The 2017 Jeep Patriot is painfully slow with the 2.0-liter engine, and even the 2.4-liter models move like molasses when equipped with Freedom Drive II and the soul-sucking CVT. This would be somewhat forgivable if the Patriot were great on gas. It is not. Nor is either engine refined, with the smaller one particularly troubled by the dreaded NVH trio (noise, vibration and harshness). The six-speed automatic is the Patriot’s saving grace, lifting the 2.4-liter engine’s performance to class-competitive levels despite sometimes slow shifts.
On paved surfaces, the Patriot allows an abundance of wind and tire noise into the cabin. The trend these days is toward quietness at speed, even among value-priced vehicles, but this Jeep is a throwback. Ride quality is similarly unimpressive, as the Patriot’s suspension struggles with broken pavement, making for a jittery drive over urban streets. Handling is adequate under normal circumstances, aided by the Patriot’s compact footprint, but you’ll notice plenty of body roll if you enter a corner with any kind of speed. As for the off-road experience, the Freedom Drive II setup moves the Patriot significantly beyond Freedom Drive I’s conventional all-wheel drive — but as noted, it’s also slow and thirsty.
The Patriot’s interior has been tweaked over the years, but it’s still one of the most basic you’ll find, with cheap, hard plastics covering most surfaces and a tilt-only steering wheel that can compromise driver comfort. The Sport model is the worst offender because of its lack of standard power accessories and air-conditioning, but even the Limited’s layout looks and feels more like that of an economy car than a competitive crossover. On the bright side, the front seats are pretty comfortable, providing satisfactory support for long stints in the saddle. Rear passengers won’t be as pleased, however, because legroom is tight and the bottom cushion sits low, largely negating the benefits of the Latitude’s reclining rear seatbacks.
The Patriot’s primary gauges make a good first impression with their large, easy-to-read font, and the straightforward, generally ergonomic controls are consistent with Jeep’s no-nonsense heritage. The optional 6.5-inch touchscreen is outdated, though; the 8.4-inch system used in other Jeep models is vastly superior. As ever, the Jeep Patriot provides optional flip-down liftgate speakers that’ll help get the party started.
Cargo capacity is another potential weak spot. The 23 cubic feet of space behind the rear seatbacks isn’t totally shameful, and folding down the rear seatbacks opens up 53.5 cubic feet of maximum stowage. That’s about what you’ll get from subcompact crossovers such as the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 but much less than bigger models such as the CR-V and CX-5.
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