2014 Jeep Patriot Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 11, 2014

A new six-speed automatic transmission helps the 2014 Jeep Patriot take on urban errands and weekend adventures with a little more smoothness and quiet than before.

In a market filled with small crossover utility vehicles like the CR-V and RAV4—and increasingly smaller CUVs like the Juke, Cube and Soul, the 2014 Jeep Patriot fits right in—as a refreshingly different alternative

The Patriot hasn’t changed much in the seven years since it was first introduced, and that’s a good thing. There's a lot to like—just enough softness and civility mated with lots of macho Jeep appeal and influences from the Wrangler and Liberty. Jeep never missed a thing on the Patriot's exterior, but its interior could have used more attention, with a look that falls to econocar mediocrity up close.

Now what is a good thing, and what should make the 2014 Jeep Patriot more appealing than in the present or past, is that Jeep has finally thrown the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) to the wayside, replacing it with a new six-speed automatic transmission that has a low first gear for quicker takeoffs, a tall top gear for relaxed cruising and—as we've already verified with a short spin—a significant relief from the coarse drone upon almost any level of acceleration that accompanied the CVT combination.

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Don’t take the Patriot’s styling as just a ruse—at least not completely. Just as before the Patriot comes with three different drive systems: front-wheel drive. If you have snowy winters to navigate, or steep gravel or muddy trails to take to the campsite, you’ll want the available Freedom Drive I (all-wheel drive, but with a locking center differential). Step up to the Freedom Drive II system, which is a hardier system up to task for tougher forest trails and true off-road conditions, and you’ll get the full-on ‘Trail-Rated’ badge—including additional skid plates and other upgrades. It's actually one of the better systems you can spec on a small crossover.

The engine is familiar: a 158-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder ‘World Engine.’ Top Limited models come upgrade to a 172-hp, 2.4-liter version; a five-speed manual gearbox is standard, while the six-speed automatic is offered as a step up across the lineup. EPA fuel economy ratings remain as high as 30 mpg on the highway, but they dip down to the 20-mpg mark if you get that Freedom Drive II package—and that's awfully close to Wrangler territory, we know.

While the details and materials are nothing to speak fondly of, nothing much has changed about the interior packaging, and that's yet another good thing. The boxy, trim, bold look yields a tremendously useful interior, with good cargo space, and rear seatbacks that flip forward easily to expand space. We’ve found entry and exit very easy, thanks to the tall roofline, with plenty of headroom front and back—although the seating position is a little lower than you might imagine.

The Patriot is offered in Sport, Latitude, and Limited models for 2014, with base equipment on the Sport including fog lamps, illuminated cupholders, a removable rechargeable flashlight, rear-seat heater ducts, tilt steering, cruise control, roof side rails, tinted glass, and an auxiliary input, plus Hill Start Assist and electronic stability control with roll mitigation. There’s no standard air conditioning, but base prices start at a bargain $15,995.

Latitude models step up to air conditioning, power windows and locks, power heated mirrors, keyless entry, front heated cloth seats, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a 115-volt power inverter, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. Get the Limited, and you’re in with a power driver’s seat, four-wheel disc brakes, leather seats, automatic climate control, an info center, and upgraded audio with SiriusXM.

7

2014 Jeep Patriot

Styling

The 2014 Jeep Patriot looks rugged but not overwrought, and still fits in nicely, whether in the city or on the trail.

The Patriot hasn’t changed much in the seven years since it was first introduced, and that’s a good thing. There's a lot to like—just enough softness and civility mated with lots of macho Jeep appeal and influences from the Wrangler and Liberty.

To some, the Patriot will seem overly traditional-looking; yet to others it's straightforward, with the boxy design refreshing in a class of rakish rooflines. There's a lot to like on the outside, with proportions and sheetmetal that are boxy but not too refrigerator-like, as well as detailing that keeps it simple but purposeful. There's just enough softness and civility mated with lots of macho Jeep appeal and influences from the Wrangler and Liberty—including the Jeep slotted grille.

Jeep never missed a thing on the Patriot's exterior, but its interior could have used more attention, with a look that falls to econocar mediocrity up close. They've added some brightwork in recent years, and the look remains sturdy and attractive enough, it's passable from some feet away, but up close it still feels drab, with low-rent materials, too much hard, dull plastic, and an econo-car look in general.

6

2014 Jeep Patriot

Performance

True Trail Rated ability and city-savvy maneuverability highlight the good points, and a new six-speed automatic should boost drivability for 2014.

Some of our most significant reservations about the Patriot are getting dismissed out for 2014. Why? Because Jeep has finally thrown the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) to the wayside, replacing it with a new six-speed automatic transmission.

This new transmission has a low first gear for quicker takeoffs, a tall top gear for relaxed cruising and—as we've already verified with a short spin—a significant relief from the coarse drone upon almost any level of acceleration that accompanied the CVT combination.

But that's only part of the story. Just as before the Patriot comes with three different drive systems: front-wheel drive. If you have snowy winters to navigate, or steep gravel or muddy trails to take to the campsite, you’ll want the available Freedom Drive I (all-wheel drive, but with a locking center differential).

Step up to the Freedom Drive II system, which is a hardier system up to task for tougher forest trails and true off-road conditions, and you’ll get the full-on ‘Trail-Rated’ badge—including additional skid plates and other upgrades. It's actually one of the better systems you can spec on a small crossover.

