2012 Jeep Patriot SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Jeep Patriot SUV

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Jeep Patriot Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Four Wheel Drive
  • Transmission CVT Automatic
  • Horse Power 172 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 21/26 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Jeep Patriot

  • Those wanting a cheap way to travel off the beaten path might want to consider the 2012 Jeep Patriot. But in most other areas, the Patriot is outclassed.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Low base price; Jeep-lite styling; above-average off-road ability; clever features.

  • Cons

    Sluggish acceleration; poor braking distances; disappointing fuel economy; limited cargo capacity.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Jeep Patriot has had its available continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) recalibrated for improved performance.

Full 2012 Jeep Patriot Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Jeep Patriot has had its available continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) recalibrated for improved performance.


The 2012 Jeep Patriot is caught between a vision of Jeep-style off-road authenticity and suburban-style everyday utility. It's a difficult mix to make, and the process is complicated by the demands of a low sticker price and high fuel economy.

A car-type unibody platform like the Patriot's can be made to deliver trail-rated performance, as the Jeep Grand Cherokee has proven for several decades, so we shouldn't be surprised to see that the Patriot can be fitted with an optional off-road option package. It gives this small crossover surprising capability in the dirt thanks to increased ride height, skid plates and a four-wheel-drive system complete with a transfer case that has dual-range gear ratios for low-speed crawling.

It's the Patriot's highway personality that has been the obstacle that has kept this Dodge Caliber-based crossover from getting much respect. The combination of a small four-cylinder engine and a CVT makes for great fuel economy but relatively unimpressive performance — an issue that plagues many compact crossovers, not just the Patriot. Last year the Jeep engineers brought more personality to the Patriot with revised suspension and steering hardware, and now the CVT has been recalibrated for 2012. The automaker's design team has also added some soft-touch materials to its easy-to-clean, industrial-style cabin.

The Patriot's real challenge, however, lies in the quality of its competition, because this segment of compact crossovers is one of the most competitive in the market. Buyers simply looking for some added peace of mind when road conditions turn ugly will find all-wheel-drive versions of small crossovers like the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V and Kia Sportage to be more refined alternatives.

As compact crossovers go, the Jeep Patriot is indeed the one meant to get dirty, whether it's simple weekend sport or real all-terrain mobility. But if you're just looking for a people-friendly transportation box, you probably want to give this Patriot a crisp salute and look to its more well-rounded competition.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Jeep Patriot is a compact SUV that's offered in three trim levels: Sport, Latitude and Limited.

The entry-level Sport model comes with 16-inch steel wheels, foglamps, rear privacy glass, roof rack side rails, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks, cruise control, outside temperature display, a tilt-only steering wheel with audio controls, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. Options include air-conditioning and the Power Value Group, which adds keyless entry, full power accessories and heated mirrors.

The midrange Latitude trim level adds the Sport's above optional items. plus 17-inch alloy wheels, remote ignition, heated front seats, a height-adjustable driver seat, a fold-flat front passenger seat, 60/40-split-folding and reclining rear seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a 115-volt AC power outlet and a trip computer.

The top-of-the-line Limited model adds a few extras including a larger four-cylinder engine, four-wheel disc brakes, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat and an upgraded sound system with a six-CD changer (optional on Sport) and satellite radio.

The Security and Cargo Convenience Group available on the Latitude and Limited adds daytime running lights, front-seat side-impact airbags (available separately on the Sport), roof rack crossbars, remote ignition, a cargo cover, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and Bluetooth (available separately on all trims). The Sun and Sound Group also available on the Latitude and Limited adds a sunroof and a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics audio system with two fold-down speakers in the tailgate (which is also available separately). The Off-Road Group available on all Patriots with Freedom Drive I adds the Freedom Drive II all-wheel-drive system, all-terrain tires, skid plates, tow hooks and hill descent control.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Jeep Patriot Sport and Latitude models come standard with front-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 158 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a CVT is optional. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 23 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined with the CVT and 23/29/25 with the manual.

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder is optional on the front-drive Sport and Latitude, and standard on the Limited and all Patriots equipped with the "Freedom Drive I" all-wheel-drive system. It produces 172 hp and 165 lb-ft, and also features the five-speed manual and CVT (standard on Limited). The optional "Freedom Drive II" is a more traditional four-wheel-drive system with a low-range transfer case that makes it more suitable for off-pavement exploration.

In Edmunds testing, a four-wheel-drive Patriot with the 2.4-liter engine and CVT went from zero to 60 mph in 10.3 seconds, a slow time for this type of vehicle. EPA-rated fuel economy ranges from a decent 23/28/25 with the manual and front-wheel drive to 20/23/21 with Freedom Drive II.


All 2012 Jeep Patriots come standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints and side curtain airbags. Front-seat side-impact airbags are optional on all models. In Edmunds brake testing, a four-wheel-drive Patriot came to a stop from 60 mph in a poor 143 feet -- about 20 feet longer than average.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Patriot its top "Good" rating in frontal-offset crash tests. Results were mixed in the organization's side impact tests, however, with the Patriot earning a "Good" rating when equipped with the optional side-impact airbags and a second-to-worst "Marginal" without them.

Interior Design and Special Features

At first glance the Patriot's interior looks nice enough, if a little utilitarian. On closer examination, however, the extensive use of easy-to-clean but hard plastics in the off-road style keep the interior from feeling comfortable. Almost every compact crossover is nicer. The front seats are comfortable enough, but rear seat legroom is tight in the outboard seats and virtually nonexistent in the center position.

Large, easy-to-read gauges and user-friendly controls reinforce the Jeep's off-road heritage. Other positives include clever ideas like the cargo area lamp that pops out to become a rechargeable LED flashlight and the optional Boston Acoustic speakers that flip down from the raised liftgate to provide tunes for your next tailgate party.

Which brings us to the Patriot's undersize cargo hold, the interior's notable weakness. With just 23 cubic feet of space behind the 60/40-split rear seats and 53.5 cubic feet with both sections folded down, it's significantly smaller than those in crossover competitors like the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester. That said, the standard fold-flat front passenger seat makes it possible to squeeze long items inside and still get the tailgate closed.

Driving Impressions

Of the 2012 Jeep Patriot's two available engines, even the larger 2.4-liter is underwhelming when it comes to highway power, but the availability of a five-speed manual transmission makes this vehicle very capable for off-road adventure.

Since the available Freedom Drive I all-wheel-drive system is really only meant to provide added peace of mind when roads turn slippery, it's the Freedom Drive II system you'll want if you expect to be spending much time in the dirt.

At the same time, this dimension of off-road capability also has consequences in the calibration of the suspension, so the comfort quotient in the fast lane on the freeway might not be what you expect. Then again, a Jeep is meant to deliver a certain amount of toughness.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

2012 patriot 4x2 latitude -

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Vehicle: 2012 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl CVT)

I have been considering purchasing a Patriot since they first came out, and since then they have made tons of improvements! I test drove a 2010 did not like it enough to make the commitment. My last vehicle was an 03 Corolla, so it was quite a change for me. I wanted a car with lots of cargo space and decent mileage, so I looked at some smaller cars like the Fit, Impreza, and XV Crosstrek. I found the Patriot to be the best combo of style, utility, mileage for my tastes. I have wanted a Jeep ever since I was a kid, and the Patriot delivers! I finally chose a White Altitude Edition, which is an amazing color combo! LOVE my Pat!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

Great vehicle, excellent value

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Vehicle: 2012 Jeep Patriot Sport 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

I got the Jeep Patriot Sport 2WD with the 2.0L engine. I opted for CVT over the standard 5 speed manual. And I'm in Texas so it had to have A/C. But I chose to go without power locks, power windows, heated mirrors, etc. I've had it for six months now and it's a pleasure to drive and comfortable to travel in. It handles highways well. I've done driving on two-tracks and rough dirt roads on government land and it handled them with ease. The controls are large making them easy to see and use. The windows give you a nice sight picture all the way around and the mirrors give a great view to the back whether going down the road or backing into a garage. Overall, I very happy with my Patriot.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

Surprisingly jeep-like! but...incredibly comfortable.

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Vehicle: 2012 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl CVT)

I reluctantly and sullenly bought the Patriot over a year ago. With a growing family, full sized dog & insane gas prices, I traded in my Wrangler with resent...the poor Patriot didn't have a chance. I hated it before I even set foot in the Jeep dealership-lol I was 100% wrong. I honestly cannot say anything bad about this vehicle. I really like it! I grew up with a CJ5 as our "family" car, I have no idea how my parents managed that!?! My favorite Jeep product I ever owned was a 1988 Cherokee & the sweet little Patriot comes darn close to that Cherokee in looks and solid feel. Performance is far better, off-roading...well, I'm older now & seldom hit the trails. Great little 4X4Xme.

Best suv deal in the

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Vehicle: 2012 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl CVT)

I have 2k miles on my Patriot Sport 4WD CVT and I am very happy with it. Some reviews state that it lacks power. I have no problem with the acceleration but I am no jack rabbit starter. The CVT(tranny) takes a little getting use to but is fine after you do. It is a stick/auto so you can up/down shift it at will through 6 speeds. I get 26mpg highway w/o the A/C, 20 in the city. I don't go 4-wheeling but have gone over rough terrain at camp and it is fine for that. I'm sure it is going to good in the snow in the coming winters. I ended up paying $19.5k after discounts/incentives/bargining the MSRP was $22.5. I recommended this car.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Good, inexpensive 4wd wagon

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Vehicle: 2012 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl CVT)

My Patriot is a 2.4 Latitude 4x4 but with a manual trans and not a CVT (something the Jeep site says shouldn't exist). There is lots to like here: the size is right, the price is low, the feature content is high for the price, the interior is roomy and comfortable, visibility is excellent, its quiet, the seats are great, the ride and handling balance is very good, and the 4WD system works well and has a locking center diff. I love the simplicity of the interior although the materials could be better, but they look long-wearing. Plenty of cargo room in reality. Looks far better than the soap-bar competetion and remains a true 4WD station wagon. For someone like me, a solid choice.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

True utility vehicle

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Vehicle: 2012 Jeep Patriot Limited 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl CVT)

Jeep patriot sport 4cyl 2wd. Im in agricultural sales, so I dont drive all highway. I drive pastures, dirt road, highway and city. This Jeep is my office. Its my first Jeep to ever own. Its also my first small car to ever own. I had to buy this for work. I drive a 3/4 ton truck otherwise. The fuel mileage is great (27mpg on average). Bought new for a great price. Have put over 10000 miles on in less than 3 months. It drives great over all kinds of terrain (highway, city, dirt roads, and pasture). It performs like u would hope a Jeep would. For a small SUV it has plenty of room to haul many kinds of items. I am truly surprised to be happy with this car

Talk About The 2012 Patriot

Gas Mileage


  • 21
  • cty
  • 26
  • highway
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Identifix Reliability Ratings

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