Vehicle was used as daily commuter as well as weekender for camping, fishing, car topper boating. Pound for pound it was the most reliable, cheap to own, bang for the buck vehicles I've ever owned. The only reason I am trading is my wife preffers an automatic tranny.
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.
MPG!!! Whether it's just me and my lunchbox going to work, or loaded with 1,000 pounds of people and luggage (and two mountain bikes on the roof-rack) on a 1,100 mile trip across the Ozarks to the midwest, I consistently get 24.8 to 25.1 MPG.
Large, easy to see controls means less time spent looking for and fumbling with small knobs and buttons. Your eyes spend more time on the road.
I love the automatic, though CVT takes some getting used to. It doesn't "feel" like a regular automatic. And it's kind of weird watching your speed increase as the RPM's decrease.
The A/C works well and the heater gets the interior PLENTY warm set at about "medium" and the fan on 3 (out of 9 clicks).
I'm gonna have this thing till it won't go anymore. My only concern is repair costs on the CVT in the future. I've heard it isn't cheap.
That aside, I can't really think of any improvements. Then again, I didn't "settle" for a vehicle either. When it was time to shop for a new vehicle, I asked myself what I NEEDED in a vehicle, as opposed to what I WANTED from a vehicle. No matter how tempted I was by my "wants" as the process went along, I forced myself to stick to the "needs" list I made up at the very beginning. I looked at various vehicles, took test drives, crunched numbers. And the Jeep Patriot Sport with the 2.0L engine, CVT, A/C, and manual windows and locks fit my needs perfectly.