2015 Jeep Patriot Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
June 25, 2015

The 2015 Jeep Patriot is a no-nonsense budget utility, with available equipment that can take you where most little crossovers won't.

The 2015 Jeep Patriot remains a good budget-minded vehicle that, put simply, looks different than nearly everything else on the market.

The Patriot is somewhat overshadowed by the larger Cherokee and smaller Renegade models, both of them far newer and better targeted at the expanding market for small SUVs and crossover utility vehicles. That said, it lands in an intriguing middle ground. While clearly larger than the new subcompact Jeep Renegade, the Patriot isn't quite the size of the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, or Toyota RAV4--which face off directly against the Cherokee. Instead, the Compass sits in between its two siblings, more the size of the Kia Soul or perhaps the very different Nissan Juke.

Over the years since its launch as a 2007 model, Jeep has made the Patriot a better vehicle and a better value. The original was grim, loud, slow, and had a punishingly austere econocar interior--and most of those problems have been addressed in a series of updates and feature changes. Today, it offers a sensibly sized package that combines macho Jeep lines with enough softness and civility to make it practical family transport. It may not be the newest or best-equipped, but there's a lot to like regardless. 

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In a way, it reminds us of the low end of the Subaru Forester range: They're both upright small utilities that deliver all-wheel-drive capability and sensible performance without any luxury trappings. And there's room for that in this market, which is why the Patriot carries on selling even as it approaches its 10th birthday without a redesign.

The boxy, trim, bold exterior yields a tremendously useful interior, with good cargo space, and rear seatbacks that flip forward easily to make more room. 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 expect. While the details and materials are nothing to speak fondly of, the interior packaging is very well done.

Although this cute ute looks tough, it's also pretty capable in some configurations. The Patriot is available with three different drive systems: front-wheel drive or a choice of two all-wheel-drive setups. If you have snowy winters to navigate or plan to do some light off-roading, you’ll want the available Freedom Drive I system, which is pretty standard but includes a locking center differential.

The Freedom Drive II system is hardier and includes low range for real off-road conditions. It's the only Patriot that earns a ‘Trail-Rated’ badge, and is accompanied by other upgrades like additional skid plates. It's actually one of the better systems you can spec on a small crossover.

The base engine is a 158-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Top Limited models and any version equipped with all-wheel drive come standard with a 172-hp, 2.4-liter version; a five-speed manual gearbox is standard, while the six-speed automatic is offered across the lineup and the CVT is bundled with Freedom Drive II.

Our main Patriot criticism was addressed last year, when Jeep replaced the continuously variable transmission on most automatic-equipped models with a conventional six-speed torque-converter unit. (There's still a CVT paired with the most capable all-wheel-drive system, which uses a low range built into the transmission.) The new automatic 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 of the CVT.

EPA fuel-economy ratings are 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. So the capability trade-off brings it down close to Wrangler mileage numbers, without as much capability as a Wrangler.

The Patriot is offered in Sport, Altitude, Latitude, High Altitude, and Limited models for 2015, with base equipment on the Sport including fog lamps, illuminated cupholders, 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, which helps the Patriot come in as at a bargain base price below $17k including destination charges.

The Altitude package is mostly cosmetic, adding a blacked-out exterior and wheels, as well as cloth/vinyl upholstery. 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.

Changes for 2015 include the replacement of the removable headliner-mounted flashlight with a more conventional dome light, and the added option of Garmin navigation on Latitude models. A new Eco Green Clear Coat hue replaces Rugged Brown in the exterior-color list.

7

2015 Jeep Patriot

Styling

Rugged and restrained, and in its element in the city or out on the trail, the design of the 2015 Patriot still offers a lot to like.

The 2015 Patriot, sibling to Jeep's softer Compass cute ute, takes the best of the brand's cues and shrinks them all down to a city-friendly size. There's a lot of Wrangler in the front end, with the slab-sided sides and profile of older Wagoneers and Cherokees. 

Some might thing that makes it look too traditional, others will appreciate the boxy design's heritage, and others will like that the boxy exterior makes for lots of usable interior space. There's a lot to like on the outside, with proportions and sheetmetal that are squared-off 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 details like the seven-slot 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. Some brightwork has been added to the otherwise drab interior over the years, and the look remains sturdy and attractive enough. Once you get up close, though, you notice the low-rent materials, with lots of hard, dull plastic. Those wanting a nicer interior in a package this size should look to the Compass instead, as it has had a lot more attention paid to its cabin since introduction.

6

2015 Jeep Patriot

Performance

The 2015 Jeep Patriot has good maneuverability, and True Trail Rated ability; the rest is unremarkable.

Our main criticism of the Patriot's powertrain was addressed last year, when Jeep replaced the continuously variable transmission on most automatic-equipped models with a six-speed torque-converter unit. (There's still a CVT paired with the most capable all-wheel-drive system, which uses a low range built into the transmission.) The new automatic 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 of the CVT.

