August 28, 2007 > Jeep Liberty
My wife and I recently test drove a 2007 Limited 4x4 model Jeep Liberty. The Liberty, introduced in 2002, received an interior and exterior facelift in 2005. Jeeps have been manufactured since 1940 when Willies Overland started building them for the US government. Most stories credit the name Jeep as a slurring of the government's term "GP" which stood for General Purpose vehicle. Jeep's reputation for ruggedness and reliability was born during its World War II service. Now, Jeep is a division of DaimlerChrysler.
One of Jeep's legendary capabilities is its off-road performance. The Liberty and other Jeep models are "Trail Rated." This means they meet Jeep's high standards for traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation of the suspension, and water fording. For example, the Liberty uses cast iron suspension designed to withstand rock strikes. Serious off-roaders can spend an additional $195 for the "Skid Plate Group" option that adds protective plates to the underside of the transmission, transfer case, front suspension, and fuel tank. Tow hooks are also included.
Liberty comes with a 3.7-liter, V-6 engine. It develops 210 HP and 235 foot pounds of torque. You can get a 6-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission to drive just the rear wheels or a 4x4 package. Standard electronic features include an electronic stability program, traction control, and tire pressure monitoring. Four wheel disk ABS brakes are also standard across the Liberty model line.
We enjoyed our time with the Liberty. It was easy to drive and rode smoothly. The Liberty is easy to enter and exit and has great visibility.
On the downside, the engine was noisier than other cars on acceleration but while driving at a constant speed, it made no more noise than other cars of its class. The control stalks on the steering wheel had loose connections and seem very fragile; other controls seem well engineered.
When taller drivers put the front seats back, rear seat legroom is significantly reduced. Also, from an interior space standpoint, there isn't much space behind the two, upright back seats. The space is about the same as a medium-sized car's trunk.
There are three models with a number of option packages. Two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are available on each one. MSRP varies between $22,485 and $29,050. The Jeep website shows that there is a $3,500 discount on the entire Liberty model range, so you can get a two-wheel drive model for less than $19,000.
EPA mileage estimates for the Liberty vary depending on which transmission you want and the number of drive wheels. City numbers are in the 17 to18 mpg range and highway mileage ratings are 22 to 23 miles per gallon.
Jeep Liberty models are strong contenders in the mid-size SUV market. They offer stronger off-road capabilities than any other SUVs in this market segment and a good value for their owners.
By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists