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Jeep Liberty CRD...I am not blowing SMOKE up your skirt!!!

by DarbyWalters:      Apr 30, 2007 - Updated Mar 27, 2011

Product Rating: 5.0 Recommended: Yes 

Pros: 2.8L Intercooled Turbo Diesel, Fuel Mileage, Full Time 4WD, Part Time 4WD and 4LO
Cons: Limited Production ~11,200 units, Diesel Clatter might take a bit to get used to
The Bottom Line: The value of the Jeep Liberty CRD really is greater than the "Sum of It's Parts". Fuel Mileage, Towing, 4x4, Safety!

The Little Diesel that could! Everyone is familiar with the Large Truck Diesels in the US Market, but don't let this Torque Monster "Escape" (Ford Humor) your "short list". It deserves a serious gander if you are in the market for a midsize Sport Utility that gets better than average fuel economy. Since you can only get these used these days, I am going to skip the items like: How many cup holders?, Stereo Options? and How many Cubic Feet of storage space are available? Instead, I am going to concentrate on the more important items such as: Fuel Mileage, Diesel Attributes and Safety.

The Jeep Liberty CRD was produced for the stateside market for two years. I already had a 2002 Jeep Liberty Limited 4x4 and found the vehicle size and 4WD capabilities to be to my liking. When the CRD (Common Rail Diesel) version appeared in 2005, I was tempted to switch but I had some money in my 2002 with off road modifications so I waited. In 2006, after fuel prices started climbing, it made sense for me to take another look.

Once I test drove the CRD, I caught the "diesel bug". The low end grunt that was missing with the 2002 Jeep Liberty 3.7L V6 Gas Model was there is abundance with the CRD. Some other features that made this SUV attractive were the safety features that had been added since the original debut of the 2002 Jeep Liberty. After Mercedes purchased Chrysler, they incorporated some of their safety features into the Liberty Chassis: 1) ABS-Antilock 4 wheel disc brakes 2)ROM-Roll Over Mitigation 3)ESP-Electronic Stability Program 4)BA-Brake Assist and 5)TC-Traction Control. These 5 features along with the Selec-Trac 4WD transfercase, which gives you the benefit of Full Time 4WD for any conditions, makes driving the Jeep Liberty CRD confidence inspiring. I especially like it for the times when someone other than myself is driving my CRD.

What do all these ABS, ROM, ESP, BA and TC letters mean to you? The ABS senses when a tire/wheel is locked up and releases the brake pressure to that tire/wheel to give you optimum braking and steering control in a panic situation. ROM senses when a tire/wheel is lifting and applies braking forces to the other tires/wheels to compensate and lessen the chance of a Rollover. ESP senses "yaw" and adjusts power and or braking. Basically it compares the attitude of your vehicle to the steering input and keeps your vehicle stable during understeer or oversteer situations. BA automatically adds brake pressure near the end of a stop to decrease braking distance. TC does two things. On Road it senses tire spin and applies braking pressure to stop uncontrolled tire spin. Off Road this also acts like a traction device and directs more power to the tires/wheels that have traction to keep you moving in loose conditions. You do have the options to "turn off" the ESP but the other functions still operate normally.

Of course, the main reason I purchased the Jeep Liberty CRD was for the characteristics of the Diesel itself. Built in Italy by VM Motori (40% Owned by Detroit Diesel), this version of the 2.8L Intercooled Turbo Diesel has many applications abroad. There are too many to mention here but I will say that the 2.8L CRD is in the Euro Jeep Libertys which are called Cherokees since Subaru owns the rights to the "Liberty" moniker abroad. The CRD is a "Common Rail Diesel" which is a high fuel pressure setup that gives more power and cleaner emissions than older Diesels. It has 160 horses but the real kicker is the 295 foot pounds of torque that is delivered at a low 1,800 rpm. That low end grunt combined with the 545RFE transmission with two overdrive ratios makes for some great fuel mileage. I have seen as high as 32mpg highway while cruising at 68mph during the summer months. In town I am always in serious Stop n' Go traffic and get a respectable 21mpg on a consistent basis. This is in a SUV that tips the scales at 4296 pounds. Another benefit of all that low end torque is that the CRD can easily tow 5,000 pounds. I don't know of many other midsized SUVs that have that towing capacity.

If you are in the market for a fuel efficient, safe, SUV that can tow up to 5,000 pounds and take you to destinations "On" or "Off" Road...The Jeep Liberty CRD would be an excellent choice.

