By on August 22, 2016

Jeep Patriot, Image: © 2016 Matt Pericles/The Truth About Cars

Editor’s Note: Please welcome Matt Pericles, a.k.a. FormerFF, as the first reader featured during TTAC’s Reader Submission week. We’ll post more submissions throughout the week. Stay tuned!

Consider the Jeep Patriot, whipping boy of automotive journalists everywhere, number 18 out of 18 in U.S. News’s “Best Compact SUVs” list.

Does it deserve such scorn?

How did I wind up with one of America’s lowest rated vehicles on my driveway?

Not too long ago, I was shopping for a late-model used car for my daughters to drive. In my mind, the right car for a teenaged girl is a compact sedan. But I am not a teenaged girl. To my dismay, I found that Crossover Madness had infected my household, claiming both of my daughters and my wife, so a-crossover shopping we went.

As you can imagine, getting two teenagers plus one mom to agree on a car is not the easiest of tasks.

Daughter Two, who is still a year away from getting her learner’s permit, was leaning toward the Escape, but she wasn’t that interested in making a choice. My wife had developed a thing for Subarus, but prices of the all-wheel-drive machines weren’t very favorable, and my youngest said, “No teenaged girl wants a Subaru.” Daughter One, only two months away from her license, saw a CR-V online, which she liked and wanted to check out, necessitating a stop at the local Honda dealer. Once at the Honda store, she rather quickly decided she didn’t like the CR-V, and I can’t say I blame her. While it’s a very nice vehicle, it’s also more of a mom-mobile than a righteous teen ride

Down the street we went to CarMax to see what it had. As it turns out, CarMax has pretty much everything, and we sat in everything.

Daughter One gravitated to the Patriot much to my dismay. I’ve read the reviews, and I know they say it’s not good. It’s not a vehicle I’d have put on my list, but I felt I owed it to my daughter to give it a test drive, which we did. I was prepared to dislike it rather a lot. As you can probably guess, I didn’t dislike it at all. That’s how we wound up buying a Jeep Patriot.

Jeep Patriot, Image: © 2016 Matt Pericles/The Truth About Cars

I come not to bury the Patriot, but to praise it

Let’s start on the outside. The first thing I noticed was the Patriot’s size. At 173 inches in length, it’s 7 or so inches shorter than most of compact crossovers the motoring press compares it to, and 4 or 5 inches longer than the average subcompact crossover. It’s also a little shorter and a couple of inches narrower than most compacts, about the same width as the subcompacts. Part of the Patriot’s height comes from its 8 inches of ground clearance, which is on the upper side of the range for CUVs in this size range. It also looks like a Jeep, and nothing else. You could remove all the badging and the majority of drivers would be able to instantly identify it as a Jeep.

Jeep Patriot Interior, Image: © 2016 Matt Pericles/The Truth About Cars

Open the driver’s door and have a seat. The dash is austere, but well put together. The controls are straightforward and easy to use. The instrument panel consists of fuel, speedometer, tachometer, and coolant temperature gauges, in a simple, legible format. The front seats are comfortable and spacious. Ours are cloth, and the center part of the seat is made of a grippy material that keeps you in place. Headroom is generous, but the windshield is not overly large. It’s more upright and closer to the driver than most of the recent cars I’ve driven. Add all this together and you have a comfortable cockpit with a bit of a vintage car feel. Ours has an aftermarket stereo with a backup camera, so I can’t comment on the factory infotainment setup.

Step out and open one of the back doors. They’re not very wide in and of themselves, but they open wide to make ingress and egress easy. The back seat is as comfortable as the front — at least for two — and offers plenty of legroom. I wouldn’t recommend the middle back seat for long trips, but that’s true of any vehicle in this class. There’s also a reasonable amount of cargo space for a vehicle of this size, and if you’re carrying more stuff than people, the back seat has a split-folding feature.

Time to drive. Put the key in the slot, turn to the start position, and crank. The starter motor efforts ignition for as long as it needs to, which is not long, and the much-maligned World engine starts and immediately settles to a smooth idle. Grab the shifter, put the also much-maligned CVT in Drive, and get ready to go.

I say get ready to go, because it takes about a second for the transmission to engage once you’ve moved the shift lever, so keep your foot on the brake for a beat. Depressing the accelerator a little spins up the engine to 2,000 rpm quickly, and stays there during initial acceleration.

For a typical suburban drive where the travel speed is 35 to 45 mph, as you reach your cruising speed and back off of the throttle, the engine slows to 1,600 rpm or so, depending on load. Like most cars these days, the drivetrain is tuned for economy, and it takes a firm press of the pedal to get the Patriot to hurry. I’ve floored it exactly once. The engine spun up to 5,000 rpm quickly and pulled nicely once it got there.

The run up to 5,000 rpm took less time than would a conventional automatic to do its downshifting, particularly for one of the newer autoboxes with six or more gears.

There’s no particular drama from the engine bay during a full throttle run, but you will be treated to a bit of torque steer. The Patriot comes equipped with a somewhat large and thick rimmed steering wheel. The steering is a little less boosted that what you may be used to, and seems a bit slower than most other recent cars I’ve driven. Bend it into a turn and it responds pretty much as you’d expect, but a little extra turn of the wheel is needed to point you where you want to go. The steering isn’t particularly sharp or precise, but this is a Jeep, and slicing up apexes is not high on its list of priorities.

Out on the highway, the blocky shape and upright windshield combine to generate wind noise, but it’s not intrusive. You can also expect it to return a couple of miles per gallon less than one would with one of the more aerodynamic entries in this class.

