There's no kind way to say this: 2012 Jeep Patriot has a dismal Total Car Score. Jeep calls it "the best-priced compact SUV in America." The emphasis on SUV rather than crossover marks the distinction between this and its Compass sibling. The Patriot is squarer, offering a more practical cargo space and a less urbane appearance. .
An optional off-road package provides all-wheel drive plus low-range gearing and higher ground clearance, along with hill descent control, skid plates and all-terrain tires, making this one of the most off-road-capable vehicles in its class.
However, reviewers note a noisy cabin filled with hard plastics. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the sole automatic option and that doesn't find many fans, either.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has named the 2012 Compass as a "Top Safety Pick."
Updates for the 2012 model year feature a re-calibration of that unloved CVT for better acceleration off the line, smoother deceleration and improved throttle response. Three new exterior pearl-effect colors -- blue, green and "copperhead" -- are also added to the 2012 palette.
The five-seat 2012 Jeep Patriot crossover SUV range starts off with a front-wheel-drive base model -- the Sport -- that has a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. Output is 158 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque. The all-wheel-drive version has a 2.4-liter four making 172 hp and 165 lb-ft.
Going up to the front-drive Latitude brings more standard equipment, but also the smaller engine. Once the range gets to the all-wheel-drive Latitude, the bigger engine remains. The standard transmission is a five-speed manual. A CVT (automatic) is optional.
Even the lower-level models get powered accessories, heated mirrors, keyless entry, roof rails, air conditioning, a removable/rechargeable flashlight and 17-inch alloy wheels. Latitude brings heated front seats, fold-flat front passenger seat, 115-volt power inverter and remote start. Limited includes brake discs front and rear, leather-trimmed seating, six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, DVD player, satellite radio, climate control and 18-inch alloys.
Options include the off-road package, navigation, Bluetooth, iPod integration and a premium audio system with speakers set in the lift gate.
EPA ratings for the 2012 Patriot range from 23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined for a FWD model with the 2.0-liter engine and manual transmission to 20/23/21 mpg for an AWD model with the 2.4 engine, CVT and off-road package.
Properly equipped, the 2012 Jeep Patriot can tow up to 2,000 pounds.
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