As with most vehicles produced lately, there are some recalls that should be addressed. The Lower Ball Joint Recall that has plagued the Jeep Liberty since 2002 is still an issue. Also there is the "F37 Customer Satisfaction Notice" about some Torque Converter Issues. There is also a "blower" recall to replace the fan for the heat/ac. If you have any questions about these problems and other fixes for small issues, you should make a visit to http://www.LOSTKJs.com and go to the forum. There is a special section for CRDs that has more information than you can read at one sitting.

Now for the "creature features" of the CRD. The Jeep Liberty has a pretty big "glasshouse" for great visibility in all directions. One thing you will have to get used to is the small size of the dash. With the seating position, you are not very far away from the front windshield, kind of like a Jeep Wrangler. Also the front seats put you in an "upright position" like a chair. The good part about this position is that you can easily tell where your front of your Jeep is in relation to obstacles. This along with the excellent turning radius (less than 36') makes the Jeep Liberty very parking lot friendly. The seats on the newer 2005-2007 Jeep Libertys have been redesigned for better comfort than the 2002-2004. They seen a little wider and firmer but they are not the "most" comfortable seats on the market. They also redesigned the fold down features of the rear seats. They fold down "flatter" than previous models but not completely flat. I guess they decided that it was better to go this route instead of raising the loading platform and loosing vertical space.

As for driving characteristics, the Jeep Liberty CRD is nimble and fairly responsive for an SUV. The 104.3 inch wheelbase does a good job of soaking up most "bumps" but it is not as compliant as other SUVs on the market. Better tires and Shocks/Struts make a "huge" difference in that department. OME (Old Man Emu) makes a set of shocks/struts that make the CRD a much firmer but more compliant ride. Noise levels are acceptable but you can hear the faint clatter to remind you that you are driving a diesel, especially in city traffic. Just be prepared to have "gas station" attendants run out and tell you that you are using the wrong pump. When you tell them it is a "diesel" they get that look a dog gives when they hear a shrill noise...their eyes get glassy, head tilts and they start scratching! Overall, the Jeep Liberty CRD is fun to drive and the "Turbo Diesel" gives you great "Stop n' Go" performance.

The combination Torque and Transmission Ratios gives you the best of both worlds. Great throttle response and fuel mileage. For example, at 68mph you will only be turning ~ 1,900 rpm. With the 3.7L Gas Engine,the Transmission is the 45RFE with only one overdrive. With the 2.8L CRD you get the 545RFE with two overdrives. Also the transmission does not "hunt" for gears like it did with my 2002 3.7L Gas Jeep Liberty.

As for the interior ergonomics, I like the layout. The window controls are still on the center console, but I am used to that setup. If you find one with the stereo controls on the back of the steering wheel, that is a nice feature. Otherwise, everything is easy to reach and operate. The Unlimited Models can also come with an overhead display that also contains 3 "remote buttons" for garage doors or electronic gates. It also has real time function displays for MPG, AV MPG, Distance to Empty, and more.

There are "shopping bag hooks" on the rear of the rear seats that actually keep stuff from slamming around while driving. There is also a cargo cover that can hide stuff from obvious view. One thing I like is that the rear windows still roll "all the way down" instead of just part of the way. They did this by making the rear window two pieces...this allows most of the window to be completely rolled down despite the shape of the rear door. As for storage space, the Jeep Liberty CRD does not have as much as most SUVs. There are door pockets on the front doors and a small center console which meets my needs but the glove box is rather small. In the rear seat area, the doors have one cup holder and that is all you get. For the rear cargo area, the space is shorter than most other SUVs including the ones in the same "midsize" group. There is a "cargo organizer" that the dealer sells but the aftermarket has a sturdy "cargo shelf" that seems more useful to me.

All in all, my Jeep Liberty CRD meets all my needs. The Turbo Diesel made the Jeep Liberty CRD a better vehicle than the already good Jeep Liberty 3.7L. Excellent Fuel Mileage coupled with Great Handling/Turning Radius and Upgraded Safety Features makes the Jeep Liberty CRD the best Jeep Liberty to date. I think I will keeping this one for quite a while!

Update as of 3-27-2011. http://www.GreenDieselEngineering.com has some really great ECU and TCM upgrades for better power/ecomony/longevity.
Amount Paid (US$): 25000
Condition: New
Model Year: 2006
Model and Options: 2006 Jeep Liberty CRD Sport 4x4
Product Rating: 5.0
Recommended: Yes 
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