By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.4
It was, as this is written, the best of times - and the worst of times. If you're a fan of Jeep, you know an all-new Grand Cherokee has been turnin' the showroom turnstiles. Also, the Jeep's Patriot and Compass have been recently massaged for their brief spot in the sunshine before a wholesale redesign - probably on a Fiat platform - takes place. That leaves only the Liberty, on sale in its current guise since the 2008 model year, needing the "amore" from the Chrysler/Fiat product team. Happily, the Liberty remains one of but a handful of compact SUVs possessing real off-road capability. The bad news: Jeep's Wrangler will do off-road far better, and Jeep's new Grand Cherokee - at least in Laredo trim - isn't a great deal more expensive.
If you enjoy the Jeep brand and its outdoorsy image, and appreciate a footprint easy to handle both at the mall and on the trail, the Liberty constitutes one of the better on-road/off-road compromises. And with two trail rated 4WD systems - Command-Trac II and Selec-Trac II - you can climb any mountain, ford any stream.
If you're looking for true off-road capability - boulder-hopping capability - the Jeep's limited ground clearance directs you to other choices, some of which are on the same showroom floor. And if you want true on-road composure (along with a modicum of efficiency), Jeep's Patriot and/or Compass probably cope with large expanses of asphalt more comfortably.
Most significantly, Jeep introduced the Liberty Jet at last fall's Los Angeles Auto Show. It marries the Liberty's upright, off-road posture with a decidedly urban street vibe. Beyond that addition, 2011 brings a series of minor tweaks: A new steering wheel with audio controls and three new media centers. And let's not forget new colors - Blackberry Pearl, Bright White Clear and Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl.
Driving Impressions The 2011 Jeep Liberty platform - shared (as noted) with the more urban-spec Dodge Nitro - is compromised off-road by relatively low ground clearance, and is marginalized on-road by a...conventional live axle in back, along with a relatively high center-of-gravity and wheezy V6. As a 4-door Jeep the Liberty - and the Cherokee before it - made far more sense when the Jeep lineup had only a 2-door Wrangler. Once the Wrangler's 4-door variant was introduced for the 2007 model year, all bets were off. Buyers have scrambled for the Wrangler, and left the Liberty to its own market-driven devices. Thankfully, Jeep hasn't fully abandoned the off-road enthusiast. A genuine off-road capability is maintained by its two 4-wheel drive systems, hill-descent control and hill-start assist, skid plates and reasonably short overhangs front and rear.
Sky Slider Full Open Roof
We wouldn't buy a Liberty without it, as the Sky Slider is arguably the most unique option in the Liberty's segment. When open you can let the sun shine in; with it closed you have a serene sense of quiet typically available only with a metal roof over your head. If the Wrangler ever evolves into a fully enclosed 4-door, it will need a Sky Slider to complete it.
Selec-Trac II Active Full-time 4WD
For under $500, Selec-Trac II upgrades the Liberty's standard 4WD to AWD, while still providing you boulder-hopping Jeepers with the necessary 4WD Lo. And with the Liberty's front:rear weight ratio biased toward the rear, so is Selec-Trac's torque split. You won't find that on a CR-V!
If the point of the Liberty's indoor environment is to get you to your favorite outdoor environment, it will do the job just fine. The greenhouse is expansive, but front seat passengers will be more comfortable than those relegated to the rear seat. And while the standard cloth has an appropriate amount of wipe-it-off functionality, we'd opt for the available leather in the Comfort Seating Group, comprising heated front seats, leather-trimmed buckets, memory package and power windows. Although many Chrysler products received a mid-cycle refresh, the Liberty wasn't one of them - and in the fourth year of its product cycle probably should have been. Storage is good, offering 25 cubic feet behind the rear seats and over 60 cubic feet with those rear seats folded.Exterior
The Liberty employs as many nostalgic styling cues as its platform - shared with the Dodge Nitro - allows. A commendably tall greenhouse and relatively vertical grille and windshield convey quite a bit of what we liked on the original Cherokee, but the overall result is a tad heavy-handed; whereas the Cherokee might have been formed with a scalpel, the Liberty's design team used an axe. It simply isn't very sophisticated in either its basic shape or execution. That said, we love the Sky Slider sunroof. Using cloth, and opening up a vast expanse of available sky, this is as close as you'll come to the open-air delights of VW's old Microbus or Citroen's 2CV. In a Jeep(!).
