It is hotter then hell out here in AZ and my Dad has been talking incessantly about a Jeep Wrangler, or a Jeep 4x4 of some kind. He said he'd like to go prospecting again or really off of the beaten path and off-roading more then we could do together in my Ridgeline. Today was my day off and on my drive home from one of my Doctor's offices takes me right by a Chrysler dealership. So, I stopped at the dealership. My Dad said he wanted just a short-wheelbase Wrangler that we (my Mom, Dad, and I) could all putter around in and go off-roading to places where there isn't a road. My Dad used to go prospecting, hunting and taking old four-wheel drive Fords, Chevys, Dodges, Internationals, and others to places most wouldn't dare go. But, he's always been wanting a Jeep. I looked at a short-wheelbase Wrangler Sahara (~24,000) 4WD and looked it over, asked questions, and asked to check access to the rear seat. Thankfully, I'm hypermobile and despite my back I can still touch my knees to my chin and put my legs behind my head. Yeah, it is a TIGHT fit to get in the back seat and it should be reserved for the more able and small children because of the tight leg room, too. The front is laid out intelligently and has the stereo up high and all controls laid out up ergonomically. But for my family it just wouldn't have worked because of the cramped rear seat. I then checked out and even test drove a four-door Wrangler (~28,000). I never thought I'd see those words together but it is a great little SUV. The materials were pretty good and the back seat had a bit less leg-room then my Ridgeline but still decent even with the driver's seat all the way back. The rear cargo area behind the seats was a pretty good size, but not the size of a pickup bed with a trunk. You could still pack your gear and have some fun and under the main cargo floor My Dad also asked about the Patriot awhile back. So did I. Wow. The Jeep Patriot is a very solid vehicle, decently priced (~24,800 as tested), and had a lot of similar features with my Ridgeline. It had the temperature display in the instrument gauge, a LCD vehicle status display (loved it) and more little nooks and crannies for storage then the larger Wrangler. Also, unlike my Ridgeline, the Patriot has a 4Lo mode and it's only limitation off-road is it's low ride height and IFS (Independent Front Suspension). That is fixable with an aftermarket lift kit. I'd say if you're looking for an affordable, decent, and well built off-road vehicle with on-road manners the Patriot looks to be a decent choice. In stock form it is built more for the occasional off-road driver who isn't looking for a challenge. If you add a decent lift-kit it is even more capable. But, for the price of that lift, why not get the equally well-built and off-road champion Wrangler? Well, after all of my research to help him, my Dad said (with his indecisive nature) he said he'd rather have an older Jeep that has already been the hell and back for him to beat up more and is cheap. Go figure.