If you've had older Jeeps and if you get lake effect snow in Michigan like we do in upstate NY, then you may be surprised to learn that you may need to buy 4 snow tires for the Patriot. We've had 5 Jeeps and never bought snow tires. We now have a Patriot with the Freedom Drive II off-road package and had to buy 4 brand-new Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter tires because the Wranglers don't work well on this vehicle. It now handles ALMOST as well as a Liberty or the old Cherokees. You may also be surprised to learn that a Patriot with Freedom Drive II gets nearly the same mileage as a Liberty with a 3.7 litre V6. We get 17-20MPG with the 4 cylinder.
I like the Patriot, but it's just not like the old Jeeps when there's about a foot of snow out there. We only get about 200 miles on a tank of gas, so sometimes we really miss the old Jeeps. However, the 2011 Patriot is very reliable. I do all the maintenance myself and we've never taken it back to the dealer for anything.
By the way, the Freedom Drive II package includes the oil cooler and the trailer wiring harness.
I just got a '14 Patriot Latitude FDII on Saturday. This is my 12th Jeep and just traded in a ZJ 5.9. While the new Patriot has no where near the "get up and go" of a big v8 like the ZJ had, it's not that bad for a 4cyl, small SUV. I parked my ZJ beside the Patriot and the wheel base is almost the exact same and overall, the Patriot is shorter in the rear, which explains the smallish cargo area. For my purposes as a daily driver, hauling my 2 kids and the occasional off road excursion, it seems to be a good choice. Would've liked a JKU Rubicon, but the bank account told me no... It'll be nice not to be at the gas station as often and not listen to the clunks, creaks and moans of my old Jeep.
I'm in the same locale as you, march, and my wife's 2014 Patriot Latitude with 6spd. and stock 215/60-17 Firestone Affinity tires (less than 5K miles) has been unstoppable here this winter. I have no prior Jeep experience to compare to though.
I ordered my 2014 Latitude FDII at the end of February and it is due to be delivered 03 April. I plan to keep the Wranglers on through next winter. My wife's Patriot has proven to be incredible this winter such that I have given up shoveling our 125' steeply inclined driveway! I will be getting dedicated winter wheels and tires for my wife's Pat for next winter, however, probably 215/65-17 Michelin X-Ice3 or 225/65-17 Blizzaks, as I hear the Affinity is not so good after a few thousand miles and she will be doing longer commutes between here and Hamilton, NY. The winter after that, I may join her with a dedicated winter wheel/tire setup, probably Blizzaks as well.
OP, my wife was skeptical about the Pat after reading the BS tripe some "reports" put out, often just repeating tired old reviews from the early Pat days, but after driving it, she absolutely loves it with our family of four, two little ones safely and comfortably in the back seat, in a region that tops the Golden Snowball city charts each year.
I have a 14 pat limited. Very roomy and comfortable, my only complaint is not enough grunt on the low end. The 2.4 doesn't start making any real power until about 3500 rpm so it feels a little sluggish on takeoff. Other than that it's a great rig.
I'll use the autostick for a quicker take off.
On a side note I'm taking my '13 Pat Lat to a dealer tomorrow to attempt to get to the bottom of my rear and front creaks. It sounds to me like suspension issues but I can't tell if I got bum shocks or struts. Disappointing to say the least after 11 months.