbars
  • gloss-gray trim (Sport SE)
  • chrome trim (High Altitude)
  • sunroof

Adventure Capability

You won’t find anything more off-road capable at Patriot prices. Yet it does bring the Patriot up to the cost of the competition's base editions. For lighter use, the Sport SE package adds height to the front-wheel drive models. The all-weather package adds bigger alloys, tow hooks, and daytime running lights. Jeep even offers a trailer wiring harness.

The Freedom drive II Off-Road group adds the unique features you'll need to go off-roading. It is specially sealed against water, permitting the Patriot driver to ford through water up to 19 inches. It also adds:

  • four-wheel drive
  • skid plates
  • hill start assist
  • hill descent control

Performance and Fuel Economy

To get off-roading capability, you have to spring for the more expensive 2.4-liter World Engine. This powertrain kicks out 172 horsepower and 165 lb.-ft. of torque. If that sounds low to you, it is actually higher than most compact rivals.

Fuel efficiency is only 28 mpg highway, which definitely doesn’t stand up to those same competitors. The base edition generates only 158 horsepower. With the pricier automatic transmission, it can earn 30 mpg highway. If you want better fuel economy, you’ll need to spend more for the Honda HRV or Subaru Crosstrek.

Just the Basics

When it comes to luxuries, you won’t find any on the 2016 Jeep Patriot Sport. There’s a reason it is priced below $18,000. It doesn’t offer much. The driver’s chair has few adjustments, and the steering wheel is a tilt-only type. Manual locks and manual windows are standard, and air conditioning is just an option. The small cargo hold can be expanded by split-folding the back row.

There’s no touchscreen or a USB port, but you do get Bluetooth and an auxiliary audio jack. The streaming audio system works with UConnect voice commands. To sweeten the deal, Jeep is offering a complimentary satellite radio subscription.

Upgrading the Ride

If you want to upgrade your ride, you’ll find your costs rise quickly as you pay for power accessories and air conditioning. The Sport SE retails for $19,840 MSRP. It adds heated seats and a leather-clad steering wheel.

For a nicer cabin, you may opt for the Latitude, listed at $22,295 MSRP. The driver will appreciate an adjustable driver’s seat, and backseat passengers will like the reclining seatbacks. This edition also adds a 6.5-inch touchscreen. Adding to costs, you can opt for navigation, a USB port, and a rearview camera.

High Altitude Edition

If you want life’s luxuries, you’ll find that the Patriot has now surpassed the base prices of its competitors and moved into Jeep Cherokee territory. At $24,495 MSRP, the High Altitude dresses the seats in leather. It adds a power driver’s chair and a sunroof. A Bose system includes two drop-down tailgate speakers. You can also option:

  • WiFi connectivity
  • luggage cover
  • push button start
  • auto-dimming rearview mirror

Safety Features

Patriot safety features include six airbags, active head restraints, electronic roll mitigation, and traction controls. However, the Patriot's biggest deficit is safety. It doesn’t do well in testing by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It also lacks crash avoidance features. You will have to look at the Honda HRV and other rivals to find that.

Clearly the Patriot's allure is in its low pricetag. If you need too many amenities on top of that, you may want to look at higher priced competitors.

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