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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.
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.
- Boxy, handsome look
- City-friendly maneuverability
- Value for the money
- Real off-road capability
Next: Interior / Exterior »
- Budget interior for the budget price
- Interior design no longer fresh
- With 4WD, gas mileage plummets