The Jeep Patriot Sport is the price leader among off-road-capable vehicles, and when we say off-road, we mean it. Any four-wheel-drive SUV can handle on-road snow and light off-road duty, such as a muddy, unpaved trail. With the optional Freedom-Drive II Off-Road Group, Jeep says the Patriot is “trail-rated” in five categories that cover traction, ground clearance, water-fording ability, suspension articulation and maneuverability that make it a true off-road SUV.
A four-wheel-drive Patriot Sport with the off-road equipment and required continuously variable automatic transmission will have a sticker price of $21,140, including the $995 destination charge. The next closest off-road-capable SUV we could find was the Jeep Wrangler two-door at $23,190, but that is a bare-bones version with manual transmission and no air conditioning or power locks, windows or mirrors. Rivals such as the Toyota FJ Cruiser and Nissan Xterra would cost thousands more.
As far as fuel economy, you shouldn’t expect much from an off-road vehicle, and you won’t get much with the Patriot. The EPA rating with the off-road equipment is 20/23 mpg city/highway (and that estimate may be optimistic), so plan on frequent fuel stops. However, if you’re serious about wanting off-road capability on a shoestring, the money you would save on a Patriot Sport compared to some alternatives could pay for a lot of gas.
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