2016 Jeep Patriot Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
June 29, 2016

Available equipment in the 2016 Jeep Patriot will take you where other small crossovers won't; but its dated cabin design keeps it from feeling as smart as it could be.

The 2016 Jeep Patriot may be somewhat overshadowed by the larger Cherokee and smaller Renegade models—both of far newer, with far superior packaging—but it's worth considering if cost-conscious transportation is one of your top priorities.

The Patriot lands in an intriguing middle ground between mainstream compact crossovers like the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, or Toyota RAV4, and some of the smaller models such as the Kia Soul, Honda HR-V, Nissan Juke, or Chevrolet Trax.

While the original Patriot was something of a disaster—think loud, sluggish, and austere—Jeep has found ways to make this vehicle a far better, more appealing vehicle. 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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From a design standpoint, it offers what the Subaru Forester has in its past iterations. 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 one surprise is that the seating position is lower than expected, with the dash rather high and enveloping.

The base engine on the Patriot is a 158-horsepower, 2.0-liter inline-4. Top Limited models and any version equipped with all-wheel drive come standard with a 172-hp, 2.4-liter version; a 5-speed manual gearbox is standard, while the 6-speed automatic is offered across the lineup and the CVT is bundled with Freedom Drive II.

That system, by the way, enabled the Trail Rated badge—and some degree of capability for churning through sand and mud, and even doing some mild rock-crawling—in part because the CVT has a low range. But the CVT definitely brings drivability down on streets and highways, with rubber-band-like responses and the sort of engine boominess that has otherwise been banished from this lineup. Think twice before going with the top four-wheel-drive system, as the 6-speed automatic has the Patriot feeling much more zippy and refined. 

The Patriot is offered in Sport and Latitude models, as part of a lineup that's been slimmed down somewhat in the Renegade's wake (and in what could be a long goodbye, as this model is due to be retired in a year or so). Base equipment on the Sport includes 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, but those super-budget-conscious types are going to appreciate how it keeps the base price to around $18,000.

Patriot Latitude models add 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 plug, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.

Last year's Limited model is gone, but it's been replaced with some expanded option packages that cover most of that ground—except the four-wheel disc brakes, perhaps. Later in the year a new Sport SE package will step up ride height on front-wheel drive models, add tow hooks to four-wheel-drive models, and bring other upgrades like heated mesh front seats and Mineral Gray alloy wheels, and roof rails.

In base configuration with front-drive and a 5-speed manual transmission, the Patriot returns 23/30/26 mpg. With all-wheel drive, the larger 2.4-liter, and an automatic, those numbers dip significantly to 20/26/22 mpg.

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