They can be a big deal depending on your terrain. If you need the "rock crawler" ratio of the FDII to get up some steep hills, over boulders, logs, ect then definitely get it. If your trips will be some what gentler then the FDI can handle most
situations. The hill descent control of the FDII is a big plus in you have some steep down grades but you'll have 4 wheel disc brakes on the FDI. Skid plates, tow hooks and some decent tires are a must if you going to do anything at all. Some MK FDI owners got hooked on off roading and moved on up to Wranglers and Libertys. It depends on what your satisfaction level is.
Don't bother thinking about converting to an FDII from and FDI. Outside of buying and installing the pieces you won't have the proper VIN code to enable all of the goodies. I hate to be a spoil sport on that but it's more than just some simple parts swaps.
The Patriot FDII is probably the BEST small, inexpensive, impressively capable SUV that you can buy.
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