Jeep Liberty — True Freedom On- and Off-Road Driving

Drivers who thrive on the outdoor get-up-and-go-somewhere lifestyle — and who demand an affordably priced sport utility vehicle — should set their sights on the Jeep Liberty. Jeep is the true iconic brand for 4×4 SUV driving.

There are many reasons why someone in the car market for a vehicle that can handle the off-road, while also delivering superb on-road manners, would want to consider driving the 2011 Liberty. The Jeep Liberty — with a starting price of $23,250 — is a midsize SUV offered in two-wheel and four-wheel drive configurations, ideal for highway cruising, teardrop camper towing, and off-road exploring.

Most notable to keep in mind is that the Liberty is genetically programmed to rise to the promise of its legendary 4×4 heritage. The midsize Liberty has a very capable tow rating of 5,000 pounds and can manage the off-road terrain with its ground clearance of 9.4 inches.

On the paved road, the Liberty is mild mannered, giving its five passengers the same kind of typical ride comfort found in most of today’s car-based crossover utility vehicles — with the added benefit of giving the driver a real command-of-the-road feel behind the wheel. The Liberty has rack-and-pinion steering, a front independent suspension and a five-link rear suspension.

The Liberty offers two of the Jeep brand’s Trail-Rated four-wheel-drive systems: Command-Trac II and the optional Selec-Trac II. Command-Trac is a part-time 4WD system, while the optional Selec-Trac is a full-time, on-demand four-wheel-drive system that operates in 2WD, 4WD Auto, 4WD Low and Neutral.

Some owners will prefer having the Selec-Trac option because it removes any doubt of when to engage the 4WD system with its 4WD Auto feature; when roads turn slippery traction is instantly engaged. Selec-Trac can also remain in 2WD for better fuel economy. For off-roading at low speeds under 30 mph, the Selec-Trac can be turned to 4WD Low for such conditions.

On normal highway motoring the Jeep Liberty gives drivers a comfortable ride in 2WD (a rear-wheel-drive setup) that gives the Jeep its most optimal fuel economy ratings. The EPA estimates that drivers can achieve gas mileage of 16 miles per gallon city and 22-mpg highway in the 2WD mode. In 4WD, the Liberty drops 1 mpg each in city and highway fuel economy. The Liberty has one powertrain — the 3.7-liter V-6 coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission. Jeep’s V-6 delivers 210 horsepower and 235 lb.-ft. of torque.

The Jeep Liberty model lineup includes the Sport, Renegade and Limited. Of the three trims in the Liberty family, the middle child — appropriately named the Renegade — is the model with the heaviest emphasis on off-road finesse. The Liberty Renegade has a more rugged exterior appearance with unique fender flares and headlamps, and it comes with skid plates, hill-start assist and hill-descent control.

New for 2011 is Liberty Jet — a premium appearance package that dresses this midsize SUV with urban character. Exterior elements on the Jet package are blacked-out headlamps; chrome on the lower fascia, body-side moldings, mirror caps, roof rails and license plate; plus 20-inch all-season tires in polished aluminum wheels.

Jet pumps up the jam with a nine-speaker upgraded sound system, leather seating with accent stitching, rear park assist, plus a host of power-operated interior comfort conveniences. New for 2011 on all Jeep Liberty models are the new radio and infotainment systems, plus a new steering wheel with redundant radio controls. — Connie Keane, Motor Matters

VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger 4×4 midsize SUV
BASE PRICE___________________ $23,250 (as tested: $35,075)
MOTOR TYPE___________________ SOHC V-6 w/SMPFI
DISPLACEMENT_________________ 3.7-liter
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 210 at 5200 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 235 at 4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 4-speed automatic
WHEELBASE____________________ 106.1 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 176.9 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 35.5 ft.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 19.5 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway

Copyright, AutoWriters Associates Inc., 2011

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