Is the Jeep Patriot Good for Off-Roading? Yes, with Right Setup

jeep patriot off road capability

The Jeep Patriot is often overlooked and underrated as a capable off-road SUV. But make no mistake – with available features like two advanced 4WD systems, generous ground clearance, and impressive approach angles, the compact Patriot can confidently tackle dirt trails and obstacle courses beyond what you’d expect.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Jeep Patriot’s impressive off-road credentials, including its:

  • Capable 4WD systems and drivetrain specs optimized for off-roading
  • Immense ground clearance thanks to available suspensions
  • Excellent approach, departure, and breakover angles that allow tackling steep obstacles
  • Essential aftermarket upgrades like lift kits and aggressive tires to maximize capability
  • Specific off-road trails rated easy to moderate that the Patriot can dominate

After reading, you’ll have no doubts about the Patriot’s prowess thanks to its rugged engineering pedigree. Let’s hit the trails!

An Overview of the Jeep Patriot’s Off-Road Capability and Specs

The Patriot delivers robust off-road performance thanks to several key mechanical specs and available features inherited from the legendary Jeep brand. Here’s a high-level overview:

4WD Systems

Freedom Drive I and Freedom Drive II with low range gearing provide exceptional traction and control on dirt, mud, steep hills, and loose surfaces like gravel or sand. The Patriot’s 4WD lock mode gives added traction in slippery conditions.

Ground Clearance

With up to 8.7 inches of ground clearance when properly equipped, the Patriot can clear obstacles, rocks, and uneven terrain that leave other compact crossovers high and dry.

Approach, Departure, and Breakover Angles

Thanks to short front and rear overhangs, the Patriot has impressive approach and departure angles allowing it to tackle steep inclines without scraping its bumpers. Its breakover angle also enables cresting a ridge without high-centering.

Skid Plates

Factory installed skid plates protect vital mechanical components like the radiator, transmission, and gas tank from obstacles on the trail.

Traction Control

Advanced electronics including hill descent control and traction management help maintain grip and control on unstable surfaces.

Now let’s explore each of these off-road attributes and technologies in more detail.

Freedom Drive I and Freedom Drive II – The Patriot’s Capable 4WD Systems

Unlike many crossovers with basic all-wheel drive oriented for on-road driving, the Patriot comes equipped with two highly capable four-wheel drive systems engineered for off-highway performance – Freedom Drive I and Freedom Drive II.

Freedom Drive I

This innovative active full-time 4WD system provides a constant flow of torque to all four wheels, eliminating the need to switch drive modes. It’s optimal for maintaining control and grip across unpredictable off-road conditions like mud, dirt, gravel, sand, or snow where traction can be compromised.

Freedom Drive I also has a lock mode that can direct up to 50% of engine torque to the rear wheels for added traction in slippery conditions. The driver can activate lock mode at the flip of a switch.

With Freedom Drive I, Patriot owners gain peace of mind knowing their compact SUV has sure-footed traction ready for dirt roads and mild to moderate trails, all while providing efficient on-road manners.

Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package

Drivers wanting maximum off-road performance can upgrade to the Freedom Drive II Off-Road package. Building on Freedom Drive I, Freedom Drive II adds:

  • A lower geared 19:1 crawl ratio for optimizing torque at low speeds on demanding terrain
  • All terrain tires for increased traction on loose ground
  • A 1 inch suspension lift for more ground clearance
  • Hill descent control and hill start assist for steep inclines
  • Underbody skid plates for protection from debris and obstacles

The system also uses Brake Traction Control to brake slipping wheels and direct torque to wheels with grip for optimal traction. Freedom Drive II transforms the Patriot into a mini rock crawler.

In addition to the 4WD systems, the Patriot has other drivetrain and chassis advantages for off-roading including:

  • 7.9 inches of minimum ground clearance
  • Short front and rear overhangs for clearance on steep terrain
  • Gas-charged shocks and front and rear anti-sway bars for suspension dampening

Make no mistake, the Patriot’s drivetrain and suspension deliver legitimate off-road credentials thanks to smart Jeep engineering.

Massive Ground Clearance Conquers Uneven Terrain

Another essential metric for off-road prowess is ground clearance – the space between the ground and the lowesthanging part of the vehicle like the axles or exhaust. The more ground clearance, the bigger rocks, logs, and ruts a vehicle can traverse without getting stuck.

Here too the Jeep Patriot excels versus other compact crossovers. When outfitted with Freedom Drive II, the Patriot boasts a remarkable 8.7 inches of ground clearance thanks to its raised suspension.

That beats almost every vehicle in its class. For comparison, here’s how the Patriot stacks up:

  • Subaru Crosstrek: 8.7 inches
  • Toyota RAV4: 8.6 inches
  • Honda CR-V: 8 inches
  • Ford Escape: 7.9 inches

With nearly 9 inches of clearance, the Jeep Patriot can crest rocks, clear fallen logs, and plow through mud or sand without smashing its undercarriage. Owners will have confidence tackling rugged trails knowing their Patriot has clearance to spare.

Steep Approach, Breakover, and Departure Angles

In addition to ground clearance, optimal off-road geometry requires excellent approach, breakover, and departure angles. This allows a vehicle to ascend and descend steep hills and obstacles without either bumper dragging or the undercarriage getting caught.

Here’s how the Jeep Patriot’s angles measure up equipped with Freedom Drive II:

  • Approach angle: 28 – 29.6 degrees
  • Breakover angle: 19 – 24 degrees
  • Departure angle: 28 – 34 degrees

These impressive angles give the Patriot an advantage driving up and down inclines, cresting a hill without high centering, and clearing its rear over obstacles. Short front and rear overhangs are key to enabling such steep approach and departure angles.