It’s not for everyone. Could it be for you? Many years ago, I worked for a small-town new car dealership. One day, we took an elderly AMC Gremlin in on trade. The used car manager was looking it over, and I came up to him and remarked that I thought it would be a tough sell. The used car manager, who was never one to shy away from a challenge and also was never at a loss for words, looked me in the eye and said, “Son, there’s an ass for every seat.”

He did wind up selling that Gremlin, and I never again questioned if any used car would sell. Truly, there is an ass for every seat. So, whose buttocks should the Patriot’s roomy front seats cradle?

First and foremost, the Patriot is a Jeep, and an inexpensive one at that. It skews more towards utilitarian than luxurious, simplistic versus sophisticated. It’s not a capacious mom-mobile like the RAV4 or the Rogue, and isn’t urbane and sleek like the Escape or Hyundai/Kia offerings. Think of it as the good-natured country cousin of this family.

It exudes a fun, funky, outdoorsy vibe that seems to be irresistible to teenagers; it seems like half of the ones I know would like a Patriot. And you know what? It’s probably the ideal teenager car. It’s not fast in a straight line, it’s doesn’t encourage aggressive driving, and it’s not going to make a young driver want to go out and see how fast he can get around the local Dead Man’s Curve. In addition, I’d think there would be a lot of young singles and couples that would enjoy the Patriot. Our Patriot is what my eldest will take with her when she’d done with her schooling, and I can certainly picture her loading it up with two or three friends and heading for the beach. If you’re so inclined, the Patriot can be equipped for some fairly serious offroading at a realistic price.

I enjoy driving ours, I think it’s fun to drive, and I think it captures the intent of “Sport Utility” much better than nearly all of its competitors. There’s a certain honesty and playfulness about it that I don’t see in many cars these days, and its low purchase price doesn’t hurt. I like it, my daughters like it, and all of the other parents (and their teens) who I know that I’ve shown it to like it. It’s not for everyone, but what car is? As far as I’m concerned, the Patriot has gotten a bum rap from the motoring press. No, it’s not all that good of a CR-V, but it’s a pretty good Jeep Patriot.

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120 Comments on “In Defense Of: The Jeep Patriot...”


  • avatar
    mmreeses

    “Our Patriot is what my eldest will take with her when she’d done with her schooling”

    Patriot at 173″ and 8″ ground clearance. Sounds like a recipe for a higher probability of rollover under the right conditions.

    Make some time for a brief talk about dealing w/emergency manuevering/rollovers?

    Not meaning to be an armchair parent, i’m just someone who’s paranoid about long-tail risk. but I don’t stock 10 weeks worth of dried beans in the basement :)

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      mmreeses,
      The risk of a rollover is generally proportionate to “asshole” driving.

      I’d say the kids will be safe in this vehicle. I’d be more concerned about rollovers with full chassis pickups and SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Note that (per the Internet) the Patriot has had ESP (stability control) as standard since at least 2008, and quite possibly since the first Patriots.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about rolling it even under normal emergency maneuvering.

      (I love living in the future, as someone who until recently still had a car without even ABS.)

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Daughter #1 has been through a one day driving school at Skip Barber’s school, so she has had a little practice at this.

      Daughter #2 will get the same when she is of age.

      • 0 avatar
        mattwc1

        In an earlier article about the worst cars of 2016, I posted my impressions of a weeklong rental (2016 Patriot High Latitude 2.4l/6speed auto). Both my soon to be driving 16 year old daughter and myself loved the Patriot.(For the record, I have not driven the Patriot in any other configuration). I found the pairing of the 2.4L and the Hyundai sourced 6 speed auto perfect for this vehicle. The interior is simple but well laid out. I liked the front seats and the visibility. Finally, whether you but brand new with FCA cash on the hood or slightly used (probably a better option), it is an absolute bargain. I have seen slightly used 2015/2016 Patriots going for the 14-17k range.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Good for you — I’d love to try that at some point! Gotta be good for kids to learn car control; I guess I’d just be concerned that the kids might use that as all the more excuse to show off, but it sounds as if that’s not an issue with your daughters.

        As stated in the comments of the Compass article following this one, I had a Compass, the kissing cousin to your Patriot, for a couple days last week, and one thing I noticed was that the thing seems elephantine in width, which when combined with the lower height versus Patriot, was probably a little more stable; though as others state, between the wide stance and ESP, rollover risk should be minimal.

        Heaven help me, though, I’ve become dependent on the backup camera in my Accord; that Compass wasn’t so-equipped, and between the width and the rear headrests adding to the “visual length,” I had more trouble judging distance out the back, even though the vehicle was shorter than later generations of the Honda Civic!

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Thanks for posting this, Mark.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    It’s boxy & tall. I’d forgive just about anything for that but I felt cramped inside.

    Still, it’s boxy & tall.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Im not quite ready to defend the Patriot, however, so many journalists and commentators really leave out context when they compare vehicles. Price…..is a huge factor to consider in many auto decisions. (almost) Every vehicle becomes a smart buy at a certain price point. For a teenager, I agree this isn’t a bad choice provided its getting all the stars in crash tests (Im not sure that it does).

    Everyone has their brand bias, whether they admit it or not, its difficult to look at things totally objectively, ALL THE TIME. Most people who are ready to poo poo cars do so with the most subjective of viewpoints and use words like “refinement” as a way to pan a vehicle without being specific. We all compromise on every vehicle we buy, unless we truly have no price considerations. Also, just point out that so much of the comments section is filled with anecdotal “evidence” that gets passed off as matter of fact. Like anything in life, if enough people say it, loud enough, often enough, it just becomes truth in the eyes of those who really have no experience in the subject.

