Jeep Patriot salutes all-season value

Jeep Patriot is proudly built in Illinois at the Belvidere Assembly Plant.

Seventy-seven years ago this week our nation dedicated Veterans Day as a national holiday to celebrate the service of U.S. military veterans.

Since then, few vehicles have been more qualified to wear the Stars and Stripes than the American-built Jeep.

Born of necessity in World War II, the bantam Jeep 4X4 carved its mark into American history with the brand’s “go anywhere” capability that still holds a place in our nation’s Red, White and Blue loyalty.

The compact 2015 Jeep Patriot reflects that pride with home-spun value and purpose.

Base price for the front-wheel drive Jeep Patriot Sport with 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and 5-speed manual transmission costs $16,895 before freight.

The up-level four-wheel drive (4WD) Patriot Latitude and Limited models come equipped with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and start in the mid-$20,000.

An available six-speed automatic is offered across the Patriot lineup, while a continuously variable transmission is packaged with Jeep brand’s Freedom Drive II 4WD system.

Jeep Patriot with 4WD is a frisky player in all seasons with available Freedom Drive I drivetrain that includes a locking center differential for light off-road duty or slippery surface travel.

Patriot’s optional Freedom Drive II 4WD comes with a low range for more challenging off-road needs.

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Though not as boulder-bound as its Jeep Wrangler brethren, Patriot still takes five occupants over hill-and-dale through a Midwest winter with competent grip and stability.

Patriot’s tall boxy exterior frames useful cabin space with sensible leg and head room for four adults.

Cargo volume is plentiful with split-rear seats that flip forward to create a flat load floor.

Upfront, ergonomics are bold and refreshingly simple with dials and switch gear that can be managed at a glance.

I tested the Jeep Patriot Latitude 4WD and drove away impressed with its ease of maneuverability, ride quality and fuel economy.

City mileage checked in at 20 miles per gallon during my test. Highway driving reached 26 mpg.

Visibility is excellent throughout the passenger compartment. However, engine noise bleeds heavy into the cabin under hard acceleration.

The 2015 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4X4 gains traction in the marketplace starting at $24,795. Add $995 for freight.