For example, the Patriot can tackle the famously technical Stepladder trail in California which requires methodically ascending and descending steep rock steps one tire at a time. Its geometry gives it an edge.

Skid Plates Shield Vital Components from Trail Damage

Driving off-road inevitably means colliding with rocks, trees, logs, and debris that can smash into the Patriot’s delicate underbody components. Fortunately, Jeep equips factory skid plates to protect critical systems including:

  • Fuel tank – Shields the gas tank from puncture or impact damage.
  • Transfer case – Prevents damage to the 4WD transfer case and drive shafts from obstacles.
  • Front suspension – Covers suspension and steering components from hard knocks.
  • Engine oil pan / Transmission – Steel plates protect the fragile oil pan and transmission pan and axles from dents, cracks, or leaks.

These armored skid plates are a must-have for confident off-roading. They allow sliding over rocks and logs without worrying about puncturing or crushing crucial mechanical parts. All Patriot models with Freedom Drive II feature skid plating.

Advanced Electronics Enhance Traction and Control

Modern vehicle electronics like traction and stability control play a crucial role in maintaining grip and control across uncertain off-road terrain. The Patriot comes equipped with an array of electronics to aid off-highway traction.

Hill Descent Control

When pointed down a steep, slippery slope, hill descent control automatically maintains a steady low speed without rider input, preventing dangerous acceleration. It’s a valuable aid for descents.

Hill Start Assist

Hill start assist briefly holds the brake pressure so the Patriot doesn’t roll backward when starting on an incline. This allows smooth launches uphill.

Traction Control

Sensing wheel slip, traction control brakes the spinning wheel(s) while sending torque to wheels with grip. This prevents digging holes in mud or gravel.

Electronic Stability Control

ESC detects vehicle oversteer or understeer and applies individual brakes to stabilize the compact SUV and keep it on the chosen path.

These electronics combined with the Patriot’s robust drivetrain give owners confidence to explore off the beaten path knowing the Jeep has their back.

Essential Aftermarket Upgrades to Maximize Off-Road Capability

The Patriot’s impressive off-road credentials can be amplified even further with targeted aftermarket upgrades. Here are the top mods and accessories to transform your Patriot into a trail crushing machine:

Lift Kits Increase Clearance and Improve Approach Angle

Adding a 2-3 inch lift kit increases the Patriot’s ground clearance, improves its approach angle for steep inclines, and allows running larger diameter tires. It’s one of the most impactful upgrades.

Dobinsons and Rocky Road make excellent lift kits for the Patriot engineered to work with the Freedom Drive II suspension and drivetrain. Install is straightforward bolting on revised strut extensions and shocks.

With a lift, owners should recalibrate sensors so safety systems work properly. A lift also strains CV axles so upgrading to heavy duty axles prevents failure.

Aggressive All-Terrain Tires Boost Traction

Swapping factory road tires for aggressive all-terrain tires significantly improves traction on dirt, gravel, mud, and rocks. The deep open treads provide grip when aired down off-road.

Top all-terrain choices like the BFGoodrich KO2 or Falken WildPeak A/T3W balance trail traction and quiet on-road manners. A lift kit allows running larger 275/75 or 285/75 tires for monster traction.

Rock Sliders Prevent Body Damage

Standard on Freedom Drive II packages, rock sliders protect the Patriot’s vulnerable sides from trail damage. Made from steel or aluminum, they prevent the body from impacting obstacles and allow sliding over rocks, ruts, and logs.

Rock sliders bolt to the body providing expanded coverage beyond factory side steps. They’re invaluable armor against trail damage.

Skid Plates Shield Exposed Components

Aftermarket skid plates from Rugged Ridge and others provide supplementary underbody protection for components not covered by factory plates.

Add-on skid plates are available for steering gear, differentials, transmission cross member, fuel tank and more. They prevent smash ups to these crucial parts.

Best Off-Road Trails Rated Easy to Moderate for the Patriot

A properly equipped Jeep Patriot can confidently tackle dozens of iconic off-road trails across the US thanks to its credentials. Here are some top trails rated easy to moderate perfect for the Patriot:

Holcomb Creek, Missouri

Located in Mark Twain National Forest, this scenic trail features gravel and dirt surfaces alongside glades and water crossings. Mild inclines and rocky areas test the Patriot’s 4WD and ground clearance.

Coyote Gulch, Utah

This technical trail in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument requires 4WD to conquer deep sugar sand and gulches. Perfect for testing the Patriot’s traction and approach angles.

Fins and Things, Utah

A popular Utah trail with a variety of terrain like sand, slickrock, and ledges. Hard packed sandy parts offer fun driving while taking in gorgeous sandstone scenery.

Stepladder, California

This challenging trail forces tight uphill switchback turns and requires methodically cresting large steps of slickrock. Driving skills and approach angles are tested.

Conquering More Than You Thought in a Compact Package

While the Jeep Patriot is best suited to intermediate trails, its stellar off-road engineering enables far more capability than the typical compact crossover. With robust 4WD, ample clearance, and protective skid plating, the Patriot delivers legitimate off-road credentials.

And when equipped with targeted upgrades like a lift kit, all-terrain tires, and rock sliders, your Patriot will confidently conquer miles of exciting trails well beyond expectations. The Patriot’s impressive geometry, grip, clearance, and protection let owners explore the path less traveled.

So don’t underestimate the mighty off-road potential of the Jeep Patriot. When properly equipped, it packs compact performance that can traverse, climb, and crawl places few in its class dare tread thanks to smart Jeep design. The Patriot keeps up with the Wranglers – something most other crossovers can only dream of.

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