    Ive been looking at cars lately and am constantly reminded of reviews and comments I have read. This leads to a lot of second guessing, negotiating with yourself and trying to justify your purchase. None of it is necessary, Ive got to buy whats right for ME. There is no purchase I can make that will satisfy all the naysayers.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I think that’s one of the things Jack and Bark (giggity) have brought up more than once. Most of the automotive “journalist” crowd is made up of people who are utterly divorced from reality because they *don’t buy cars.* What makes a car “great” when you have it given to you for a few days to a week is not what makes a car “great” when you’re plunking down thousands of dollars or going into debt to own one.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        +1 to this and thegamper, but unfortunately, they’ve also scolded us for having a utilitarian bent and shaping the market in such a way that Fiesta STs are a rarity, so they may not be as supportive of someone defending a Patriot as their deserved criticism of auto journalists may suggest.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      @ thegamper: perfect assessment. The internet is filled with people with unlimited cash, always knowledgeable that there are “better cars out there”. Even better than the ones they’re delivering pizzas in.

      And of course we are treated to all the big swinging d**k stories about how the buyer screwed the dealer on his latest purchase. But someone buying on “price” is a cheapskate or the typical FCA customer, or unintelligent, or sub-prime who can’t afford better. Internet snobbery run rampant and the foundation of much commentary.

      Forget the salesmen do this everyday and a good one will make a buyer feel like they took the dealership in his once every few years buy.

      Free floormats will do that to some people. We’re all price conscious in the closing room.

      The Patriot also got excellent crash results until just recently when the IIHS came up with an arbitrary new standard.

      The Patriot appeals to me because of it’s long production run, widely available parts, ease of entry and exit, size and a pretty sturdy and simple package. Like Jeeps of old.

      How many years was the Grand Cherokee in production ? I always thought that was a Jeep trait.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I think old farts like me would be more interested in Patriots if we didn’t see how rapidly they option into CRV/RAV4 money while still being Jeeps.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      As a staunch defender of the Patriot, one just needs to wait for the usual FCA cash on the hood and the Patriot is truly a spectacular value. Honda and Toyota, rightly so, have no reason to put the cash on the hood of the Cr-V or Rav.

      My mother has had a Patriot for, I believe, 4 years now. Loves it. For her 74 year old eyes, the center stack, climate control, radio etc. are easy to use and intuitive. Like her old 92′ Cherokee Sport was. In cloth seat, no sunroof essentially heater and a key these can be had for sub 20k with 20k or less on the clock all day long and new they are easily had in the 26-27k range vs the 33-34 for CR-V.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        No new CR-V I’d buy will ever be 33-34K while I’m still driving.

        But it’d still be a Honda.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        87 Morgan,

        Definitely agreed. Add in the precipitous price cut these see when even gently used and you see why people end up in them. If we accept the idea that “there are no bad cars anymore,” you can see how a Patriot is good enough for most people, especially when they are incentivized financially like that.

        We were recently shopping for a used CUV for my mom in the $15k range, and the average Patriot/Compass had half the miles of a CR-V or Rav-4. We ended up getting her a Hyundai Tuscon though, because we didn’t want to gamble on the long term reliability of a compact Jeep given their reputation. The Hyundai was CPOed and relatively new with low miles, so that helped the decision too.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “we didn’t want to gamble on the long term reliability of a compact Jeep given their reputation”

          How is that agreeing with him?

          • 0 avatar
            duffman13

            Kenmore,

            I was agreeing that price is the thing that makes these cars attractive to people compared to the better-liked competition. You’ll see several thousand in incentives on a new Patriot versus the MSRP minus college/loyalty/military rebates only on a Honda/Toyota. Likewise, you can get a 2YO, low mileage, still in warranty, possibly CPOed Patriot for a price that gets you a 5-6YO CR-V or Rav-4 with 80k on it.

            Then I said we considered it but went another direction because we found a better option. We cross shopped them specifically because it was the price range my mom was looking in.

            To be fair though, unless you’re a CR subscriber or a commenter on this site, most people think Jeeps are relatively good, reliable SUVs. They don’t carry as much reputation baggage as the rest of their FCA brethren.

  • avatar

    Years ago, when you worked at that dealership, there was an “ass for every seat.” That’s just not the case anymore, and dealers who think that way are in danger of becoming as obsolete as that Jeepy Jeep.

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      Your hubris is astounding. Were your philosophy of marketing truly as revolutionary as you have come to believe, you would have no time or inclination to make 20 word response to anyone. You remind me of the Hall-Dobbs guys who were the first advocates of the “system” sell from the late 1950’s. The ills of modern dealership operation come from this tree of knowledge. I would probably want at least a retail contract worth of experience – and results- before touting my modern agenda. The Jackie Cooper “bounce” is not a managerial style.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @olddavid:
        Keeping the inventory turning over is business school basics.

        Bark’s “philosophy of marketing” is fundentally sound business advice, restated for car dealers.

        Every parking spot on the lot has an opportunity cost, both for the space and for the money tied up in the inventory parked there. Selling cars quickly and steadily keeps the business from clogging itself up.

        For a convincing case study with a more complex business process, see “The Goal” by Eliyahu Goldratt. The same principles that kept the protagonist from clogging up his factory can be applied to avoid clogging up a car dealership.

        Alas, it means that dealers stock boring nonoffensive cars, rather than exciting cars.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Woooo! Patriot!

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      When I saw a reader was writing a column that defended the Jeep Patriot, I thought it was going to be you.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Right on Dave, I was happy to see this as well.

      I’d be genuinely curious to see how a Patriot would have kept up with my 4Runner this weekend on some pretty mild-ish dirt road exploration, I’m willing to bet pretty darn decently. Heck, my 4Runner was in over its head rather quickly as soon as I hit shallow but very slick mud (I have lame all seasons on my summer wheels). At that point it’s mostly down to tires. The one challenge I think a non-Freedom Drive II Patriot would have struggled with was one short washed out lumpy section where articulation is the name of the game (that or well tuned offroad traction control). Aside from that its 8 inches of clearance would have sufficed, and the tight approach and departure angles would work well.

