By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
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 Katie (CA) on Saturday, May 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable and reliable"
Cons: "The cup holders are too big"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I purchased a 2012 Jeep Liberty 4x4 with the Lattitude package 9 months ago. So far it's been a very good suv. The four wheel drive is excellent. I've gone through some really deep snow with ease. I've also been able to tow a fairly large trailer quite easily. I have the leather interior and it's very comfortable. I haven't had any issues at all. I've perfprmed 2 oil changes and rotated my tires once. The only thing I can even think to complain about is the cup holders are too big for most drinks. Overall I would buy another Jeep in a heartbeat."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By GR (OK) on Tuesday, May 07, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliability, exterior look, feels good driving it"
Cons: "back-seat comfort, MPG"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"First, I want to it to be clear that I got an excellent deal on my white Liberty Latitude Edition. I am happy with it, and proud to drive it. BUT, I highly regret not spending a bit more to get the 4x4 version. If you're considering the Liberty, either get the 4x4 version or get a different vehicle entirely. What's the point of getting a heavy SUV that only gets about 16mpg in the city if you aren't going to have the benefit of getting to drive it in mud and snow when you need/want to? Sure, with the decent ground clearance I can drive in heavy rain and deep water just fine in my RWD Latitude, but you won't see me driving around in heavy snow (like I occasionally need to where I live). I like its overall exterior look. I'm a fan of the military-style Jeep look, and I like the look of the chrome accents and wheels (standard with the Latitude) on the white paint. It's a classy-looking SUV that I'm proud to drive, but like I said, I'm kicking myself for not getting the more capable 4X4 version. The interior is acceptable but nothing to brag about. It's straightforward. Black leather seats, the front two are heated. Retractable sun roof is pretty cool. Boring radio/CD interface. I'm not a showy person, so I was fine with the modesty of the interior. Back-seat ride is pretty bumpy, and there are no air vents for back-seat passengers. However, they do fold completely flat and leave you with quite a bit of room to haul stuff inside. I haven't towed anything with my Liberty yet, but I plan to. From the research I've done, it shouldn't be a problem pulling modestly heavy trailers. The Tow/Haul button comes standard and keeps you in lower gears longer to pull the extra weight. Last but not least, critics say the Liberty motor is dated and "behind the times" because its big V6 isn't putting out enough horsepower compared to the competition. What they usually fail to mention is the reliability that comes with buying a vehicle with an engine that has been in production for several years. You know what you're getting with this motor. (And while on the topic of reliability, being a Jeep means there's quality Mopar products scattered throughout the vehicle.)"
By jk (NY) on Tuesday, April 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive"
Cons: "bad day to day mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"It's a shame that a US car shows 10mpg in day to day city driving. On the parkway it does a respectable 21mpg. I've used this to tow a medium sized, 4000lb RV trailer, and it did very well."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Lynne B (NY) on Monday, March 25, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 91,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is the 4th Jeep I've owned. They are great vehicles, reliable, dependable and fun to drive. Lots of zip and they handle well. Also, they are great in the snow. I have run all of my Jeeps to well over 100K miles, a couple to over 200K. They required very little repairs, only the obvious wear items like brakes, exhaust, tires and later on suspension parts but again, that was wear-items. I will probably always drive Jeeps. Great car for a good price."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Bubba (MA) on Sunday, March 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "for new 4x4 under $25,000 can't beat"
Cons: "Gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Owned since new, good power, handles right for type of vehicle, wish gas mileage was better, sky slider has minor leaks during heavy rains (about 3 times), overall good value for the price, next vehicle will be Sahara, more money but resale is better"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Lobodog (MA) on Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "It's a Jeep!! A good value with a long time name."
Cons: "Poor gas mileage especially about town is all."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Very good value for money spent excellent (real!) 4WD, off road seems superior to others in class and a perfect size. Engine runs purrfect but not good gas mileage by todays stasndards. This is my wifes Jeep and she loves it! Plenty of room for her 3 dogs and despite the fuel cost it really does the job for her, she loves it. Of course with us if it says "Jeep" it rules anyway and it's tough!! It's a shame Jeep has decided to drop it...I think it'll be back... let's watch."
11 people out of 11 found this review helpful