2013 Jeep Patriot Limited vs. Compact SUVs
When someone says that they drive a Jeep, most people instantly visualize that person in one of three models built at one point or another by this much loved brand. The most well-known Jeeps are the Wrangler, the boxy Cherokee and the more luxurious Grand Cherokee. Sure, some people know that Jeep makes a rather off-road capable small SUV known as the Liberty but as of late that is mainly because production of that vehicle recently was terminated as Jeep awaits a replacement model.
So, does anybody know anything about the baby Jeep models known as the Compass (apparently not returning for model year 2013) or its boxier Patriot platform mate? These compact SUVs are sized to compete with the RAV4’s and Sportages of the world and to many of the Jeep faithful a 2013 Jeep Patriot Limited like the one we recently road tested is considered as off-road ready as any of the aforementioned cute-utes. That is to say, not very.
Now Jeep may have been guilty of starting up at least one too many model lines in the recent past but we were quite astonished by how impressed we were after witnessing not only our 2013 Jeep Patriot’s commendable around town ability but also its hardcore off-road worthiness as evidenced during a special excursion with some of the company’s engineers. Yep, we went off-roading in the hills above Malibu, California with some of Jeep’s top off-roading experts and they showed us exactly what the Patriot was capable of—and it was capable of following in a Wrangler’s tracks, albeit a bit more slowly.
The 2013 Jeep Patriot was not a vehicle that we were particularly looking forward to driving but it turned out to be far more lovable than we ever thought humanly possible. Its boxy silhouette broadcast a solemnity that didn’t give away the possibility that during the seven days we would drive it we would start to depend on it like a faithful friend.
It stood out among rivals for being notably more affordable, for handling more like a car than most compact SUVs and also for striking a deft balance of virtues making it seem like a natural spiritual successor for the much missed original Jeep Cherokee. And yet again let us affirm that yes, this grocery getter could still capably handle all manner of off-road monkey business. Read on for our impressions of this Jeep’s four-wheel drive system.
Exterior Styling and Interior Design
Yes, the 2013 Jeep Patriot Limited 4x4 might be very boxy looking but the looks are clearly meant to transmit a macho vibe mixed with a retro Cherokee-style pastiche. We think of all the Jeep models currently on sale it is the Patriot which adheres the most religiously to the compact dimensions for optimum off-road and suburban efficiency that was the revolutionary concept with the original Jeep Cherokee. In other words, we like it.
The interior of the 2013 Jeep Patriot got a serious lift in ambiance a couple of years back thanks to copious amounts of soft touch plastics, chrome effect trim and more upscale looking controls. While we would say that the interior of the 2013 Jeep Patriot Limited 4x4 we tested was rather simple, this was not a bad thing in our eyes given the solid build and surprisingly durable feeling leather trim.
If you last sat in a Patriot back when they first came out during Chrysler’s time under Daimler’s iron thumb, you really should give this Jeep’s much improved interior another look. It’s by no means up with class leaders like the 2013 Honda CR-V or 2013 Mazda CX-5 but visibility, control access and storage options are all perfectly serviceable.
In regards to this little Jeep’s ability to be a workhorse, with the rear bench in place there is 23.5 cubic feet of storage space on offer in this compact SUV and that figure grows to 53.5 cubic feet with those back seats folded. The standard tow rating for this vehicle is just 1,000 pounds going up to a tow package enhanced model that can manage 2,000 pounds. Or you could just buy a Grand Cherokee if you need to tow something enormous like your double wide trailer.
Pricing, Features and Fuel Economy
First off, at one point in around town cut and thrust city driving we were averaging 14.2 miles per gallon on an EPA scale of 21 city/26 highway. After that we cut back on our judicious throttle applications and managed to get our average up to 18.3 miles per gallon which is still below any EPA ratings and a bit worse than most all of the competition. The Patriot also has a 13.5 gallon fuel tank so its range for road trips isn’t huge.
Our 2013 Jeep Patriot Limited 4x4 had a base price of $25,330 but came standard with automatic climate control, a 2.4 liter 172 horsepower/165 lb. feet of torque 4-cylinder engine, Freedom Drive II 4-wheel drive mated to a CVT automatic with a special low-range setting, heated front seats, 17-inch aluminum wheels, leather seats, power windows and locks, a built-in rechargeable battery, power driver’s seat and a 6-disc AM/FM/CD/aux-in audio system. We did, of course, add a few options to the tally.
