Closely related to the Dodge Caliber and Jeep Compass, the 2012 Jeep Patriot holds the upper hand with respect to interior space—thanks to the boxy body, which frees up a little more space in back and makes loading and entry easier.
The Patriot does reveal its car-based layout with an especially low front seating position; it's high enough for most to be able to see the front corners of the vehicle, yet not so high to feel tipsy as in more traditional SUV designs.
There's good seating space inside for four adults; you could wedge a narrow-shouldered third into the backseat if need be, though it is strictly compact-class legroom. The rear bench tends to be a bit too hard and flat for adults for longer distances, but kids will be fine back there.
Cargo space is where the Patriot is at its best; the tall roofline and boxy proportions help maximize usability, and rear seatbacks fold forward neatly, with added space for long items by folding the front passenger seat.
If the Patriot's layout is one of the high points, Interior refinement is the low point. Even next to other very affordable vehicles in this class, hard, hollow plastic panels are still uninspiring, and there's a lot of engine noise—especially with the CVT. New soft-touch door trim panels (front only, oddly); new padded center armrest; a new steering-wheel design, and thin chrome rings around climate control switches altogether help give the Patriot's cabin a lift, at least visually.