2015 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4X4Posted on August 14th, 2015
Affordable off-road fun for growing families
By Nina Russin
The Jeep Patriot is for growing families what the Renegade is for urbanites: an affordable path to the road less traveled. Seating up to five passengers with a versatile cargo area that holds soup-to-nuts, the trail-rated Patriot Latitude 4X4 starts at $24,795 excluding the $995 destination charge.
The Patriot is available with two four-wheel drive systems, of which one, the Freedom Drive II has a low gear range and carries the Jeep trail rating. New for 2015 is a High Altitude appearance package that adds leather seating, 17-inch alloy rims, power sunroof and manual lumbar adjustment.
Other options on the test car include a digital information display in the gauge cluster, roof rail crossbars, tonneau cover, premium audio system with satellite radio, Uconnect infotainment center with voice command and Bluetooth interface and remote start. Final MSRP is $29,510.
Test drive in Phoenix
Over the past week I had the opportunity to drive the Patriot on surface streets, highways and the occasional unimproved road in the Phoenix, Arizona area. While it was not in the plans, I also drove the Patriot through a microburst that made that evening’s news. Through all of this the Patriot proved a safe, solid driving companion that lives up to its claims of trail rating.
While the Patriot doesn’t look or feel as plush as some similarly priced midsize crossovers, it can take buyers with active lifestyles to places those other vehicles cannot. In order to earn Jeep’s trail rating badge, the Patriot had to meet certain standards for traction, water fording depth and wheel articulation. Standard features such as skid plates to protect the chassis in rocky areas, hill start assist, a 19:1 crawl ratio and a full-size spare tire are important for buyers who like to spend their weekends off the grid.
The Latitude model sits in the middle of the trim lineup between the base Sport and upscale Limited. It features the larger 2.4-liter engine as opposed to the 2.0-liter engine on the Sport, as well as the types of convenience features most buyers prioritize: air conditioning, power windows, door locks and side mirrors, keyless entry, split folding second-row seats and a 115-volt inverter.
The 2.4-liter engine is a little anemic on the highway. One hundred seventy-two horsepower isn’t a lot for a high-profile four-wheel drive truck, and peak torque of 165 foot-pounds doesn’t come on until 4400 rpm: a deep dip of the throttle. The engine takes time to accelerate up to speed and pass slower vehicles. But it can get the job done. A six-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection is part of an option package, replacing the continuously variable automatic that normally comes with the Freedom Drive II 4X4 system.
A tilt steering column enables smaller drivers to maintain a clear forward view. I would have liked a telescoping feature as well since my legs are disproportionately long compared to my arms.
A generous greenhouse makes for good visibility around the perimeter. I had no problems monitoring traffic in adjacent lanes on the highway, and blind spots in the rear corners are relatively small.
In the middle of a drive up to Scottsdale I intersected a seasonal monsoon that included a microburst with high winds. Visibility brought traffic to a crawl as standing water accumulated on the highway.
It was a good day to be driving a Jeep: a vehicle engineered for this type of weather event. I had no problems with traction on the roads and made it to my destination safely.
The Patriot interior was at one time the subject of some criticism for its lack of refinement. Product planners have addressed that problem over the past few years, improving fit and finish and using more soft touch materials in key areas such as the armrest and instrument panel. With the exception of the steering wheel position, I found the interior very comfortable. The driver’s seat has plenty of lower lumbar support. Both the gauge cluster and center stack display are easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark.
Because of cupholders on the floor, two persons fit better into the second row than three. Second-row seats are slightly elevated to give passengers in back a clear forward view. The seats fold flat n a 60/40 pattern to extend the cargo floor for bicycles and other long items.
The Jeep Patriot comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, electronic roll mitigation, hill start assist and tire pressure monitoring. Hill descent control is standard with the Freedom Off-Road II package. The technology uses antilock braking to maintain a preset speed when the vehicle is descending a steep grade to help the driver maintain directional control.
Jeep builds the Patriot at its Belvedere, Illinois assembly plant.
Like: A truly off-road capable sport-utility vehicle for room for four adult passengers with value pricing gives growing families an affordable option for going off the grid.
Dislike: Steering wheel doesn’t telescope. Engine feels anemic at higher speeds.
Model: Patriot Latitude 4X4
Base price: $24,795
As tested: $29,510
Horsepower: 172 Hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 165 lbs.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 21/27 mpg city/highway2015, Best Value Offroad 2015, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Jeep, performance, pricing, standard safety