You seem to have 2 threads going on the same topic. I just posted this in your other thread:
My Patriot has 214,000 miles so I'm one of the senior Patriot drivers -- well, no I'm not a senior, my Patriot is . . . though I am a little gray around the fringes. So far its been great on repairs: very few and what there were have been modest and consistent with the mileage.
I've had two major repairs:
1) My CVT transmission was replaced (at 110,000 miles) under warranty so it didn't cost me a dime. I've read that statistically the CVT has a better repair record than conventional automatics.
2) At 195,000 I had a wiring problem that meant I had to have the engine harness replaced. That was about $1200.
Considering that many miles, that is an admirable repair record. I've had some front-end work, but I still have a lot of original parts up there too. I'm still on the original shocks, struts and springs, and living in New England I travel on roads with lots of frost heaves and pot holes, so I think the suspension is rock solid.
I've had no engine work, my original brakes lasted to about 100,000 and at 214,000 I'm still on my first set of replacements, so they have outlasted the originals. (I've never gotten more than 70,000 out of brakes prior to this). No rust, no leaks, original exhaust.
The important thing for me is its ability to handle snow. My town doesn't plow between 11PM and 5AM and I leave for work at 4AM -- my Patriot is FWD and I've always gotten through, and a few times I was approaching its limits. With good snow tires 6-7" of snow is doable, and I live in hilly terrain, but not really mountainous. I've had at least one off-road trip that was more than I should have attempted, but my Patriot got me through safe and sound. I posted my adventure in the 2wd forum.
While I've not had the problems, some Patriots go through ball joints rather quickly and some Patriots leak when it rains, particularly those with sunroofs. Maybe Jeep has addressed this in the newer models.
Yes there are different ride heights depending on the model, but we're only talking an inch or two. We have 2 Patriots and our 2014 is 1" taller than the 2008.
Have they improved over the years? As said, mine is a 2008 and Wifey's is a 2014. Her 2014 is nicer inside -- the interior was a complaint about the early years.
In conclusion, not only would I recommend the Patriot, I put my money where my mouth is and bought another (2014) for my wife. Oh yeah, the Patriot's strong suit is fuel economy. My 2008 has the 2.4 CVT and is never below 26mpg and on a trip can put out 30+mpg. Wifey's 2014 is a 2.0 with a 5-spd and is consistently higher. Both are FWD, so with AWD you will likely be lower. Her's just got a new set of plugs and the last three fill-ups averaged 34mpg (almost all highway). You may find the 2.0 needs its lower gears if you live in the mountains, but on the level it zips right along.