The 2016 Patriot stakes its claim as being the least expensive new SUV you can buy, and a Jeep to boot. That's the appeal of this 2-row, 5-passenger sport-utility vehicle. But in just about every other aspect, Jeep's aging entry-level model lags rival compact-crossover SUVs such as the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester.
You'll Like The 2016 Jeep Patriot If...
If you're tight on money but yearn for a new Jeep, the Patriot can be your ticket into 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 2016 Jeep Patriot If...
As one of the oldest vehicles in Jeep's lineup, the Patriot lacks the refinement, freshness and advanced safety features of just about every rival. And while it wears the Jeep name, the Patriot is based on front-wheel-drive (FWD) architecture and isn't built to hop boulders like a Wrangler.
The 2016 Patriot drops the top-line Limited trim, leaving just the base Sport model and better-equipped Latitude. Bluetooth phone connectivity finally becomes standard, and the new Sport SE package bundles more popular features. An all-new Jeep model is set to replace both the aging Patriot and Compass SUVs.
The 2016 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 are fitted to models equipped with the Freedom Drive II off-road package. Base Sport models ride on 16-inch steel wheels, while the Patriot Latitude version comes with 17-inch aluminum versions.
Jeeps have a long history of favoring off-road capability over on-road comfort. Most models of the Patriot, though, don't stand out in either setting. Yes, you can get a Patriot that is Trail-Rated to slog through mud, snow and up to 19 inches of water, but to do so you must option up to the Freedom Drive II package. On the asphalt where most Patriots will roam, Jeep's least expensive SUV is simply outclassed by newer rivals that offer better performance, handling, ride quality and fuel economy. Neither of the Patriot's available 4-cylinder engines feels very strong, and the CVT transmission does more for fuel economy than it does for performance, although the optional 6-speed automatic improves 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 2016 Jeep Patriot has an alluring Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $18,000, making it the least expensive new SUV, but you'll have to forgo such comforts as power windows and air conditioning. Better-equipped versions run in the $20,000 range, and a Latitude model with the High Altitude package can bump $30,000. At these prices, most Patriot models still undercut the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape and Subaru Forester, but 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 Patriot lags competitors.
We'll say it again: The Patriot's base price 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 and, new for this year, hands-free phone connectivity and SiriusXM satellite radio. 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, keyless entry and automatic headlights.
Both trims of the Jeep Patriot can be had with either of the Freedom Drive 4WD systems. On the Sport model, you can get power windows and creature comforts like air conditioning. The new Sport SE package bundles a leather-trimmed steering wheel with built-in audio controls, heated front seats and 17-inch wheels. Latitude models can be had with infotainment and navigation systems with a 6.5-inch touch screen, while the High Altitude package bundles the leather interior, power-adjustable driver's seat and sunroof. New for 2016 is an optional rearview camera, a feature that's standard in rivals like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
FREEDOM DRIVE I
For 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 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 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
For 2016 Jeep Patriots offer two 4-cylinder engines and a trio of transmissions. The base engine is a 2.0-liter that's for front-wheel-drive (FWD) models only. A more powerful 2.4-liter engine is optional on either model and is necessary if you want 4WD. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard for both engines. The automatic transmission offerings are a 6-speed (now only with the 2.4-liter engine) or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). 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. The Patriot's towing capacity maxes out at 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.
158 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
141 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 mpg (FWD, manual), 22/26 mpg (FWD, CVT)
172 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
165 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/29 mpg (FWD, manual), 21/28 mpg (FWD, automatic), 22/27 mpg (4WD, manual), 20/26 mpg (4WD, automatic), 20/23 mpg (4WD, CVT w/Off-Road package)
The 2016 Patriot stakes its claim as being the least expensive new SUV you can buy, and a Jeep to boot. That's the appeal of this 2-row, 5-passenger sport-utility vehicle. But in just about every other aspect, Jeep's aging entry-level model lags rival compact-crossover SUVs. The Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester and even its own siblings, the smaller Jeep Renegade and larger Cherokee, are more refined and far fresher than the Patriot. No doubt the 2016 Patriot's roughly $18,000 starting price is enticing, but base models are so basic they lack air conditioning and even power windows as standard. While the Patriot can be equipped with 4-wheel drive for off-road capability, the higher cost of doing so erodes this model's value proposition.