To offer a whiff of Jeep ethos at a cut-rate price, Chrysler created the Jeep Patriot by clothing the platform and running gear of an inexpensive compact car (the Dodge Caliber) in Jeep-proportioned sheet metal. Six years on, the 2013 Jeep Patriot is likely the lowest-priced SUV on the market, a vehicle for modest budgets and modest expectations.
You'll Like The 2013 Jeep Patriot If...
If you need 4-wheel drive, either because of snowy winter roads or regular off-road excursions, and that really is all you need, the Jeep Patriot offers decent value. Or if you want to dabble in the Jeep lifestyle at a minimal cost of entry, this could be your ticket.
You May Not Like The 2013 Jeep Patriot If...
If your ideal Jeep provides real off-road capability and long-lived durability, buy a Wrangler. Based on Chrysler's Dodge Caliber platform, the Patriot is far closer to its econobox roots than to anything coming from Jeep's main plant in Toledo.
This close to the end of the platform's life cycle, there is little investment going into upgrades. For 2013, some software recalibrations give the Jeep Patriot a slight boost in fuel efficiency and a couple of new colors join the paint palette. Sport, Latitude and Limited are the trim packages.
Hard plastic surfaces aren't the most inviting but they are easy to clean, which is one benefit of the Patriot's utilitarian cabin. Still, there are some nice techy features to enjoy (a Uconnect media center with iPod interface, SiriusXM satellite radio and navigation with Sirius Travel Link) and a couple of truly clever ideas, such as the cargo-area lamp that pops out to become a rechargeable LED flashlight and the speakers that flip down from the raised liftgate to energize those tailgate parties.
Jeep's design team did an admirable job of sculpting traditional Jeep proportions onto economy-car, front-drive architecture. Requisite Jeep-family features show up, including the seven-slot grille and "can-do" fender flares. The Patriot's upright layout provides reasonable outward visibility as well as some visual character.
You can't deny your roots, and neither can the Jeep Patriot. The Dodge Caliber econocar platform probably made sense for a low-priced, light-duty Jeep in 2007, but this class is too competitive for that formula to still work. The Patriot can hold its own in modest off-roading when equipped with the Freedom Drive II package, but almost all drivers spend the vast majority of their time on public pavement, and there the Patriot is simply outclassed. Neither of the 4-cylinder engines feels very strong, and the CVT transmission does more for fuel economy than it does for performance. Highway ride and handling are okay, as long as you don't compare the Patriot to a more refined small SUV – of which there are plenty. The all-new (probably Fiat-based) platform for the Patriot can't come too soon.
Jeep claims you won't find a lower-priced SUV than the 2WD Sport Patriot, at just under $17,000, nor a lower-priced 4x4 than the 4WD Sport, at just under $19,000. At the top end, the 4WD Limited starts at around $26,500. Given the car's econobox roots, you may feel hard-pressed to justify any of those prices. For a little more money (Kia Sportage, under $20,000; Subaru Forester, just over $23,000), legions of more modern choices open up, albeit without some of the Jeep's special equipment. But if your budget says no to that stretch, then the Patriot may be in play. Plus, a car at the end of its production cycle will likely carry generous incentives. To make your best deal, check our Fair Purchase Price, which reflects real-world transaction prices being paid in your area. And be ready for rapid depreciation; the Patriot's retained value will be well below those of Asian nameplates.
Despite its very affordable starting price of under $17,000, Jeep's 2013 Patriot Sport is well equipped. Standard features include electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, Hill-Start Assist, ABS, audio jack, fold-flat rear seats, deep tinted glass and roof side rails. Standard power is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine connected to a 5-speed manual transmission.
You want options? Jeep has supplied them, mostly in the form of upgrades in trim level or package selection. The move from Sport to Latitude adds air conditioning, power windows and door locks, 17-inch aluminum wheels, remote start, front heated cloth seats, body-color exterior door handles and leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and speed controls. Opt for the top-line Limited and you'll enjoy the larger 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, leather seating, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and Jeep's Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC).
FREEDOM DRIVE I (ON-ROAD PACKAGE)
For those facing seasonal road conditions, Freedom Drive I provides a full-time 4WD system designed to give year-round peace-of-mind. You won't be tackling the Rubicon with Freedom Drive I, but you could tow your ATV to where the trail starts.
FREEDOM DRIVE II OFF-ROAD PACKAGE
For those preferring the road less traveled – or no road at all – Jeep offers the optional Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package. It includes a second-generation CVT transaxle with low range, 17-inch all-terrain tires and an abundance of skid plates, tow hooks and fog lights.
Under the Hood
Within its three trim levels reside two engine choices (2.0- and 2.4-liter fours) and three transmissions (5-speed manual and two CVT automatics, one with low range). The 158-horsepower 2.0-liter is standard on 2WD Sport and 2WD Latitude, while the 172-horsepower 2.4-liter is fitted to 4WD Sport, 4WD Latitude and all Limiteds. Patriots with the Freedom Drive II Off-Road package get the CVT2L transmission, which incorporates a low range for slow-crawling off road.
158 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
141 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 mpg (2WD, manual), 22/28 mpg (2WD, automatic)
172 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
165 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/28 mpg (2WD, manual), 21/27 mpg (2WD, automatic), 22/28 (4WD, manual), 21/26 mpg (4WD, automatic), 20/23 mpg (4WD, automatic w/ Off-Road package)
It made sense at the time: Offer a whiff of that rugged Jeep ethos at a cut-rate price. The original Jeep Patriot was created in 2007. To be fair, effort did go into providing a degree of off-road capability, but it was built on an economy-car foundation, which tells you most of what you need to know about the 2013 Jeep Patriot. If your budget and your expectations – especially for comfort, performance and refinement – are modest enough, this is about the lowest-priced SUV on the market. Its much-needed replacement arrives in a year or so.