By KBB.com Editors
Die-hard Jeep fans may have worried that the new 2008 Jeep Liberty would go soft in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience, but that hasn't happened. In many ways the latest Jeep Liberty is more civilized, thanks to a long list of features, improved ride and handling and better fuel economy. At the same time, a pair of very capable four-wheel drive systems, a highly functional interior and more rugged styling show that the Liberty retains its off-road roots. While it's difficult to meet the various needs of modern SUV buyers, Jeep fans can rest easy knowing the redesigned Liberty still embodies all that the Jeep brand has come to represent.You'll Like This Car If...
You'll like the Jeep Liberty if you want a mid-size SUV with rugged good looks, room for five and go-anywhere off-road capabilities. Plus, the Sky Slider Roof lets you have open air fun without the added noise and security concerns of owning a soft-top Jeep Wrangler.You May Not Like This Car If...
You may not like the Jeep Liberty if you don't plan to venture away from paved roads. By focusing strictly on on-road handling, many newer crossover SUVs offer more comfort and efficiency than the Liberty while still offering SUV roominess.What's New for 2008
After a thorough restyling, the 2008 Jeep Liberty re-emerges with a more squared-off appearance and a host of appealing features. A new four-wheel-drive system, optional retractable fabric roof, redesigned suspension and available MyGIG multimedia infotainment system make the new Liberty a more appealing vehicle than the one it replaces.Driving It Driving Impressions
The 2008 Jeep Liberty must contend with both on- and off-road driving situations and it manages to perform admirably in both. At freeway speeds, the all-new suspension provides a smooth and quiet ride, yet on winding roads the steering is responsive and body lean is well controlled. However, it is away from paved roads where the Jeep Liberty really shines, with two highly capable four-wheel drive systems, All-speed Traction Control, Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist and anti-lock brakes with rough road detection giving the Liberty truly impressive off-road credentials. The Liberty's V6 provides plenty of power for tackling demanding trails, but on the open road it feels lethargic, requiring frequent downshifts to maintain speed when traveling uphill.Favorite Features
Sky Slider Roof
Opening the optional Sky Slider Roof lets the sun shine in and the breeze waft around the cabin, yet with the soft-top closed interior noise is on par with the standard metal-roof Jeep Liberty.
MyGIG Multimedia Infotainment System
Combining a hands-free phone system, voice-recognition, digital music storage, GPS navigation and real-time traffic information, the Liberty's MyGIG option offers lots of information, communication and entertainment resources in one easy-to-use device.
The interior of the 2008 Jeep Liberty offers the clean, functional simplicity one expects from a Jeep. From the perspective of off-road enthusiasts, the Liberty's easy-to-clean, hard plastic interior is ideal, but those who enjoy a bit of panache from a vehicle's interior may be disappointed. Head room is good in all seating positions; however, with the front seats adjusted for normal-sized adults, rear-seat leg room can be tight. Cargo space behind the second row is good, but those needing more space will appreciate standard 60/40 flat-folding rear seats and the optional folding front-passenger seat.Exterior
The previous Jeep Liberty had a more rounded appearance. However, for 2008 the Liberty reverts to the squared look of the original Jeep Cherokee while also presenting a modern take on classic Jeep styling cues. A box-like profile and prominent fender flairs create a solid purposeful stance, while its signature seven-slot grille and hexagonal headlamps with round lighting elements give the Liberty a face that looks distinctly Jeep. In back, the spare tire has been moved beneath the vehicle, allowing for a new tailgate with flip-up rear glass.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2008 Jeep Liberty is offered in two trims: Sport and Limited. The standard equipment list for the base Sport trim includes air conditioning, body-colored bumpers and fender flares, MP3-capable CD player with auxiliary audio input jack and power windows, mirrors and door locks. The Limited Edition Liberty adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, YES Essentials stain-resistant seat fabric, premium Infinity speakers with subwoofer and 368-watt amplifier, chrome exterior accents and steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls. Standard safety features for both trims include anti-lock brakes, stability control with roll-over mitigation, traction control, front airbags and two-row side-curtain airbags.Notable Optional Equipment
There are several option packages available to further outfit the Jeep Liberty, including the Sport trim's Popular Equipment Group, which features a six-speaker stereo, fold-flat front passenger seat, fog lamps, cruise control, tinted glass and a two-pronged power outlet. Available for the Limited Edition Liberty is Premium Group 1, which adds leather-trimmed heated seats, remote start and memory functions; and Premium Group 2, which adds automatic climate control, rear park assist, 18-inch wheels and rain-sensing wipers. A tow package with Class-III hitch, seven-pin wiring harness and trailer sway control can be added to either trim.Under the Hood
The 2008 Jeep Liberty is powered by a 3.7-liter V6. It offers plenty of power when tackling rough trails but the on-road acceleration is underwhelming. The Limited Edition Liberty features a standard four-speed automatic transmission, which is also available as a replacement for the Sport trim's standard six-speed manual transmission. The Liberty is offered with a choice of Command-Trac II part-time four-wheel drive or Selec-Trac II full-time four-wheel drive. Both systems include a low-speed transfer case which multiplies engine torque to help traverse challenging terrain at very low speeds.
210 horsepower at 5200 rpm
235 lb.-ft. of torque at 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22, 15/21 (4WD w/ automatic)
Pricing for the 2008 Jeep Liberty starts under $21,000, with four-wheel drive adding about $1,600. At its most expensive, the price of a heavily optioned Jeep Liberty can approach $32,000. To compare the actual transaction prices that consumers are paying, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price. Residual values for the Jeep Liberty are expected to trail all of its key competitors, including the Nissan Xterra, Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.