The Jeep Patriot has never made our list of 10 Best Compact SUVs, but it's a repeat winner in our annual 5-Year Cost to Own Awards for a couple reasons. First, it's dirt cheap; opt for the front-wheel drive Sport 4x2 and you can get out the door for right around $16,000, making it the least expensive Jeep you can buy. Second, it benefits from Jeep's excellent resale value, which helps keep its depreciation costs low. Put them together, and you have a vehicle with best-in-class 5-year cost to own.
And it's not as if the little Jeep is without its charms. Its classic two-box shape is evocative of the compact Jeep Cherokee from the 1980s, and not by accident. An interior update a few years ago improved the driving environment, and around town the Patriot's small size and nimble driving characteristics make it easy to live with.
In addition, the Jeep Patriot is one of the only vehicles in its class that's actually capable off road, thanks to the Freedom Drive II option package. Combined with a continuously variable automatic transmission with an off-road crawl mode, Freedom Drive II gives the Jeep Patriot surprisingly good off-road chops.
So even if the Patriot is noisier inside than its competitors — an unsophisticated CVT tends to let the engine rev to redline, making matters worse — and shorter on overall refinement, its overall cost to own is hard to beat and the unique appeal of the Jeep brand remains strong.
The Subaru XV Crosstrek combines the rugged styling cues of Subaru's Outback line of wagons with the Impreza compact hatchback. This year, it's also available in a hybrid version.
The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is one of the best looking small SUVs on the market, and won't eat you out of house and home on your day to day costs.