Used Car Review

2012 Jeep Patriot: Used Car Review

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author photo by Ron Sessions July 2016

As one of the first car-based vehicles from the fabled SUV maker, the 2012 Jeep Patriot blends traditional Jeep styling with a compact-car chassis. As a result, the Patriot's ride, handling, step-in height and fuel economy are more akin to a car than an SUV.

Along with the Compass, the Patriot was the first Jeep available with front-wheel drive (FWD). Being a Jeep, two all-wheel-drive (AWD) systems are also offered. Freedom Drive I is a full-time active system that can be driven year-round. A lock mode for the center coupling provides extra traction in deep snow and sand. Freedom Drive II is a trail-rated off-road package with an extra inch of ground clearance for traversing steep terrain and fording water up to 19 inches deep. Skid plates, 17-inch all-terrain tires, tow hooks, hill-descent control, brake traction control and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are included.

The 5-door hatchback will carry five passengers (only four comfortably) and contains 23 cu ft. of cargo space, increasing to 54.2 cu ft. with the rear seat folded flat. For 2012, the top-of-the-line Latitude X model is replaced by the Limited. All 2012 Patriots with the CVT receive calibration updates to reduce noise and improve throttle response and smoothness.

What We Like

Decent fuel economy; traditional Jeep styling; choice of two AWD systems; Uconnect infotainment system; fold-down front passenger seat; standard stability control

What We Don't

Weak 2.0-liter engine; disconnected feel of the CVT; numb steering; no telescopic steering wheel; side airbags aren't standard

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2012 Patriot is available with a choice of two engines. Standard on FWD Limited models and all AWD versions is a 2.4-liter dual-overhead-camshaft 4-cylinder that produces 172 horsepower and 165 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated the FWD Patriot at 23 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with the 5-speed manual transmission and 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with the CVT. AWD models get 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with the 5-speed manual, 21 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with the CVT or 20 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with the combination of the CVT and Freedom Drive II package. All models use regular unleaded fuel.

Standard only on the Patriot Sport and Latitude with FWD is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder rated at 158 hp and 141 lb-ft of torque. This drivetrain combo is intended for buyers who won't venture off-road and are willing to trade acceleration for improved fuel economy. EPA estimates are 23 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with the CVT and 23 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with the 5-speed manual transmission. It also runs on unleaded regular fuel.

Standard Features & Options

The 2012 Jeep Patriot is available in Sport, Latitude and Limited trims.

The Sport trim comes standard with just the basics: cloth seats, a carpeted cargo-load floor, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, cruise control, a tilt (not telescopic) steering wheel, 205/70R16 all-season tires, a nifty rechargeable and removable cargo-area flashlight, a 60/40-split folding rear bench seat, 16-in steel wheels, fog lamps, deep-tinted sun-blocking rear glass, black-painted side roof rails, a rear-window wiper and manual windows, mirrors and door locks. Standard safety features include dual front airbags, overhead airbags, electronic roll mitigation, stability and traction control and 4-wheel anti-lock brakes. Popular Sport options include heated front seats, Bluetooth with voice command, 17-in alloy wheels and front-seat side airbags. Most Latitude features are available as options on Sport models.

Moving up to the Latitude trim adds air conditioning, 17-in alloy wheels, 215/60R17 all-season tires, a driver's-seat height adjuster, a fold-flat front passenger seat, heated front seats, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, remote starting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with remote audio controls, a 115-volt accessory outlet, remote keyless entry and power windows, mirrors and door locks. Popular Latitude options include a 6.5-in touchscreen infotainment system, SiriusXM radio, a cargo security cover, a HomeLink garage-door opener and a power moonroof.

The Limited trim brings the 2.4-liter engine, leather seat trim, automatic climate control, a power driver's seat with manual lumbar adjustment, a leather-wrapped hand-brake handle, a trip computer, a 6-disc CD/DVD changer, HD Radio, SiriusXM radio, map lights, bright roof rails with adjustable crossbars, bright bumper trim and 4-wheel disc brakes. Optional only on Limited is navigation and a 9-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system with two flip-down lift-gate speakers.

A 2,000-pound Trailer Tow package is only available on Latitude and Limited models. It includes a 2.4-liter engine, engine-oil cooler and a rear wiring harness.

A dealer-installed Wi-Fi hot-spot system is also available.


Seldom accepted by the traditional Jeep crowd, the Patriot doesn't enjoy the resale value of a Wrangler or Grand Cherokee. Therefore, previously owned examples can be used-car bargains, and since these are rarely taken off-road, they're less likely to be banged up from trail damage.

For a good idea of the prices of 2012 Jeep Patriots, check out the used-car values at You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2012 Jeep Patriot:

A software error may delay or cancel deployment of the side-curtain airbags and seat-belt pretensioners, increasing the risk of injury in a crash.

Some Patriots were built with a defective fuel-tank rollover valve, which may allow fuel to leak in a crash, creating a fire risk.

A manufacturing error may cause fuel flow to be interrupted from one side of the tank to the other, causing the engine to stall and increasing the risk of a crash.

Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, they'll fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA did not rate the crashworthiness of the 2012 Patriot.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2012 Patriot a Poor rating in the small-overlap front crash test and a Good rating for moderate-overlap front impacts, head restraints, seats and roof strength. As for side impacts, it rated the Patriot as Marginal without the optional seat-mounted side airbags but Good when equipped with that feature.

Chrysler Group covered the 2012 Patriot with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, including roadside assistance, a 5-year/100,000-mile corrosion-perforation warranty and 5 years/100,000 miles of powertrain coverage.

Jeep certified pre-owned cars cannot have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be 5 years old or less. Those that pass a 125-point inspection receive a 3-month/3,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, plus a 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from the car's original date of sale. Also included is a Carfax report, 24-hour roadside assistance, a car-rental allowance and a 3-month trial of SiriusXM radio.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Ford Escape -- This top-selling urban runabout is offered with a 171-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or a 240-hp 3.0-liter V6. There's also a hybrid version with an EPA rating of 34 mpg city. The Escape has carlike road manners and a roomy interior, plus optional Active Park Assist. Both FWD and AWD are offered.

2012 Subaru Forester -- All Forester models come with standard AWD and have a good reputation for all-weather traction and durability. The roomy crossover wagon is available with a regular-fuel 170-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or a premium-fuel 224-hp 2.5-liter turbo.

Autotrader's Advice

The Patriot has always been the red-haired stepchild of the Jeep lineup, shunned by loyalists, but it's a good all-around transportation buy with a lot of interior room for its size and decent fuel economy. Few were sold with the 5-speed manual, so make sure you extensively drive any model you're considering to determine that you're satisfied with the somewhat disconnected feel of the CVT. To ensure you have air conditioning, keyless entry and power windows, mirrors and door locks, look for a Latitude or a Sport with an upgrade package. Alternatively, because Patriots are such good used-car values, splurge and get a range-topping Limited with leather seats, auto air conditioning, SiriusXM radio and 4-wheel discs.

Always have a Carfax vehicle-history report done, and look for a Jeep that's seen obvious care, staying away from modified examples. Be sure to check with the dealer to make sure the Patriot you're looking at has had all safety-recall items addressed.

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Used 2012 Jeep Patriot 4WD Latitude
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Used 2012 Jeep Patriot Latitude
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2012 Jeep Patriot: Used Car Review - Autotrader