Would you believe you can drive a sport utility vehicle 400 miles on a single tank of gas? Most people certainly wouldn’t! Well, you can, if you happen to be behind the wheel of the 2014 Jeep Patriot SUV! Powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, Patriot offers 158 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque while returning an unbelievable 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. It combines with a new six-speed automatic this year, which is a good thing considering the CVT in its predecessor got so many complaints. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder is also available with the same transmission to boost performance slightly to 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. Surprisingly, this small fuel-efficient engine can tow 2,000 pounds, and gas mileage is still fantastic at 22 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Don’t expect much in the way of acceleration though; this is one of the slowest crossovers on the market. If you need a vehicle that can tackle just a little light off-road action, Patriot should do just fine; just don’t expect it to compete with its Grand Cherokee big brother. The turning circle is a very petite 35.6 feet, so you should be able to park this vehicle as easily as you do a sedan. Handling and steering is decent, but noise from the road and wind makes the cabin quite loud.
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• Uconnect® - The Uconnect® system with Garmin® navigation will help you find your way with brilliantly-colored maps, turn-by-turn navigation and even lane guidance.
• Audio - The base audio is pretty pathetic with only four speakers, but it does come with an in-dash CD player and auxiliary audio jack. However, there is a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics system available that comes with satellite radio and two drop-down lift gate speakers. It also gets a touchscreen audio interface, digital music storage and USB audio jack.
• Bluetooth - With Bluetooth, you can send, end and receive calls without taking your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road.
Patriot was labeled a Top Safety Pick of 2012, but it somewhat surprising that it achieved this status. It receives the top safety scores in front and roof-strength tests, but ratings for side-impact are quite poor, unless you add the optional side airbags. It also scores quite poorly in braking tests, taking a very long 143 feet to stop from 60 mph. This is 20 feet longer than average! Safety features worth mentioning include:
• Post collision safety system
• Tire pressure monitoring
• Electronic brakeforce distribution
• Stability control
• Traction control
• Rear door safety locks
• Emergency brakeforce distribution
• Engine immobilizer
• Child seat anchors
Patriot gets the same seven-slot grille that makes it easy identifiable as a Jeep. Still, many people wish Jeep would do something to spruce up the styling; it is about as simple as it can get. It’s simply a rectangle on wheels. About the only highlight to be found are the roof rails, but the 17-inch wheels do manage to add a rugged appeal to the vehicle.
Although the design of the interior is satisfactory, there is a lot of hard plastic used. Then again, at such a low price, it is really hard to complain. The layout is simple, controls are user-friendly and gauges are easy to read. There is an optional flip-down speaker that will come in handy whether you are tailgating or camping. As far as seating goes, Jeep says Patriot has a spacious cabin, but don’t let them fool you. The front seats are comfortable and roomy, but legroom in the rear is nearly nonexistent.
Cargo space won’t blow you away, but there is plenty of space for most. Behind the rear seat, there is 23 cubic feet, but behind the front seat there are only 53.5 cubes.