Full 2014 Jeep Patriot Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Jeep Patriot receives a newly optional six-speed automatic transmission. Front-side airbags are now standard rather than optional.
The 2014 Jeep Patriot is on a simple mission: It provides the iconic, rugged look of a traditional Jeep along with decent off-roading ability. Jeep has also aggressively priced the Patriot so that it's one of the least expensive crossover SUVs on the market. That's an appealing combination, but the devil is in the details.
It's true that the Patriot, at least in its base Sport trim level, has a lower as-new price than any other crossover SUV. But that Sport trim goes without a lot of desirable standard features, such as air-conditioning, power locks and power windows. When adding features like those back in, the Patriot's price becomes similar to those of a much more desirable group of competitors.
In terms of off-road capability, you aren't getting much bang for your buck with the 2014 Jeep Patriot either. It's really only capable when it's been fitted with extra-cost features that enhance its ability to climb over obstacles. If you never go off-road, you might not care, but the Patriot also has some significant issues that detract from its desirability in daily use. Cargo capacity is the biggie, as the Patriot offers just 53.5 cubic feet with its rear seats folded, and that's a very small number for this class. Interior materials quality is nothing to write home about either.
In past years, we also griped about the Patriot's acceleration, but Jeep has addressed this issue for 2014: Most Jeep Patriots can now be equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. This should be an upgrade over the underwhelming continuously variable transmission (CVT) that was previously mandatory. We have yet to test a 2014 Jeep Patriot with the six-speed automatic, but we'll update this review when we do.
In the meantime, if you're shopping for a small crossover SUV, the Ford Escape and Kia Sportage are worth considering as alternatives to the Patriot. Both have roomier interiors with high-quality materials, along with better all-around performance. The Subaru XV Crosstrek and Nissan Juke also compare well, and if you want true off-road ability, we'd point you to the Nissan Xterra, the Toyota FJ Cruiser or even Jeep's own Wrangler, even though they are more expensive.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Jeep Patriot is a compact crossover SUV that seats five people. It is available in Sport, Latitude and Limited trim levels.
The base Sport level is sparsely equipped with standard 16-inch steel wheels, roof rails, foglights, cruise control, cloth upholstery, a tilt-only steering wheel, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The optional Power Value Group adds full power accessories, heated mirrors, keyless entry and additional body-color exterior pieces. Air-conditioning and 17-inch alloy wheels are also optional.
The Latitude gets the above features as standard, plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, heated front seats, a fold-flat front passenger seat and steering-wheel audio controls.
The Limited adds automatic climate control, rear disc brakes (versus rear drum brakes), upgraded exterior trim, leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat (plus manual lumbar adjustment), a six-CD changer and a trip computer.
The Latitude and Limited are eligible for several option packages. The Sun and Sound Group adds a sunroof and a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system (with two drop-down liftgate speakers) and satellite radio. The Security and Cargo Convenience Group adds adjustable roof rail crossbars, remote ignition, a tire pressure monitor display, a cargo cover, Bluetooth, a USB audio jack and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A 6.5-inch touchscreen audio interface that includes digital music storage is also available, and on Limited models, it can be equipped with a navigation system as well.
All-wheel-drive models, regardless of trim, can be equipped with the Freedom-Drive II Off-Road Group. This includes an enhanced four-wheel-drive system, all-terrain tires, a full-size spare tire, hill descent control, tow hooks, skid plates and, on the Sport, a height-adjustable driver seat.
Powertrains and Performance
When equipped with standard front-wheel drive, the 2014 Jeep Patriot Sport and Latitude are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 158 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional.
EPA-estimated fuel economy with front-wheel drive and the six-speed automatic is 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined, which is disappointing given the Patriot's lack of power. The manual version does slightly better with mpg ratings of 23/28/25.
Optional on the front-drive Sport and Latitude is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 172 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque. This engine is standard on all-wheel-drive models and all Patriot Limited models. You can choose between the five-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmission. The optional Freedom-Drive II Group provides a more serious four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing and hill descent control, but requires that you also select the available continuously variable transmission (CVT).
EPA-estimated fuel economy with the 2.4-liter engine, the five-speed manual and all-wheel drive stands at 23/28/25. Picking the automatic drops these numbers to 21/27/23. With the CVT, fuel economy is quite poor at 20/23/21.
In Edmunds performance testing, a Patriot Limited with Freedom-Drive II and the CVT needed a lengthy 10.3 seconds to go from zero to 60 mph: one of the slowest times of any small crossover SUV.
The 2014 Jeep Patriot comes standard with antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum), traction and stability control, and full-length side curtain airbags. The Limited gets rear disc brakes. Front side airbags were optional last year but are now standard across all Patriot trim levels.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Patriot Limited performed poorly, as it came to a stop from 60 mph in 143 feet -- about 20 feet longer than average for this class.
In government crash testing, last year's Patriot earned an overall rating of four out of five stars, with three stars for total frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Patriot the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact (with the side airbags) and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
At first glance, the Patriot's interior looks nice enough, if a little utilitarian. On closer examination, however, the quality is disappointing due to extensive use of cheap, hard plastics. The base Sport's lack of standard power accessories and air-conditioning makes it feel especially bare-bones. 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 are at least in keeping with Jeep's off-road heritage, though the available touchscreen electronics interface is antiquated, as it lags behind competitors' systems in both ease of use and smartphone-integration features. There are a couple of clever features such as the cargo area lamp that pops out to become a rechargeable LED flashlight and the optional Boston Acoustics speakers that flip down from the raised liftgate to provide tunes for your next tailgate party.
You'd better not plan to bring a lot to that party, though. With just 23 cubic feet of space behind the 60/40-split rear seats and 53.5 cubic feet with both sections folded down, the cargo area is significantly smaller than that of most crossover SUV competitors, save for the Sportage. The Escape offers 68.1 cubic feet of capacity, while the Honda CR-V has more than 70 cubic feet of cargo volume.
We haven't tested the 2014 Jeep Patriot with the new six-speed automatic transmission. When we do, we'll update this review.
If you equip your Patriot with the off-road group equipment, it will still come with the CVT. This is not among our favorite transmissions, as acceleration is sluggish in normal driving situations. You'll need to plan well ahead for highway passing maneuvers. What's more, the excessive engine noise in the CVT-equipped Patriot we tested had us reaching for the radio volume to drown out the racket. Ride quality is also an issue in the Patriot, as it's less comfortable than most competitors in this class.