Just for your info the Nitro's twin is the Jeep Liberty but without the offroading gear, not the car based Patroit.
It all depends on what you are looking for. As for price for AWD, the Journey is pricey, at a base price of $27,145 for the AWD version. And in that version, their is no need for driver input, it's always on.
The Nitro's is cheaper for a 4x4 at a base price of $24,645, but requires the input from the driver to engage the 4wd system. And it can not be used on dry pavement since it's a part time system only.
If you are into more offroading, then I would spend $1K more for the Liberty with the right off-roading gear.
The Jeep Patroit is is the cheapest of the AWD(Jeep still calls it a 4wd even though it always in 4wd mode like the Journey) groups. And it is a no driver input system. At a base price of $19,920. For for a few thousand more you can have a "Trail Rated" version that has a 4wd low lock system built into the AWD system for better off-roading.
Here's a review of the Trail Rated version, it seems pretty good for a car base SUV:
Jeep Patriot Review Off Road Test
If I was looking for a low priced AWD car, that has some off-roading gear built in, I'd go for the Patroit.
And the next step would be the Liberty, since I think if your going to spend the money for the Nitro, you should get everthing else that they took out it.
As for the Journey, it's a over priced wagon. IMO
Edit: Both Jeep Liberty 4wd system's are also part-time 4wd system's.