      This is all aside from the innate goodness of its low price+ boxy AWD + good clearance package. Long term reliability is a bit of a question mark, these Caliber platform mates have more than their fair share of electrical issues (TIPM), prematurely wearing front ends, and weird body sealing issues where water leaks inside the cars.

  • avatar
    S197GT

    it is a jeep (brand) and it is cheap.

    it is fine for what it is. i don’t begrudge anyone for getting one.

    current lease offer in my area:

    ’16 Patriot High Altitude 4X4

    $169/mo; 36 months, 10k miles/yr, $2268 due at signing.

    and that is a higher end model w/the 6-speed.

  • avatar
    Eyeflyistheeye

    My housemates who literally can’t tell the difference between a tire and wheel own a Patriot. But, they still manage to tell me its faults in detail.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Congratulations on finding ANYTHING that satisfies three women. I’ve been down that teenage first car road twice. Usually the Venn diagrams of price, reliability and female wishes do NOT overlap. I chose to go with wishes and reliability and overspent on the car.

    • 0 avatar
      DevilsRotary86

      You could always do what my parents did; “Here’s the car we bought for you. Here are the keys, like it or lump it.”

      I have to say, it actually turned out OK in the end.

      • 0 avatar
        Sloomis

        Or what mine did: “Buy your own damn car”

        • 0 avatar
          DevilsRotary86

          My parents were different on that. I tried to buy my own car. They said it was a stupid idea and just drive the car they bought me.

          • 0 avatar
            Sloomis

            My parents said it was a stupid idea too, I didn’t need a car until I was out of college, so if I wanted one after I graduated high school I was on my own.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        My wife has a funny story like this from when she was a teenager.

        She had just had her car totaled in an accident (Cavalier Coupe). Her dad, who owned a small car lot at the time, brought home a late-90s Lumina. Being a bratty kid, she refused to drive it for a couple days because teenage girl reasons. She relented after 3 days, because having an ugly car is better than having no car.

        She turned out OK in the end.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Or what mine did:
        “Go buy your own car.”


        *edit: didn’t realize someone already used that line, lol I didn’t plagiarize, I swear! :)

        Sucks because my dad traded in a 1992 F-150 Custom 2wd with a 300 I-6/5MT a few weeks after I got my license. He complained that its trade in value didn’t even pay the taxes on his new Ranger. I would’ve loved that truck.

        Instead, I bought a 1984 Mazda B2000. First, the head gasket went, second, the brakes seized, third, clutch failed, fourth, rear main poured oil like that Exxon tanker I’m too lazy to go look up to spell correctly. Valdeze? Anyway, the Mazda was a pile of crap.

        I traded it for a 1985 Sentra coupe with 198k. It had lots of issues, too. I bought a 1987 Taurus on payments, but ended up trading it back to the guy for a wretched 1983 Tercel SR-5 4wd wagon that was also a hair under 200k and also very problematic.

        All of that could’ve been avoided if he would’ve given me the excellent condition F-150 or let me buy it for the amount he took for it on the trade-in.

        My idiot brother, who stole cigarettes and barely passed high school with a D average got a new 1996 V-6/5-speed Mustang as a graduation gift. I would’ve chosen a new Taurus or a Mazda B4000 4×4 5 speed (I would’ve been happy with a Ford Aspire 3 door manual even!), but wasn’t given the option despite having better grades and never getting into trouble. Figure that one out.

        Lol for my 18th birthday, I got a K-Mart particle board computer desk. No computer, just the desk.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I know it’s probably an executable offense to say it, but I always thought these, at least in terms of their physical form and proportions, remind me most of the XJ. Especially the stripper with the painted steelies. If you just need a simple bare-bones actual “utility” vehicle (but not necessarily for off-road), one of these with a manual might be good.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I think, really, the Patriot *is* the modern XJ. Aside from the CVT, it’s pretty durable and straightforward, it’s easy to work on, it’s inexpensive to acquire, it’s utilitarian…and it *definitely* looks like the XJ.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Kyree the general ‘flavor’ is there but the brutal simplicity of the XJ’s solid axles with an ancient OHV straight six hooked up to a fantastically durable Aisin AW-4 and good old part time t-cases (or the versatile Selec-trac) cannot be matched by a fwd sedan based platform with a viscous-coupling driven AWD system. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Patriots well enough, just not anywhere as much as the XJ.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    I didnt even bother to read the article. There is no Damn defense.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    Your daughters are very lucky to have you as a dad, FormerFF.

    When I started driving back in 1998, it wasn’t ” I was shopping for a late-model used car for my daughters to drive.”. Instead, I came home from school one day to find an old brown Honda sedan in our driveway. I thought we had a visitor. When I got in the door my parents told me “we found you a car, it’s a 1983 Honda Accord. Your Dad got it from a coworker for $1000. Please don’t get in a wreck since it will probably lose, remember it’s not a hot rod, and the seized air conditioner is in the trunk. We might get it fixed later. And please share with your brother”. In regards to the A/C I should note that I live in Texas. But at least the original factory tape deck + AM/FM radio still worked, even the spring loaded presets!

    We kept it for about a year. Then my mother got a new car, they traded in my Accord, moved dad into mom’s old car, and moved me into dad’s old car. So I went from a 1983 Accord to a 1991 Civic with a manual transmission, working and cold A/C, but with a barely (not really) working radio. It felt like a rocket ship compared to the ’83 Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Look at this, wah wah I didn’t like the car my parents gave me.

      Try buying your own, making $5.10 an hour – before union dues!

