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 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."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Ed on Saturday, October 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Price as a leftover"
Cons: "Too many minor issues, and no updates on the dash"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"I take car of all my cars for exception of all my fishing stuff I keep in the rear, but otherwise keep up with all service needs as required. But I got really annoyed at the little things that began to go wrong after only a few years. For example, the rear brak cover plastic started to get water in it eventually shorting out the brak light on one side, the lighter holder kept falling out of the dash almost immediately after plugging my phone into occassionally. The door window seals must Hve allowed window to leak wter causing window to slide down no longer operable by the electric window motor. That cost about $700 to fix which required n entire door assembly. The in bord computer went just under 60,000 miles. Expensive to fix. One of the brake locked up causing the wheel rotors nd lol other parts of the wheel to be replaced again t round 56,000 (just after warranty...go figure). Though I like th way the jeep handles in snow in 4 wheel drive, and I. Various rugged conditions, I'm not sure I'd buy another one despite their reputation. Too many Nicole and dime service issues."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By FinsFan69 on Saturday, October 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Pretty vehicle"
Cons: "Minor problems often, with very poor gas mileage."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Bought this Jeep Liberty brand new. Off the lot its a nice SUV. Mileage is another thing. I gave it some time as suggested waiting for the mileage to even out. Off the lot and ever since it averages about 17 mpg. Very bad for this type of vehicle. There is nothing dynamic about the vehicle to cause such low gas mileage. It is well maintained and nice. I have had issues such as the following. When I started the vehicle, the windshield wipers would automatically come on. The seats seem to be coming unstable, after just 2 short years of driving. The heater along the floor went out, but still worked through the vents. Although, they seem like minor problems these are things that tie up work days to get fixed. The mileage will never be fixed, and has not lived up to paperwork stats as far as getting around 21 mpg. You will be at the pumps often with this vehicle."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By roby on Saturday, September 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "4x4 fully loaded for a reasonable price"
Cons: "tire wear, fishtelly in snow"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I did a ton of research before buying any vehicle because I have a beater car. I knew I was looking for a 4wd that got around 20 mpg. We get a good amount of snow where I live and I always have to go to work in it. I looked at all kinds of jeeps and other name brands before I came across the jeep I bought. Be patient while buying one of these because some dealers have them way over priced and are trying to get you for every penny. This website said I should pay about 18 thousand for the fully loaded 09 jeep I bought. At the end of the day I only paid 15,500. It does drive a little more off roady then some other suv or cross overs I drove in the search for my new 4x4.One of the things I read about is the front tires wear easy which the dealer also told me. I have yet to use it in the snow which was what made me most nervous about this jeep is that most consumers say it can get fishtelly in the snow. that I will update you on but for now it has been a great jeep."
3 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Jeep lover on Tuesday, September 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Best Jeep I ever bought. I have the tow package and it can haul, this Jeep is mighty with great gas mileage and excellent in the snow and great city driving as well. Hightly recommend!"
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Nick on Monday, September 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "High visibility, 4WD"
Cons: "Front suspension during turns chews tires really f"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"When you turn wheels all the way rubber is getting scraped off really fast, you can feel it. And it feels as wheels are trying to lay down on the ground. Very unstable on the slippery roads"
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful