2014 Jeep Patriot
2014 Jeep Patriot. Click image to enlarge

Review by Paul Williams, photos by Paul Williams and courtesy of Jeep

The Chrysler 2014 Model Preview held at the company’s Chelsea Proving Grounds outside Detroit made available the full range of Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge vehicles for Quick Spins.

We drove most of them in the short time available, reporting on the SRT Viper, the Fiat 500L and 500e, and we also checked out the 2014 Jeep Patriot for a closer look. It’s consistently popular in the Canadian marketplace and an all-new version is rumoured to be imminent.

The Patriot news for 2014, along with the now-standard front-seat mounted side air bags, is the availability of a six-speed automatic (6AT) transmission, complementing the already-available five-speed manual and CVT (continuously variable transmission). So no, it’s not an all-new Patriot, after all.

Granted, the Patriot is arguably ‘Jeep Lite,’ but this vehicle still has a lot to offer, in my view, even if it’s not an extreme rock crawler like its Wrangler and Grand Cherokee stablemates.

Frankly, most automobile journalists are not fans of CVTs, mainly due to their typically vague responsiveness to the throttle and sometimes intrusive sound (they work fine; that’s not the issue). The new six-speed replaces most CVT applications in the Patriot, so this is now what you’ll get unless you order a five-speed manual or the optional Off-Road Group.

The new transmission, officially called the 6F24, was independently developed by PowerTech and is refined for application in the 2014 Patriot. It is fully electronic and designed for fuel efficiency and improved performance. However, we don’t yet have the fuel consumption ratings for 6AT Patriots, so stay tuned for that (manual transmission models are rated at 8.9/6.6.L/100km, city/highway).

Patriots have two engine options – a 2.0L making 158 horsepower and a 2.4L making 172 hp. The new transmission will be fitted to both.

2014 Jeep Patriot2014 Jeep Patriot2014 Jeep Patriot
2014 Jeep Patriot. Click image to enlarge

We drove the Patriot on the Proving Ground’s multi-surface circuit and it impressed with its feeling of stability, interior room, pleasant interior design and civilized driving dynamics.

Patriots, as you may know, are basically another version of the equally popular Compass (the Dodge Caliber was yet another ‘flavour’ but it is no longer produced). The Patriot looks more like a traditional Jeep than the Compass, though, wearing boxier sheet metal and communicating a more rugged image.

The interior already saw a redesign which carries over to the 2014 model year. It’s much nicer than the earlier Patriots, having soft-touch surfaces, more appealing instruments and an overall higher level of fit and finish.

The ride, as I say, felt stable and predictable even on some of the rougher areas of the test circuit. The suspension is not hard, but it’s firm enough to prevent excessive leaning in the corners while retaining sufficient comfort for the non-off-road buyer. Jeep refers to it as a ‘Touring’ suspension.

In my short drive I found the seats comfortable and the steering light and positive. The new transmission improves on the CVT in my view, making the Patriot feel more responsive and satisfying to drive. It shifts smoothly both up and down and in my short drive didn’t seem to irritatingly hang on to the higher gears (in the interests of fuel economy) as some models do. A longer test drive will give a better account of this, however.

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