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        I think you misunderstood my story. I am not ungrateful for the car; I drove it for a year happy to have my “own” wheels. I am grateful they saw fit to give me anything; I know they didn’t have to. I am more stating admiration for Mr. FormerFF for going out of his way to find something decent for his children with most of the more recent safety equipment, and including his children in the decision. It wasn’t a privilege that I was granted.

        “Try buying your own, making $5.10 an hour – before union dues!”

        It’s funny you should say that. I had saved up some money from a summer job, and I thought it would be nifty to buy my own car. One that was truly mine, that I picked out, that I earned. When they got wind of the idea, my dad flew off the handle. It was a stupid idea and I was to reconsider it immediately.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          “When they got wind of the idea, my dad flew off the handle. It was a stupid idea and I was to reconsider it immediately.”

          Now why is that? Because you’d pick something sporty?

          • 0 avatar
            DevilsRotary86

            ’80s Chrysler New Yorker actually. With the 2.5L Mitsubishi Turbo engine. Owned by my friend’s mother. Not the classic teenage ride, but it had been well maintained with a clean interior and no rust on the body.

            No his complaint wasn’t about it being sporty. It was that he had bought me a perfectly good car, why do I need to buy my own?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ahh. A slight to his parenting, got it.

          • 0 avatar
            DevilsRotary86

            Maybe a little, but noone is perfect either. Let’s just say my parents had their own way of running the family. Everything ended up fine quirks and all, and I have no doubts whatsoever that they love me. I like to think we have an OK relationship now that I am an adult. I am not sure why you are being so antagonistic.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I am not. Asked why, you explained. If you -feel- antagonized at that simple statement it might say something.

      • 0 avatar
        LIKE TTAC.COM ON FACEBOOK

        In what part of the country does ANYONE make $5.10 an hour, which is less than the minimum wage, much less while in a union?
        The last time I made around $5.10 an hour was in 1983.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Because I was speaking in present tense, yeah?

          Circa 2000-2002.
          Underage worker, 14-16.
          The minimum wage in 2002 was $5.15.

          Tone it down.

        • 0 avatar
          DevilsRotary86

          I don’t actually know what I made per hour then. I worked summers at a Boy Scout summer camp for I think $160/week. I lived on camp full time 7 days per week, 7 weeks per summer, plus 1 or 2 weeks for Cub Scouts. The day started at about 6AM with Flag Call, and ended at about 6 or 7PM with the retiring of the flag. But you didn’t necessarily work every hour from 6A-7P. And room and board was provided. Well, room was a large 12′ x 12′ tent with a wooden pallet floor. But it was a nice tent that could be made nice with some accessories. Especially if you found one of the “open corner” tents.

          Technically, I was classified as “seasonal/recreational”, so minimum wage laws didn’t apply to me. I couldn’t have asked for a better job for that time of my life.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            I was interning in college for $9.00/hr., and felt like I hit the big-time! (1992-ish!) Made maybe $3.75/hr. at the Golden Arches the rest of college.

            Saw that the local Five Guys burger joint is hiring with starting wage of ** $10/hr.! ** (And the prices haven’t gone up!)

            How perspectives change!

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          I distinctly remember the minimum wage in NY was 3.35/hr somewhere around 1985 when I was still in high school.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Thanks for the kind words. I know there are a lot of people who think of a teenager car as being an old beater, but what I’ve found is that is you’re paying retail prices for repairs, it’s not that much more per year to buy a newer car that’s and deal with the depreciation than to pay for the repairs on an older car. I also wanted them to have up to date safety equipment.

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        “what I’ve found is that is you’re paying retail prices for repairs, it’s not that much more per year to buy a newer car that’s and deal with the depreciation than to pay for the repairs on an older car.”

        Or just not repair the car. Yes, I am being snarky; that’s a small swipe at my parents for not having the A/C fixed on my car years ago :) If you guys are reading this, just kidding mom and dad! Do love you.

        But on a serious note, I agree with your assessment. While my parents dumped a beater on me*, I won’t be doing the same for my daughter. Likely, we will just have her drive my wife’s Honda Fit and get my wife something new. She is almost 7 now, so the Fit will be about 9 or 10 years old at that time. Assuming that our autonomous car overlords haven’t taken over by then.

        * Though it really wasn’t much of a beater; it ran quite well for a then-15 year old 80’s car. And the automatic transmission actually worked better than many recent cars that I have had the pleasure of renting.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Your previous statement about the ’91 Civic’s radio was spot-on; you probably had the 1000-series radio in that car, a muddy mess, and the 2000-series radio (like in my ’94 Civic) wasn’t much better. The 3000-series would have been the best, as I think it specced-out like the Accord radios.

          Nice part about those cars was the plug-‘n-play nature of accessories back then — pre-wired for speakers, with an indentation in the package shelf for them — just cut with a utility knife, screw ’em into the brackets!

          Want a HomeLink in your Accord LX, circa 1999 or so? No problem: order the part from the dealer, and swap it into the overhead console — the wiring was all there, even in the heater-and-wind-them-yourself-windows-equipped Accord DX!

  • avatar
    SC5door

    The “refresh” made the Patriot less ugly for sure. I’d certainly try to find one (if ever looking) with the trailer tow prep group—full sized spare tire and aux engine oil cooler.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      The Patriot has looked pretty much the same for its entire existence. I think you’re thinking of the Compass, which got a significant re-styling a few years ago. Went from googly-eyed caricature to something more like a mini Grand Cherokee.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The Compass’ restyle was more dramatic, but the Patriot did get significant updates too. Mainly to the grille and bumper. 2011+ models definitely look much nicer than earlier ones, especially with the wheel/tire group.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Their only saving grace is they’re not as ugly as the Compass.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      They blend in my mind. I think the Compass is the one with the Grand Cherokee front end? I like that one better.

