That’s all well and good until you see a Coloradan cussing his/her friggin' head off trying to push through snarled traffic in the middle of a snowy, icy morning.
Most small crossovers with all-wheel drive (AWD) are good in light snow and ice, but few have the chops to handle anything with dirt. It takes more than tough looks and a (fake) skid-plate to be affective off road. You need good approach and departure angles, good ground clearance, a traction control system that will let your wheels dig into the dirt and, hopefully, a locking differential for the frontend or both.
…or, a 4-wheel drive (4WD) system that acts similar to locking differentials while allowing a good crawl ratio; or, an AWD system that won’t cry “mercy” when you thrash it; or, something that has a little bit of everything you need to venture off the beaten path.
Perhaps, something beefy that has the huevos to take a mild off-road beating without embarrassing itself.
The 2012 Jeep Patriot has the swine strips of love (bacon) to add to those huevos.
Here are five things you need to know about the 2012 Jeep Patriot Latitude:
- It’s not fast: A 141 horsepower 2-liter engine comes in the base model with FWD that we can’t recommend. It’s just not enough oomph and nearly no benefit in option and economy. The 172 hp, 2.4-liter four-banger puts out an okay 165 lbs-feet of torque and was recorded at just over 12 seconds getting a 2011 Patriot from 0 to 60 with 4WD and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Mileage is so-so with 24 mpg combined with the AWD/CVT combo and 25 mpg combined with a FWD with a 5-speed manual. Overall, the power comes on slow and the only way to get the most out of the engine is to opt for the AWD-style Freedom Drive I system with a 5-speed manual.
- It’s not staying around for much longer: We’ve heard official and unofficial rumblings that the Patriot and its cousin the Jeep Compass will be replaced soon. This is probably the last or second to last year for the Jeep-lets. The platform for the upcoming FIAT 500L (which is a larger, multipurpose platform than the regular 500) may underpin a replacement as early as 2013. Current prices start at $15,995 and, with all of the option boxes checked, peak at about $30,000.
- It’s no Wrangler: I think it’s handsome and it does have some Wrangler styling cues – but, it ain’t a Wrangler… not by a long shot. If you go off road more than a few times a year, the Jeep Patriot may not be for you. Sure, the Freedom Drive II off road system is very capable and even locks in a low gear setting, similar to locking in a low crawl ratio with a proper transfer case, but it’s not meant for crushing boulders in Moab every weekend. It will get you to a fishing-hole or nifty campsite – within reason. It’s still capable and will kick the ass of 90% of the crossovers out there off road. For me? I would still stick to the Freedom Drive I/2.4-liter/5-speed mix. It will not crawl like the Freedom Drive II – but it will be more enjoyable to live with. If you want to tow, the maximum the 2012 Jeep Patriot can tow is 2,000 lbs when properly equipped.
- It’s not for everyone: Just like nearly every Jeep product, the Jeep Patriot is a bit of a niche vehicle. A person who has more than 2 kids will need something bigger. My two rug-rats were just fine and there was plenty of room for a small family’s groceries, but not much else. The front seats were surprisingly comfortable and my chunky butt was pleased. On the other hand, a skinny-bones friend of mine was uncomfortable in the passenger’s seat. More pressing for folks who dig on vehicles like the Honda CR-V, the overall package of the Patriot (ergonomics, room, utility etc) is somewhat more primitive.
- What extras do you get with the “Latitude” edition?: Here are the additional things the 2012 Jeep Patriot Latitude give you over the base mode Sport: Air Conditioning, Power Windows w/ Driver One-Touch, Power Heated Fold-Away Exterior Mirrors, Keyless Entry, Remote Start System+, 17-Inch Aluminum Wheels, Heated Cloth Seats, Driver Seat w/ Height Adjust, Front Passenger Fold-Flat Seat, 60/40 Split Reclining Backseat, 115V power inverter, Body Color Door Handles, Body Color Liftgate Applique, Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel, Steering Wheel Mounted Audio Controls, Speed Sensitive Power Locks, Illuminated Entry.
Look, I am not here to extol the virtues of Jeep Patriot. It’s a good, small crossover that has a tiny bit of personality and good utility. It’s slow and primitive compared to many in its class and some hard-core offroaders might poke fun of you. Then again, with its outstanding drivability off road (for a crossover), decent road manners, good economy and excellent price; the 2012 Jeep Patriot has enough goodness mixed in to make a hell of a good omelet.
I have seriously considered one to mix in my breakfast of crossovers. I even priced one out… which was under $25,000. That’s pretty good for something as nifty as the 2012 Jeep Patriot.
Here’s a tasty video featuring the 2012 Jeep Patriot!
Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com page HERE. Follow on twitter @TFLcar or watch latest car review videos on YouTube.