Jeep touts the Patriot with most of the options stripped out as the least expensive sport utility vehicle (SUV) on sale in the United States. Jeep recently sent us over one to review, and even though we liked the vehicle, we have some advice for people on why certain upgrades are worth paying for.
Dealerships inundate buyers with options that add up to a price significantly larger than the advertised price. For example, carbon ceramic brakes on the new BMW M4 are an $8,150 investment. The idea of skipping all the options appeals to people. Especially when it comes to infotainment, people skip the fancy stereos with navigation in favor of their existing smartphone with that functionality already built-in.
But you don’t always want to skimp on the stereo. Our no-frills Jeep Patriot review vehicle proves why.
The Patriot, a nice car to drive, had the much-needed Jeep DNA. The infotainment system, a color touch screen system with a USB port and an auxiliary in, had a button for Bluetooth and voice commands. But because the stripped down and cheaper Patriot didn’t have the required Bluetooth module installed it wouldn’t work. Even if we plugged an iPhone directly into the USB port it wouldn’t play back music. The system required the files to be in MP3 format instead of AAC that Apple and others use for their music stores.
Bluetooth really makes using a phone for infotainment while driving significantly easier. When playing music, the phone can remain in the driver’s pocket. The driver can still control volume from the steering wheel or stereo and also change to the next or previous track.
When using a phone for navigation, the driver can use a phone mount to put the device in clear view to make seeing the directions easy. Because of the Bluetooth connection, additional cables do not need to be strung across the dashboard to hook everything up. Plus, the audio runs through the speakers in the car, providing clear instructions from a big speaker.
In addition to the added benefits of Bluetooth audio for infotainment, Bluetooth also allows the driver to use a built-in speaker for hands-free calls. It sure beats fumbling for the phone while driving down the highway.
Some manufacturers include Bluetooth on all versions of their cars, like the Toyota Corolla we recently tested. To add Bluetooth and voice control to the Patriot, we would need to spend an additional $495. The standard, non-touch screen radio supports the Bluetooth module, so you do not need to order the $695 premium radio that our review unit had. We recommend going that route and actually saving $200.
We consider Bluetooth a requirement for all new cars on sale. It provides extra connectivity for a smartphone that makes driving easier and safer. You may come across a vehicle that you really like, but the infotainment system might lack what you need to play back the media you want. This is where Bluetooth saves the day. Any phone new or old will be compatible with the stereo if it supports Bluetooth.