The engine is familiar: a 158-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder ‘World Engine.’ Top Limited models come upgrade to a 172-hp, 2.4-liter version; a five-speed manual gearbox is standard, while the six-speed automatic is offered as a step up across the lineup. EPA fuel economy ratings remain as high as 30 mpg on the highway, but they dip down to the 20-mpg mark if you get that Freedom Drive II package—and that's awfully close to Wrangler territory, we know.

Whether for daily commuting or out on the open road, for outdoor types on a budget, the Patriot works well enough. It's especially useful around town, where it's a joy to maneuver and handle, and parking is easy. That's the good; the bad is that if you have more discerning tastes, it's lacking in sophistication and refinement.

7

2014 Jeep Patriot

Comfort & Quality

The Patriot has a boxy exterior, and that translates to a roomy, versatile interior; but the interior can't shake a cut-rate ambiance.

While the details and materials are nothing to speak fondly of, nothing much has changed about the interior packaging, and that's yet another good thing.

The Patriot's Achilles' Heel—which some will find hard to accept—is the amount of noise and vibration that enters the cabin, as well as the hard, hollow plastic panels that line the cabin. Chrysler has in recent model years added a little more noise insulation, a padded armrest, and some bright trim rings to the climate-control knobs, but that wasn't enough to much improve the aura of econo-car cheapness that pervades this cabin.

The boxy, trim, bold look yields a tremendously useful interior, with good cargo space, and rear seatbacks that flip forward easily to expand space. There's good passenger space for four, and the tall roofline makes entry and exit easy. You could potentially wedge a third into the middle position in back, but you'll be reminded that this is a compact vehicle. Seating comfort is lackluster, with somewhat unsupportive front seats and rather stuff, unpadded back-seat accommodations.

We’ve found entry and exit very easy, thanks to the tall roofline, with plenty of headroom front and back—although the seating position is a little lower than you might imagine.

7

2014 Jeep Patriot

Safety

In safety, the Jeep Patriot is merely middle-of-the-road among current models.

The 2014 Jeep Patriot is no longer the safety achiever it was a couple of model years ago; since then, the U.S. crash-test agencies have raised their standards and a host of rivals have emerged with stronger body structures.

While the federal government has given it high scores across the board on past models, the Patriot receives only four out of five stars for overall safety. Side impact tests remain excellent, while both frontal crash and rollover ratings only receive three out of five stars. And in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests, the Patriot still gets top 'good' results in most categories—enough for the Top Safety Pick accolade one more time—yet a worrisome 'poor' rating in that agency's tougher new small-overlap frontal test.

Standard-feature content includes all the typical items, like off-road brake traction control and hill descent control for models with 4WD and for all models, electronic stability control with roll mitigation, front side airbags, and side-curtain bags. We've found outward visibility to be excellent in the Patriot—a function of its boxy body.

9

2014 Jeep Patriot

Features

The 2014 Patriot offers a lot of features for the money, but you'll pay a lot extra for its top-level off-road ability.

The Patriot is offered in Sport, Latitude, and Limited models for 2014, with base equipment on the Sport including fog lamps, illuminated cupholders, a removable rechargeable flashlight, rear-seat heater ducts, tilt steering, cruise control, roof side rails, tinted glass, and an auxiliary input, plus Hill Start Assist and electronic stability control with roll mitigation. There’s no standard air conditioning, but base prices start at a bargain $15,995.

Latitude models step up to air conditioning, power windows and locks, power heated mirrors, keyless entry, front heated cloth seats, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a 115-volt power inverter, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. Get the Limited, and you’re in with a power driver’s seat, four-wheel disc brakes, leather seats, automatic climate control, an info center, and upgraded audio with SiriusXM.

Options include voice-control Bluetooth connectivity, a remote start system, a navigation system with Sirius Travel Link, a universal garage-door opener, and a Boston Acoustics sound system with tailgate speakers that face outward.

Patriot shoppers who want more than front-wheel drive have a choice of two four-wheel drive systems—Freedom Drive I, and Freedom Drive II Off-Road. The latter includes a low range plus a heavier-duty suspension, skid plates, and other enhancements. Add the All-Weather Capability Group and you'll also get 17-inch all-terrain tires, an engine block heater, and tow hooks.

6

2014 Jeep Patriot

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage ratings for most of the 2014 Jeep Patriot lineup are shockingly low.

The 2014 Jeep Patriot isn't going to impress you with its fuel economy--despite the impression that it's small and frugal. Fuel economy ratings are 30 mpg at best, and they dip to the low 20s if you want 4WD and especially the Freedom Drive II package. If your reaction is that you might as well get a Wrangler at that thirst, well...yes...we agree.

economical, city-friendly vehicle in many respects—and one powered by four-cylinder engines—you should take a careful look at the window sticker and fuel economy figures before you make your final decision.

Fuel economy ratings for the Patriot now range up to 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway (that's for the five-speed-manual model).

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May 30, 2015
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After considerable research,I purchased the 2014 Latitude (auto) for about $23k,out the door,with features of competitors that cost up to $30K. The EPA mileage (22/26) has come true! and although 2 WD,drove it... + More »
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Styling 7.0
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