By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 9/7/2012
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.You'll Like This Car 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.
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.
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.Favorite Features
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.