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 BoggyWoggy on Monday, March 16, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "You get exactly what you pay for!"
Cons: "You get exactly what you pay for!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought this car to keep me safe going over snowy mountain passes during winter in Oregon. Heavy vehicle! Makes me worry about what would happen to "the other guy," should an accident occur. Definitely NOT eco-friendly, as it usually gets around 14.1 MPG. An "eco" light appears when the rig is driving more economically, which means my foot is off the gas or I am at a maintained speed, even if going 75-80 mph! Ridiculous! Extremely comfortable interior, especially the heated leather seats! Great looking, although quite "chunky," yet a bumper sticker I once saw on a Jeep applies: "Aerodynamics are overrated!" Ha, ha!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By bugs on Friday, March 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "handles easily, agility & turning radius excellent"
Cons: "mpg not the best"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased this vehicle new. It is still tight and the ride still makes me feel secure in all types of weather. Unlike my previous vehicles, my Jeep does not hydroplane in heavy rains. The torque from this six cylinder still amazes me and has no problem with pulling a boat trailer out of the landing (I've seen the big boys embarrassed look when their V8's struggle to do what my Jeep so easily does). I am pretty confident that the longevity of my Jeep will easily surpass any of the previous vehicles I have owned, domestic and or foreign. My Jeep is just as comfortable with in town driving as it is with cruising 80 mph on the freeway. It hugs the road, no vibrations, wind noise, and handles just as comfortably at 80 as at 40 mph. My Jeep is without a doubt the best vehicle I have ever owned."
By Came back-hope it was the right move on Tuesday, March 10, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good visiblity, solid, quiet ride, comfortable"
Cons: "Gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I owned a 2002 Liberty and traded it in 2013 on a 2014 Mazda CX5. The Mazda had 27 MPG and handled well on the road. But, was not comfortable, had lots of road noise and other features that weren't up to par. I found a 2012 Liberty with low miles and I hope it proves to be as good as my 2002. The Jeep is solid, quiet on the road, handles well, seats are more comfortable than the Mazda and the sound system is much better in the Bose in the Mazda. The Jeep is also easier to see out of so that makes it safer on the road, you are less likely to not see a car coming! The only real tradeoff is MPG. I also like that the Jeep is 4WD not AWD. I like feeling my 4WD engage. If I love it as much as I loved my 2002, I'll be a very happy purchaser!"
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."
5 people out of 8 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 14 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 5 found this review helpful