      Overall – Patriot, Compass, Nitro, and final Liberty model all just look the same.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Truer words were never spoken than when he wrote “It’s probably the ideal teenager car. It’s not fast in a straight line, it’s doesn’t encourage aggressive driving, and it’s not going to make a young driver want to go out and see how fast he can get around the local Dead Man’s Curve.”

    Of course as others have noted the high ride height might mitigate this.

    The slowest car, with base trim, great visibility and all the required safety features makes the best teen car.

    As for the Patriot, I would also worry about its long term reliability and CVT.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      If you peruse the Patriot forums it seems that the CVT has been rock solid compared to the 5 speed manual version.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Consumer Reports shows the Patriot’s reliability being average.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I think a used Nissan Leaf is actually the perfect car. It’s inexpensive to acquire, reliable and safe. Plus, with such low range, how much trouble can a teen really get into?

      Of course, a lot of you know I’m not that far removed from my teenage years (I got my driver’s license less than 10 years ago), but I definitely see things through the lens of a parent these days.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        The one downside I can see of the Leaf is that if they do Stupid Teenager Stuff and “run out of gas”, they need a tow and then a pretty long charge, not a can of gas and to find the nearest gas station…

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I can tell you with utmost certainty that my brother (millennial) was not responsible enough to remember and charge his car, OR make sure it had enough electricity in it before setting off for days’ activities.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          +1, Sigivald.

          Guarantee you that you get ***the call*** at the least convenient time.

          “Daddy….I ran out of juice…..”

          I’d pass.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Plenty of these in my area. Which makes sense when directions to the homes of nearly everyone who lives outside of city/town/village/community limits includes “then you turn off of the paved road” and often includes “a 1/2 mile past mile marker 20 on US 491 you’ll see a turn off…”

    The seem to be reliable for a group of people who use Jeeps like Jeeps. If they could afford Wranglers they’d buy them, but around here people would rather spend their money putting Wranglers on their butts and a cheap brand new 4×4 in front of their domicile.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Thanks for writing this, FormerFF and good call by Mark for making this the first reader review for awhile. Whipping boys like the Patriot need a defense, for balance if nothing else.

    The Patriot has its virtues. They may be few and subjective, but they’re there. I applaud the boxy honest styling in an age of jelly beans. The cost of entry is low. It is surprisingly capable off road with the low-ratio Freedom Fries Drive II CVT. For 25 grand you can have a soft roader that fills the trail worthiness gap between soccer mom wagons and the 4Runner. The powertrain may be loud and harsh and the seats feel like dissolving foam and it will get 23 mpg if lucky, but still…25 grand for a rig that will get down roads sure to kink the floorboards of a CR-V isn’t a bad deal for certain buyers.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I hadn’t thought of the Patriot in terms of being a suitable vehicle for first-time drivers. Kind of makes sense. Looks like a Jeep, not terribly fast (especially when paired with the CVT), interior isn’t so fancy that one worries about expensive damage. Yeah, it would work. I’m just always worried about the ease of ability for “extracurricular” activities in a car where the rear seats fold (mostly) flat. LOL. Of course, I found ways around that in the two bucket seats of my ’78 Plymouth Arrow, so what do I know?

    But as a 46-year old, I just couldn’t pull the trigger on a Patriot when we were looking for a small CUV to replace my deceased Lancer Sportback Ralliart. It was just too cheap for me to accept, and used ones with the CVT were (to me, anyway) a bit annoying to drive. I get the appeal, truly. But we wound up with a 2014 Escape, instead. My wife, bless her heart, knows I’ve secretly pined for a Wrangler for years and made the effort to point out the Patriot when we were looking (look honey, you’ve always wanted a Jeep!), but the Escape won out in the end.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “I’m just always worried about the ease of ability for ‘extracurricular’ activities in a car where the rear seats fold (mostly) flat.”

      Yeah, I subscribed to that theory, too, until I saw—and not by choice—what my friend managed to accomplish in an NA Miata *with* the top up, during a school football game. Horny kids will manage to have sex anywhere.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I had a 2014 Patriot for a while and we grew to like it for what it was. It had the 2.4L, 4×4, 17″ aluminum wheels, A/T tires and a 5 speed manual. It had good utility, was decent on fuel, and adequate power. As a bonus, it was pretty impressive in off-road situations too. I’d never call it a great vehicle in a broad context, but for the money they trade for it was a very good value. My wife mentioned she wouldn’t mind getting another one, even though she has access to nicer models.

    When these go out of production at the end of the year, there will be an empty space at the bottom end of the SUV/CUV market. Sales of the Compatriot kept increasing over the years as prices of other lines swelled.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Patriot with the 2.4L and 5-speed manual > Renegade with the 1.4T and 9-speed automatic

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I cannot stand the Renegade. While the Patriot—as others have said—recalls the clean, rectilinear styling of the XJ, the Renegade just looks like a caricature of a car. I also dislike both the 1.4T in every vehicle I’ve tried it in (well, maybe not the 500 Abarth). The sleepy 1.4T GM used in the Cruze and Sonic is actually better. And the less said about the 9-speed, the better.

        Yes, for my money, I’d rather get a Patriot than to spend more on a Renegade. Also, the Patriot is one of those cars that I don’t mind in base trim (although if it comes with steelies, they will be promptly replaced wit alloys). I feel that way about very few cars.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Doesn’t the Renegade only have the 9-spd with the 2.4 engine? I think the 1.4T only comes as a manual.

        But I agree with Kyree that the Renegade looks silly. Not even the Batman package (yes, that’s a real thing) can make it look better than the Patriot.