The Renegade, situated between the basic Sport and premium Limited, is targeted at the Jeep enthusiast with a very real desire to do at least some off-roading. With that, it boasts a bevy of standard off-road attributed, including skid plates, and tire-pressure monitoring, along with hill-start assist and hill-descent control. Additionally, the Renegade features unique color fender flares, fascia and headlamps. In the compact SUV segment (while weighing over 4,000 pounds) a standard V6 certainly isn't the norm, but the Liberty has one. And despite its very average (21 mpg) EPA rating on the highway, the Liberty's 19.5 gallon fuel tank provides acceptable range on-road and off.
For this model year three media centers are available; two include navigation, and one includes Sirius Traffic and Sirius Travel Link. Those going 4WD can enjoy the standard Command-Trac II, or opt for the Selec-Trac II, featuring full-time AWD, 4WD Lo and a rearward-biased torque split. And to commemorate Jeep's 70th anniversary, the Liberty receives an Anniversary Edition, featuring unique 18-inch wheels, badging, brightwork and Dark Olive with Chestnut accented leather seating. Select the Sky Slider sunroof and you'll open yourself to at least three possibilities: The moon, the sun and/or the stars. And the Sky Slider is available for a one-time charge of but $1,075, a figure entirely too cheap for its limitless potential.
Although many cars and trucks in the Chrysler lineup benefited from an all-new 3.6 liter V6, the Liberty isn't among them. Instead, it's saddled with a 3.7 liter V6 that - despite the benefits of an extra six cubic inches - develops just over 200 horsepower, while the 3.6 is delivering just over 300. If the Liberty weighed 3,000 pounds its horsepower deficiency could be kept in context; at a curb weight of just under 4,000 pounds (4X2) or over 4,000 pounds (4X4) the difficulty is compounded. And - of course - the situation isn't helped by Jeep offering but one transmission, a 4-speed automatic. We might overlook the underperforming V6 if it were offered with a manual transmission - but we said might.
210 horsepower at 5200 rpm
235 lb.-ft. of torque at 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 (2WD), 15/21 (4WD)
By kp on Wednesday, February 04, 2015
I owned and sold this caroverall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I had absolutely no problems with this vehicle. It was ordered with every valuable option available in April 2011. (wasn't a fan of the sky slider so i got the moon roof) Serviced only when required i.e. when the change oil warning prompted. (Use synthetic) Performed flawlessly in snow, icy and hot summer road conditions (got 4 michelin primacy mx4, REMARKABLE!). Didn't care much for 1. Gas mileage was City: 16mpg; Hwy: 22mpg ( The 3.7L eng mated to a 4speed trans seems to think its a V8 :) 2. Absence of a back up camera Buying points: 1. The Uconnect head unit was a trailblazer for the others that followed - very responsive. 2. Selec trac 4wd 3. Classic Style (reminiscent of original cherokee) 4. 5000lbs hitch 5. Premium wheels 18" 6. Remote start 7. Climate control I was reluctant to sell but needed a truck."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Chris on Wednesday, January 07, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 69,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "good 4x4?"
Cons: "lack of company required recall"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Everything else you can figure out with some test drives, photos, and generic reviews... what Jeep refuses to announce is that the Sky Slider roof has a severe design flaw which basically guarantees the roof will mechanically fail and either be stuck open or stuck shut destroying the value of the vehicle and making it basically impossible to drive. And since it's a hundreds for a mechanic just to look at it and a LOT more to fix sticking you with a monthly bill for the life of your loan on a vehicle that you'll be unable to sell without throwing thousands of your own money into the mix"
8 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Doug on Tuesday, January 06, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great to drive in the back woods. Fun fun fun."
Cons: "Bad gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"This is my second jeep liberty and performance is great. My only complaint is the gas mileage. It's built to withstand the toughest of conditions."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By GP on Tuesday, November 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks, Comfort, Quiet ride, Great Price, Drive"
Cons: "Gas Mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Wish Jeep still made this Style. The only downfall with the 6cyl is mileage per gallon about 19 on highway. Other then that I LOVE THIS CAR"
2 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Scott on Sunday, November 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "The price was fair , I feel safe in it"
Cons: "could use a little more headroom"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my second Jeep and it handles amazingly. Driving in snow and ice, it is truly awesome. I don't slide going stoping or even turning. When I bought it I new it's fuel mileage was going to around 18 to 22 mpg. It's the trade off you have to accept for power and safety. No it doesn't ride like a Lincoln, but it's comfortable for where it can go. Will I buy another, absolutely yes."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By B.D. on Saturday, November 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"It will go nearly anywhere in nearly any type of weather. Those who complain about the 21 mpg should try driving a Prius in the woods. Haven't had a problem with the vehicle since new (almost 4 years ago). Jeeps are the only way to go in northern Wisconsin."
7 people out of 13 found this review helpful