But that's only part of the story. The 2015 Jeep Patriot is available with three different drive systems: front-wheel drive or a choice of two all-wheel-drive setups. If you have snowy winters to navigate or plan to do some light off-roading, you’ll want the available Freedom Drive I system, which is pretty standard but includes a locking center differential. The Freedom Drive II system is hardier and includes low range for real off-road conditions. It's the only Patriot that earns a ‘Trail-Rated’ badge, and is accompanied by other upgrades like additional skid plates. It's actually one of the better systems you can spec on a small crossover.

The base engine is a 158-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Top Limited models and any version equipped with all-wheel drive come standard with a 172-hp, 2.4-liter version; a five-speed manual gearbox is standard, while the six-speed automatic is offered across the lineup and the CVT is bundled with Freedom Drive II.

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.

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—at that point it might make sense to go with the more capable Wrangler.

7

2015 Jeep Patriot

Comfort & Quality

Boxy proportions set the Patriot up for plenty of space and versatility, and it delivers -- but cabin ambience is mediocre.

The 2015 Jeep Patriot has a utilitarian interior that's nicely laid out but not beautifully trimmed. Its sibling the Compass has gotten the interior updates, while the less-expensive trimmings help the Patriot go after a slightly better value.

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.

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 remove the aura of econo-car cheapness that pervades this cabin.

7

2015 Jeep Patriot

Safety

The Jeep Patriot isn't one to recommend to those who prioritize the latest active-safety features.

The 2015 Jeep Patriot doesn't get outstanding crash-test scores overall. Since it's an older design, the crash standards have become more strict while the little Jeep has remained largely unchanged structurally.

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 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Both frontal crash and rollover ratings only receive three out of five stars; no side-impact score is given for the 2015 model, although the nearly identical 2014 received five stars in that category.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests, the Patriot still gets top 'good' results in most categories, yet a worrisome 'poor' rating in that agency's tougher new small-overlap frontal test. Again, the age of the Patriot means it wasn't designed with this test in mind, although that doesn't necessarily mean it will be unsafe in similar crashes.

Standard-feature safety content includes all the typical items, like electronic stability control with roll mitigation, front side airbags, and side-curtain bags. The Patriot also adds off-road brake traction control and hill descent control for models with 4WD. Outward visibility is excellent in the Patriot—a function of its boxy body and plenty of glass.

9

2015 Jeep Patriot

Features

You'll need to pay a lot extra for the top-level off-road ability that's available; otherwise the Patriot is a high-value deal.

The Patriot is offered in Sport, Altitude, Latitude, High Altitude, and Limited models for 2015.

All Patriots, including the base Sport model, include fog lamps, illuminated cupholders, rear-seat heater ducts, tilt steering, cruise control, roof side rails, tinted glass, and an auxiliary input. There’s no standard air conditioning, which helps the Patriot come in at a bargain base price below $17k including destination charges. A/C is at least an option on the Sport.

The Altitude package is mostly cosmetic, adding a blacked-out exterior and wheels, as well as cloth/vinyl upholstery. 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. The High Altitude Patriot nets some of what's included with the Limited (leather seats, power driver's seat), adds a sunroof, and gets its own painted 17-inch wheels. 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, upgraded audio with SiriusXM, and the standard 2.4-liter engine.

Options include Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, 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 flip to face outward.

Front-wheel drive is standard, but there's also a choice of two four-wheel drive systems—Freedom Drive I, and Freedom Drive II. 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. All four-wheel-drive Patriots include the 2.4-liter engine.

Changes for 2015 include the replacement of the removable headliner-mounted flashlight with a more conventional dome light, and the added option of Garmin navigation on Latitude models. A new Eco Green Clear Coat hue replaces Rugged Brown in the exterior-color list.

6

2015 Jeep Patriot

Fuel Economy

Set your expectations low, because the 2015 Jeep Patriot isn't going to impress you as fuel-efficient for its size.

The 2015 Jeep Patriot isn't going to impress you with its fuel economy--despite the impression that it's small and frugal.

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); 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.

But in some respects, the Patriot might make sense. If you stick with one of the simpler front-wheel-drive models, you get an economical, city-friendly vehicle with a low sticker price -- one that's so low in some cases it might help make up for the less impressive mileage. But make sure you take a good look at the mileage on the window sticker before you make a decision.

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August 2, 2015
2015 Jeep Patriot FWD 4-Door Sport

The most comfortable, amazing SUV i have ever owned!!

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I can not say enough good for this Jeep!! I couldn't be more satisfied and happier!!!!! I would recommend to anyone!! These are the BEST!!!
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July 22, 2015
2015 Jeep Patriot 4WD 4-Door Latitude

It is a great fit for my family

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great very happy with it. great price , very comfortable
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January 28, 2015
For 2015 Jeep Patriot

compact, trail worthy SUV

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'15 Latitude owner with FD II. Great compact SUV that is rugged enough to handle tough off road adventures. Not like a Wrangler but holds its own. Has ample interior space, comfortable to drive. Simple design... + More »
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Styling 7.0
Performance 6.0
Comfort & Quality 7.0
Safety 7.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy 6.0
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