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.
We've also griped about the Patriot's acceleration in past years, and Jeep has addressed this issue for 2014: Most Jeep Patriots can now be equipped with a new six-speed automatic transmission. It's certainly an upgrade over the previous continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is still used on Patriots equipped with certain option packages, but it isn't exactly a giant leap forward. Acceleration is better on Patriots with the six-speed automatic, but this Jeep still feels slow compared with rivals. Along with that comes a noisy cabin environment (mainly due to engine drone and tire noise) and a relatively unrefined ride for this class.
If you're shopping for a small crossover SUV, the 2014 Ford Escape and 2014 Kia Sportage are worth considering as alternatives to the 2014 Jeep Patriot. Both have roomier interiors with high-quality materials, along with better all-around performance. If light off-road ability is on your priority list, we'd recommend the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek or the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, although they are more expensive. If the Patriot's low price is the main draw for you, the 2014 Nissan Rogue Select (the renamed old-generation version of the Rogue) doesn't cost much more and it's a much better overall package. In the end, the Patriot succeeds at providing basic transportation, but most buyers will find more value in rival crossovers.
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. The Altitude Edition package adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a body-color rear bumper and roof rails. Air-conditioning and 17-inch wheels are also available as stand-alone options for the Sport.
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. For the Latitude, the available High Altitude Edition package adds leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat (plus manual lumbar adjustment) and a sunroof.
The Limited includes the High Altitude's equipment (minus the sunroof) and adds automatic climate control, rear disc brakes (versus rear drum brakes), upgraded exterior trim and 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 front-wheel drive, the 2014 Jeep Patriot Sport and Latitude come standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 158 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque. Three transmissions are offered. A five-speed manual is standard while a CVT and a six-speed automatic are optional. The optional Altitude and High Altitude packages require that you select the available CVT.
The EPA's estimated fuel economy with front-wheel drive and the six-speed automatic is 24 mpg combined (21 city/28 highway), which is disappointing given the 2.0-liter engine's lack of power. The CVT is nearly the same with an EPA-estimated 24 mpg combined (22/27) but the manual version does slightly better with a rating of 26 mpg combined (23/30).
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 (which Jeep calls four-wheel drive) and all Patriot Limited models. As with the smaller engine, you can choose between the five-speed manual, a six-speed automatic and a CVT. The optional Freedom-Drive II Group provides a more serious four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing and hill descent control; It also requires you to select the CVT.
EPA-estimated fuel economy with the 2.4-liter engine, front-wheel drive and the automatic is 24 mpg combined (21 city/28 highway). With the five-speed manual it's an estimated 25 mpg combined (23/28). When you add AWD to the equation, the Patriot is rated at 23 combined (21/27) with the six-speed automatic, 25 mpg combined (23/28) with the manual and a rather dismal 21 combined (20/23) with the CVT.
In Edmunds performance testing, an AWD Jeep Patriot with the six-speed automatic transmission went from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds, average for the class. However, a Patriot with the Freedom-Drive II 4WD system and the CVT needed a lengthy 10.3 seconds to reach 60 mph, a very slow time for a 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, the Patriot came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet, an average distance 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 moderate overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. However, this compact Jeep received the lowest possible rating of "Poor" in the small overlap frontal-offset test. The Patriot's seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
At first glance, the Jeep 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. On the other hand, the front seats are pretty comfortable, with soft, grippy seat cloth in the Latitude and adequate support on longer drives. The rear seats recline, but legroom is tight in the Patriot's backseat.
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, there's less cargo capacity than in most other small crossover SUVs. The Escape offers 68.1 cubic feet of capacity, while the Honda CR-V has more than 70 cubic feet of cargo volume.
Regardless of engine choice, the Patriot isn't fast or particularly enjoyable to drive. The new six-speed automatic transmission improves performance on Patriots with the 2.4-liter engine, but this compact Jeep still feels rather underpowered in normal driving in spite of its class-average 0-60-mph time. The engine makes its best power at higher revs, so the automatic's frequent (and often slow) shifts can be bothersome when you're passing at highway speeds or merely trying to maintain speed on uphill grades. Still, this setup is preferable to pairing the 2.4-liter engine with the CVT. Equipping the Jeep with the CVT results in downright sluggish acceleration and forces you to plan well ahead for passing maneuvers.
Making matters worse is the excessive noise in the cabin. Wind and tire noise are considerable, and combined with the engine drone, they'll have you reaching for the radio volume knob to drown out the racket. Ride quality is another weak spot, as the Patriot's suspension struggles to cope with bumps and ruts, resulting in a harsh ride over most pavement. This lack of composure also detracts from the Jeep's handling abilities when you're going around turns.