Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
The 2015 Patriot is the least expensive new SUV you can buy, and it’s a Jeep to boot with decent off-road capability when properly equipped. But beyond those traits, the aging Patriot lags fresher and more refined rivals in the 5-passenger compact SUV segment.
You'll Like The 2015 Jeep Patriot If...
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend but want to say you drive a new Jeep, the Patriot could be your entry to the brand. Drivers requiring enhanced traction for foul weather or Jeep’s Trail-Rated off-road ability can choose between two 4-wheel-drive (4WD) systems for the Patriot.
You May Not Like The 2015 Jeep Patriot If...
Jeep’s compact SUV lacks the refinement and freshness of just about every rival, not to mention its newly reinvented older brother, the Jeep Cherokee, and its forthcoming little brother, the Renegade. And while it wears the Jeep name, the Patriot is based on front-wheel-drive architecture and isn’t made to hop boulders like a Wrangler.
The Jeep Patriot trudges on for 2015 with a new paint color (Eco Green Clear Coat) that replaces Rugged Brown and with Garmin Navigation now available on the Latitude model. The formerly available cargo-area lamp that doubled as a removable flashlight has been replaced by a dome light.
The 2015 Jeep Patriot features a 2-row, 5-passenger interior. Depending on trim level and options, it ranges from simple and utilitarian with hard plastic surfaces to nicely equipped with leather seats and a 6.5-inch touch-screen navigation and entertainment system. In base models you’ll have to pay extra for a driver’s seat that adjusts for height, and no Patriot model comes with a steering wheel that telescopes, making it more difficult to find a perfect driving position. The rear seats do fold nearly flat for extra cargo capacity, and in all but the base model also recline.
Few will mistake the Patriot with its 4-door Wrangler Unlimited sibling, but at least the family resemblance is there. Like its beefier brother, the Patriot has a boxy shape, Jeep’s traditional front grille with seven vertical slots and signature round headlights. Standard roof rails add to the Patriot’s presence and practicality. For added toughness, skidplates and tow hooks come on models equipped with the Freedom Drive II off-road package.
Jeeps have long been regarded more for their off-road capability than on-road comfort. Most models of the Patriot, though, don’t stand out in either setting. While it’s true you can get a Patriot that is Trail-Rated to get through mud, snow and up to 19 inches of water, one must option up to the Freedom Drive II package in order to do so. On the asphalt where most Patriots will roam, Jeep’s least expensive SUV is simply outclassed by newer rivals that offer better performance, handling and ride quality. Neither of the Patriot’s 4-cylinder engines feels very strong, and the CVT transmission does more for fuel economy than it does for performance, although the 6-speed automatic helps improve the latter. 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 2015 Jeep Patriot has an alluring Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting under $17,500. That makes the Patriot the least expensive new SUV, but you’ll have to compromise on creature comforts such as power windows and air conditioning. Better-equipped versions run in the $20,000 range, and a top-line Limited with options can top $31,000. At these prices, most models of the Patriot still undercut the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape and Subaru Forester, but all of those rivals are newer and generally more appealing. Still, there’s no denying that the Patriot is an inexpensive SUV to buy and own, and it’s just coming off a win for the Kelley Blue Book 5-Year Cost to Own Award in the Compact SUV/Crossover category. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Jeep Patriot. Long-term residual value is another aspect in which the 2015 Patriot lags competitors.
As we’ve noted, the Patriot’s base price in Sport trim is tempting, but it buys only a budget vehicle in the strictest sense. You’ll have to crank your own windows, lock the doors manually and even forgo air conditioning. What you will get is a 5-speed manual transmission, cruise control and 4-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with auxiliary input. A better bet is to step up to the Latitude model, which includes the basic creature comforts omitted in the Sport trim, plus heated front seats, power outlet and keyless entry. Top-line Limited models add leather-trimmed seats, automatic climate control, power driver’s seat, a larger engine and upgraded audio system.
Both Freedom Drive 4WD systems are available on all three grades of the Jeep Patriot, while other options vary by trim. If you want to spend the least but save your arms, you can get power windows and other creature comforts like air conditioning and Bluetooth phone connectivity on base Sport models. Latitude and Limited models can get infotainment and navigation systems with a 6.5-inch touch screen, while the top-line model can also be had with a Boston Acoustics premium sound system that has nine speakers – including two that flip down from the tailgate. Unlike competitors, the Patriot does not offer a rearview camera.
FREEDOM DRIVE IFor those facing seasonal road conditions, Freedom Drive I provides a full-time 4-wheel-drive system designed to give year-round peace of mind. You won’t be tackling the Rubicon Trail with Freedom Drive I, but you could tow your ATV to where the trail starts.FREEDOM DRIVE II OFF-ROAD PACKAGEFor those preferring the road less traveled – or no road at all – Jeep offers the optional Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package. It includes a 2nd-generation CVT transaxle with low range, 17-inch all-terrain tires and an abundance of skidplates, tow hooks and fog lights.
Under the Hood
The 2015 Jeep Patriot is available with a choice of two 4-cylinder engines and a trio of transmissions. Front-wheel-drive (FWD) versions of the Sport and Latitude models use the smaller 2.0-liter engine, while top-line Limited trims and all 4WD models use the larger 2.4-liter. The automatic transmission offerings are a 6-speed or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Four-wheel-drive models with the Freedom Drive II off-road system use the CVT that has a 19:1 crawl ratio for slowly navigating touchy off-road conditions. Owners needing to tow can opt for a prep package by Mopar that includes a Class II hitch to pull up to 2,000 pounds. The Patriot isn’t all that fuel-efficient – especially with the Freedom Drive II package – but at least it uses regular unleaded gasoline.2.0-liter inline-4158 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm141 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 mpg (FWD, manual), 21/28 mpg (FWD, automatic), 22/27 mpg (CVT)2.4-liter inline-4172 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm165 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/28 mpg (FWD, manual), 21/28 mpg (FWD, automatic), 23/28 mpg (4WD, manual), 21/27 mpg (4WD, automatic), 20/23 mpg (4WD, CVT w/Off-Road package)
The 2015 Patriot is the least expensive new SUV you can buy, and it’s a Jeep to boot. That’s the good news. Other aspects of this inexpensive 5-passenger Jeep are not so bright. It is aging, rather unrefined and not all that fuel-efficient compared to fresher crossover SUVs such as the Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5. And while its starting price is tempting, be advised that a base 2015 Patriot wearing that sub-$18,000 tag lacks air conditioning, adjustable driver’s-seat height and even power windows and power door locks. To get those features you’ll have to pay extra, which diminishes the Patriot’s value proposition. If there’s any redemption, it’s that a properly equipped Patriot with 4-wheel drive (4WD) offers decent off-road ability.