HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 JEEP PATRIOT REVIEW


PHOTO
2014 Jeep Patriot

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Katrina Says: Fuel economy and better on-road performance are the highlights for the smaller 2014 Jeep Patriot crossover, with affordability being a bit of a guise as the need for costly options exist on every trim level.

INTRO TO THE PATRIOT VEHICLE
Attracting a breed of buyers drawn to the iconic Jeep brand, the smaller Patriot crossover is looking to find a home with families who want everyday function paired to all-terrain capabilities for what is hopefully a vehicle that can handle challenging mountain roads to shopping center excursions.

I drove a 2014 Jeep Patriot with the larger 172-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with the optional and all-new six-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive equipment included the basic Freedom Drive. Available in three trims – the base Sport, mid-level Latitude and more equipped Limited – my Latitude trim came with the following standard features: fog lamps; side roof rails; leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; Uconnect capabilities; and cloth bucket seats. Price as described is a $23,795.

The Patriot hasn’t fared well in the past with critics due to its energy sapping continuously variable transmission (CVT), so the upgraded six-speed is a curious and welcomed addition. Main competitors include some tough acts to follow, like the Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Unlike some other stellar Jeep products such as the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, the Patriot’s cabin is overwhelmingly forgettable. Option upgrading feels mandatory, as every desirable feature seems to have a price tag from supplemental front set-mounted side airbags to a 6.5-inch touch-screen audio display for a better equipped Unconnect package that brings Bluetooth and XM Radio. Cargo space is not a highlight, with just 53.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. These smaller crossovers also do not have life’s little vehicle luxuries, like a power tailgate, which is a prized feature on utility cars.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2014 Jeep Patriot receives ratings of “Good” in all areas, abate Small Overlap Front which earned a rating of “Poor” (for the curious, you can see crash-test results on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website). Standard safety features include: advanced multistage front airbags, supplemental side curtain front and rear airbags, electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, and anti-lock brakes.

Cost Issues: A starting base price of $15,995 for the Jeep Patriot Sport sounds reasonable, but the list of standard conveniences pale in comparison to competitors, and you must cough up the dough for a better engine, transmission and decent four-wheel drive system – so really, a fully loaded Limited is rounds out to roughly $28k.

Activity & Performance Ability: On pavement, the new six-speed transmission equates to better road cadence than experienced in previous versions. Overall, the 2.4-liter offered just moderate acceleration and never really wowed me at revving up inclines or entering freeway traffic. The Patriot’s suspension and ground clearance has improved over the years, and the upgraded Trail Rated Freedom-Drive II Off-Road Group with a brake lock differential, a fuel tank skid plate, and tow hooks help make it a decent utility vehicle.

The Green Concern: The Patriot also wins the fight for decent fuel economy with a combined 23 miles-per-gallon under the 2.4-liter and four-wheel drive. A smaller 158-horsepower 2-liter four-cylinder engine has a fuel economy of 23 miles-per-gallon city and 30 highway.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Capable of making those urban and outdoor excursions, a six-speed transmission is a welcomed addition to the 2014 Jeep Patriot’s on-road performance. However, this smaller crossover hasn’t really changed its tactics enough to be considered a top choice, and its affordability is a bit of a guise.

2014 Katrina Ramser

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