      • 0 avatar
        cls12vg30

        I’ve owned (and heartily enjoyed) a 2015 Renegade Latitude 1.4T for the past year, and can confirm that the turbo is only available with the six-speed manual. Yes, the powerband is a little roller-coastery, but once you adjust it’s quite enjoyable, and that can be addressed with any of the ECU or GoPedal options out there which are bolt-on, warranty-preserving customization options. The handling of the Renegade is something that isn’t talked about enough. The electronic power steering is actually really well-executed, and when you combine it with the factory Koni variable-damper struts, it’s actually quite tossable. I do a lot of highway driving, and average a hair over 32 mpg. I paid $22,100 out the door. Couldn’t be happier.

  • avatar
    Macca

    The overblown hate from the internet hivemind is comical, and the Patriot serves as a good example.

    We vacationed in Banff National Park about six years ago and our rental from Calgary was a Patriot. I was prepared to hate everything about it because of its internet reputation. Imagine my amazement to find it to be a very competent, even pleasant, people hauler during our time with it.

    Perhaps it isn’t surprising, though, given that my expectations were about as low as possible. But coming from my woeful experience with the Honda Element, it was surprising to me to find the Patriot to be rather solid, quieter, and even lighter (in FWD config, it’s about 200 lbs less than the Element).

    Contrast that with coming into the situation with high expectations, such as my euro Audi A4 rental – full of creaky, ill-fitting and cheap plastic interior bits and a stop/start system befitting a tractor – where you’re bound to be let down.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I fully buy into the “there are no bad cars anymore” hype.

      Are some less good than others? Yes, absolutely. But for the most part, they’re safe, efficient, have adequate equipment, and will make it to a 6 figure mileage without any major failures.

      This jeep is a poster-child for that statement. Not fast or refined, or even very good, but it’ll get the job done.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I almost wish I would have been tossed the keys to a Patriot instead of that Compass last week; despite being on the same platform, the two vehicles seem completely different, based on the comments in here.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    my condolences.

  • avatar
    mattmacklind

    I appreciate the defense of this model. I see these everywhere, I mean everywhere, several per day here in the midwest.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    I have had the displeasure of renting one of these on three separate occasions due to Enterprise not having in anything else. I drove from Jacksonville FL to Chocowinity NC each time. The 8 hours it takes to drive one way in this thing felt like 13. Between the mediocre seats, loud and crummy engine and the CVT I was tired way before my 12 hour limit.
    I used to be able to drive further but really dont like to anymore.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    I also expected these to be the most hateful thing I’d ever been in. Then I got a rental 4×4 version and it wasn’t bad. It went mild off-roading with no problems. The interior was simple but it wasn’t bad. And it was easy to wipe off. I don’t objectively know if it was better off road than a CRV or whatever but it definitely seemed like a nice overall vehicle that would do well for camping and other outdoorsy crap.

  • avatar
    shaker

    “…number 18 out of 18 in U.S. News’s “Best Compact SUVs” list.”

    JEEP: “Patriot called “One of the Best Compact SUV’s by U.S. News.”

  • avatar
    kwong

    I rented on of these during a trip to Ft. Lauderdale, FL back in 2010 and had grew to appreciate it on a drive to Orlando. The CVT seemed a little sluggish, but perhaps the engine didn’t help much either. Still, it was fun to traverse a flooded parking lot during a tropical storm…something I wouldn’t do with my own low-profile cars. t wouldn’t choose to buy this car new, but I’d be willing to shell out $5K for such a car on the used market. We recently rented a Mazda5 in Kauai, HI and I’d say it’s a toss up between which car I’d prefer to drive as a daily. Both were great for their rental purposes, but it makes me appreciate my VW TDI as a daily and the S2000 as my fun car.

  • avatar
    Polishdon

    Coming from someone that owns a 2016 Jeep Patriot High Altitude 4×4, all I can say is one thing…..

    In 16 months and 4 days that P*S’s lease is up and it is GONE!!!! Of all the Mopars I have owned (and I have owned ALOT), it is the worst. Hard to get in and out, uncomfortable to drive, incredible lack of power, WAY too small for anyone older the in there 20’s.

    Heck, I’d rather have just about anyone of the many crappy FOMOCO’s I’ve owned back.

    Cannot wait to see it leave!

  • avatar

    This vehicle is indefensible. I have driven several iterations and each time I think “Who said this vehicle was acceptable? Who said this is our best effort, and we can sell this to the public in good conscience?”

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Matt, aka. FormerFF,
    What a refreshing read. I do like your take on the vehicle and how you came about investing your money in it.

    From your story I do believe your kids will like the vehicle and hopefully have learnt a little about buying a vehicle.

    This should make buying your youngest daughter’s car a much easier exercise.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      You’re welcome. I’m hoping to send daughter #1 off to university without a car, and have daughter #2 drive it for her junior and senior years of high school, so hopefully it will be a while before we add yet another car to the family fleet.

      This Jeep thing seems to be getting contagious. I asked daughter #2 if she were pick out a car right how what she would get, and she chose the Jeep Cherokee.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    What did D1 say about Renegade?

  • avatar
    Troggie42

    I enjoyed the read, not sure I agree with the premise, though.

    It strikes me in a similar vein to Doug DeMuro’s Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet review video he did, where he spent more than 5 minutes telling us how terrible the car was, and then ended it with a rousing “I love it!” basically because Nissan was “daring” enough to build something so incredibly terrible. Just because something exists when it shouldn’t isn’t virtue enough to praise it on some odd level.

    Bad cars don’t need defending, they need improving or eliminating.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’m not one to trash anyone’s choices, but personally, if I had to pick a new or new-ish car for my teenage daughters, one choice comes to mind: Scion iA.