For $1,195 we ticked the box for the Security and Convenience Group which adds side airbags (a must), alarm system, remote starting system, Uconnect voice command with Bluetooth (which in our tester took far too long to connect to our iPhone each time we re-started the vehicle), a USB/iPod jack and a soft tonneau cover for the cargo hold. Another $650 increased the audio system’s speaker count to 9 with a subwoofer thanks to the excellent folks at Boston Acoustics.
This package also adds two articulating speakers that lower from the inside of that hatch for tailgate parties. A final $685 upgraded the audio system to a unit with a 40 GB built in-hard drive pushing the grand total to a still tolerable $28,640. Given the feature count most rivals would already be up at or over the $30,000 mark and that’s not even taking into consideration the fact that other compact grocery getter SUVs are mainly “on-demand all-wheel drive” meaning they can’t pull off anything “Trail Rated” like this very capable Jeep.
On-Road Driving Impressions and Safety
For those of you out there worried about buying a Jeep SUV with more modest dimensions please don’t be afraid that this will have any bearing on this vehicle’s ability to keep you and your family safe in an accident. If anything, the Patriot is such a nimble and agile little compact SUV that we dare say it just might keep you from having an accident. In case that doesn’t ease your mind we are happy to report that the 2013 Jeep Patriot ran the crash test gauntlet with the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) and came out the other side with the honor of being named a “Top Safety Pick.”
In comparison to other similarly sized family SUVs we were quite surprised by the Patriot’s hushed and rather refined interior which we mainly did not expect as this vehicle comes with a CVT (continuously variable transmission). And if you have read reviews of many CVT equipped automobiles they range either from lukewarm politeness to the writer actually claiming they thought a dairy cow had stowed away in the back of the vehicle so loud was the “moo” under hard acceleration.
Now, Jeep didn’t get around this transmission trait by covering it up with an insanely powerful motor that screams a symphony during your evening commute much like some Nissans we could mention. Do remember that the Patriot makes do with a punchy 2.4 liter 4-cylinder with a class average 174 horsepower/165 lb. feet of torque. So the 2013 Jeep Patriot Limited 4x4 sounds like the perfect suburban economy SUV from this brand, right? Don’t forget that this Patriot, like all Jeeps, is “trail rated” and is designed to handle extremely challenging off-road trails. We witnessed this firsthand behind the wheel of the Patriot with this legendary off-road company’s best and brightest engineers guiding us past every boulder, wheel eating rut in the road and those pesky cliff side drop offs that would have meant certain death if we’d put one foot wrong. Check out the next segment where we go into greater detail about the Patriot’s mud plugging credentials.
Given the “cute-ute” looks of the 2013 Jeep Patriot most people would be hard pressed to believe how capable this vehicle is off-road. At a Jeep off-road event recently we saw first-hand that this company doesn’t take the fact that all of its vehicles are “Trail Rated” in any way lightly. Sure, the Wrangler was easily the most adept off-road but our Patriot went everywhere the Wrangler did and after it was all over it looked mighty cool covered with dirt and mud.
This explanation of the Patriot’s off-road system also applies to the Compass SUV as they share mechanical pieces and the same Freedom Drive 4x4 system. There is a Freedom Drive One or Two and the one that you will find equipped with a Patriot or Compass depends on your engine and trim level choice. Freedom Drive One just omits a few “true” off-road features like a low crawl ratio, brake traction control and hill descent control. So if you really are sure you will never leave a mall parking lot in your Jeep then Freedom Drive One should suffice.
Now, the 2013 Jeep Patriot Limited 4x4 may not blow your mind the first time you drive it or see it but once you have lived with it as your own for a short time it is very easy to see the appeal of this small yet very off-road ready SUV. No other current compact family SUV in this price range offers the depth and breadth of abilities enjoyed by this innocuous looking little baby Jeep. If you need real 4-wheel drive capability attached to an affordable and comfortable compact family SUV then the Patriot should be on your short list of vehicles to test drive.
What we Loved About the 2013 Jeep Patriot Limited 4x4
- We Loved the Fact that the Patriot is Smaller than Most Competitors but Still Roomy Enough Inside for Most Situations.
- The Rather Surprising Amount of Off-Road Ability this SUV has in its Arsenal.
- The Value for the Dollar Ratio for this SUV is Quite High Especially if You Need Real 4-Wheel Drive Ability.
What We Loathed About the 2013 Jeep Patriot Limited 4x4
- Not the Most Fuel Efficient Choice by Any Means
- Rear Middle Seat Legroom Compromised by Cupholders Located by Passenger’s Feet
- Needs a More Up to Date Navigation Unit to be More Competitive with Modern Graphics.
(Note: All vehicles provided by manufacturers for comparison test purposes. Photos provided by Jeep.)