    Great little car, gets excellent mileage, has all the latest safety stuff (including a panic braking system), and is running around $14,500 around here. And you don’t have to deal with FCA “reliability” and their abysmal resale issues.

    Tell you the truth, I could live with an iA pretty easily myself. And if Toyota were to start selling the hatchback version, it’d be really, really tempting.

  • avatar
    geo

    I rented a 2014 model a couple weeks ago. I liked it. It seemed powerful enough, steered and rode nice. It felt bulky and heavy from the driver’s seat, and the lack of second-row space seemed odd. Still, it made me wonder if perhaps the Caliber wasn’t such a bad car after all — at least after the interior updates. I remember preferring my rental Caliber over a Matrix I had once driven. Were we too mean to the Caliber as well?

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    FormerFF…I agree and thanks. And very nicely done!!!

    Thanks for making me feel strong enough to come out from the closet!
    I see these little SUVs running around everywhere in the Ozarks!
    And truth be told, I think they look awesomely solid and useful. I can see why they are everywhere.

    Between this or the Journey…not sure which is the more popular everyday car round these hills!!!

    But this comes from somebody who liked the 2007 Liberty designs!!!!

  • avatar
    zach

    Why do some jeeps get round headlamps, and some not, has the GC ever had round headlights, and why does the patriot have round, and the liberty square, when the first liberty had round, also the XJ never had round (the best looking, realist jeep ever, in addition to the Wrangler which did have round, then square and back to round headlamps.

    • 0 avatar
      Trucky McTruckface

      1) Go back far enough and all Jeeps had round headlights, just like every manufacturer.

      2) The Grand Cherokee kinda sorta had round headlights from ’05-’10. That model was a POS.

      3) Square headlights were the sh*t from the time DOT legalized them in ’74 until ’83 when they finally admitted the ’30s were over and stopped mandating sealed beam lights. Thus, the YJ Wrangler, adopted square lights in a very hamfisted attempt to look contemporary. Enthusiast backlash was so great that Jeep has since gone completely overboard with retro styling cues, particularly the round headlights. The XJ Cherokee debuted in ’84 before the brand became scared of its own heritage and, unsurprisingly remains one of their best styling efforts to date.

      Worst of all, every 2000s Jeep product seemed to be either a weird mashup of Jeep CJ and AMC Matador/Pacer styling cues or a Chinese knockoff of the XJ. Say what you will about the new Cherokee’s polarizing looks, but at least they tried.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Toledo, OH, home of the Wrangler and anticedents, held a “Jeep Fest” a couple weeks ago to celebrate the brand’s 75th-anniversary. The parade through downtown had ** 900 ** vehicles in it, representing one model from every year of production.

        I saw almost none of the square-lighted Wranglers; they were outnumbered by CJs going backwards, and newer Wranglers forwards! There was even a new Renegade in the mix, but most of the other stuff, Jefferson (Detroit) GCs aside, came outta Toledo!

  • avatar
    rudiger

    ‘Modern XJ’ pretty much says it all. Yeah, the Patriot, as a rebodied Dodge Caliber, has never been nearly as trail-worthy as the original, but that’s why it’s modern. For the money (street-price), the Patriot is tough to beat for a cheap, entry-level CUV. It may not have the same, up-to-date bells and whistles as the current class leading Toyota or Honda CUVs, but it has the Jeep name and ‘look’ which is so critical to lifestyle buyers, particularly teenagers who don’t want anything other than something that says ‘Jeep’. It’s like a Wrangler for those who can’t afford one and, honestly, likely wouldn’t get the use out of the Wrangler’s offroad abilities, anyway. The Wrangler is hardcore Jeep, while the Patriot is softcore, but they both still say ‘Jeep’.

    Frankly, as the final spiritual successor to the XJ, I’ll be rather sad when the last Patriot rolls off the line.

  • avatar
    pbxtech

    They aren’t bad for the money. My biggest complaints were the CVT (until I got used to it) and the tiny gas tank. I looked at one for my daughter too. I ended up with a Dart that she loves. My Patriot was never back to the dealer and her Dart has been flawless for two years. If I’d of had more money at the time I’d have gotten something nicer.

  • avatar
    Cobrajet25

    Wow, somebody actually LIKES a vehicle that the internet automotive hive-mind has condemned to burn at the stake?

    Me, too. I drive a Mitsubishi Mirage…and LOVE IT.

  • avatar
    tsoden

    When I was ready to buy my first car… (@20 years of age), my dad really REALLY wanted me to take his 1984 Plymouth Vogager off his hands… Yeah sure, I had learned to drive with that thing, and it had tons of room for my friends and stuff… but it was old, leaked power steering fluid, had no functional AC… and well was very close to being delivered to the crusher. No… instead I leased a 1996 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe. Loved the looks (but not the reliability or the build quality), and was proud to have it as my first car even though it put me in the red during the whole time of the lease.

    I don’t regret this decision… but in hindsight, I should have looked at better options.

  • avatar
    Budman

    I stopped with my wife and 5yo kid not too long ago at a Dodge/Jeep dealership with like 45 minutes to waste before he had to be at a BDay party. Mostly to see the Renegade in person and maybe catch a glimpse of a real Charger Hellcat (I did).

    I poked around the Renegade and asked my wife what she thought of it. She didn’t seem enthused and instead told me “this one is almost same price and looks more manly”. I was like “you like that? It looks so blah and dated.” She was like “yes, it fine.”

    …It was the Patriot. Ugh

    I think of these as bargain/cheap first new car for teenager in this “CUV first” era, or for adults who really can’t afford the few thousands more for it’s sibling the Cherokee. I thought the Renegade was more appealing and even “manlier” but my wife is the perfect measure for opinions of normal masses (not in a negative way)

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