** - UPDATE - ** (Apologize about first review, Was new, here is the Real Review)
I went about 6 months ago on a quest to find myself a Sport Utility, I either test drove or looked at: Ford Escape, Nissan Xterra, Toyota Highlander, Rav4, Honda CRV and even Hyundai Sonata. I was quite impressed at the Toyota but Jesus look at that price tag. So my last stop was the JEEP dealer. I knew there was a new model out and I was anxious to see what it was all about. After a quick test drive, I left the dealership with my Brand New 02 Liberty Sport Loaded, and my pocketbook wasnít set back more then 22,000$ With all that out the way, I now have 10,000 Miles on it, and here is the vehicles review.
Well, when you first look at the liberty, you kind of scratch your head and wonder, who got drunk and drew this up one night. The front end has your jeep round lights and large Grill. But the way the vehicle is shaped, it looks quite unique. The Styling of the Vehicle was quite impressive, it has that "Cute Ute" Look, but more refined then your typical SUV, overall, I am impressed.
The interior is very roomy and laid out well, the gauge cluster is analog and easy to read, and the Shifter for the Transmission has a large handle, comfortable with easy access to the overdrive button. Also which I love, the window controls for up/down are located near the armrest/center console, giving the driver an easy way to control all the vehicles windows without having to switch hands on the steering wheel. I opted for the more Sporty look inside, and since I am a Large fan of going to the lake or off road, I chose the regular fabric seats, which are comfortable, and sturdy. The rear seating has tons of headroom, which is great if you are tall, but the foot room is Slightly lacking in the rear. The rear windows go all the way down as well, which is a big plus, because some of us hate when they are halfway only. The rear passengers can easily control their windows from a pad in the rear of the center console. A downfall in the rear is the Seats donít fold flat for cargo, but it still offers AMPLE space when they are folded forward. There is also an electrical plug in the rear for camping/ hooking something up to the power supply in the back. Also the rear seat heads must be removed to get the seats to go all the way down. Overall the interior is head roomy, and a little cramped in the rear seats, but I give it thumbs up, very stylish and accommodating.
On the Road / Engine:
The jeeps power plant is a 3.7L 210 HP V6, with a 4-speed Auto Transmission w/overdrive. Sounds like a lot of power for a small sport utility, Well, Yes and No. The jeep off the line is a tad bit sluggish, and usually requires some pedal mashing. Once the jeep is moving, the power is plentiful and perfect. On the Freeway the jeep has no problem accelerating through traffic. I also am amazed at how quiet and comfortable it was at high speeds, which I'll get to in the suspension portion of this review. The 4WD System is amazing in this vehicle, something to be expected from the JEEP family of cars. This liberty came equipped with "Shift On the Fly" 4WD High, and 4WD LOW, which 90% of the Sport Uteís I tested didn't have 4WD low. I took my liberty into some backcountry where CJ's and BIG Trucks usually venture, and was completely surprised. The Liberty tackled fallen trees, large rocks, uneven dirt mounds, uphill muddy trails, and deep streams without a flaw, I'll tell you, I got a lot of questions that day. I also have taken the liberty through the snowy conditions that occur near lake Tahoe. The High 4wd worked great, almost No slippage occurred, even in turning, and I felt really good when I was following a Large Blazer on the side bank at about 50 through the snow. On and Bad note, The liberty does not like STEEP hills at slower speeds, I found it shifted frequently kind of like it wasnít sure what gear it should be in, and it made for a gas guzzling ride. Overall on the engine, I give it 1 Thumb Up, if it wasnít for the shifting, I would be more impressed.
The Suspension on the Jeep is a standard Rear with a fully Independent front axle. Which is a First for jeeps. I must tell you, this Ute rides SMOOTH and QUIET on the freeway, sometimes I need to slow down because its smooth to the point where I am going around 90 and it feels like 70. The only downfall is, if youíre on a freeway that is chewed up, get ready to feel the imperfections in the road. This isnít really bad for me though, since if I wanted super comfort, I would have bought a Car and Not a Ute. Over rough bumps the suspension is Stiff, but doesnít flop the vehicle around when hitting things. I must tell you, In the back country, I had the jeep sitting in a Ditch, with the wheels pitched out at an angle, and boy was that amazing, the suspension is well designed and gives you the best of both worlds, the OFF road Ability, and the Street Capability. Overall in Suspension another Thumbs Up to jeep.
Towing / Economy:
It came time to test that 5,000lb towing jeep claimed it could do, so I hooked it up to my brothers 22' Sea Ray Boat. The jeep (Optional) comes with a Heavy duty-towing hitch and cooling system, so hooking it up was a snap. The towing package also included an Electrical kit with 2 Types of connections, so trailer lighting was a snap as well. I hooked the boat up to the light kit, and snapped it onto the hitch, and off we went. The Sea Ray weighs around 4,300 Lbs with the trailer, so this is a GOOD test for my liberty. I was in utter amazement, It towed it quite well, its almost as if the engine KNEW it was towing a boat, because the power was there and plentiful. I towed the boat about 25 miles, even on the freeway and had 0 issues, putting it in the water wasnít half bad either, just threw it into High 4WD and it easily got out and up the ramp no sweat, so Jeep kept its promise, and I am very impressed, this little UTE towing a 22' Boat?! I know I had quite a few Double takes that day. As for the fuel economy ok, this is where the jeep takes a dive. IT Guzzles Gas, the Sticker said 16/21 but itís partially full of it. Now, the Streets, expect to get around 13-15 MPG with a normal foot. Towing Expect about 7-9MPG in the streets and 14-15 on the freeway. But there is good news, on the freeway the jeep gets quite impressive fuel economy, I think this is due to the jeeps weight, which is tipping the scales at more then 4,000 LBS. Once you get the jeep going on the freeway, expect around 25-29 MPG. The Stops kill the fuel economy, thatís for sure.
The Jeep is an excellent vehicle; it performs in all areas it promised, Towing, on road, off road. The downfalls are of course Fuel Economy, and the little seat folding issue in the rear. While I am in the opinion Let me touch on the stereo, If you opt to get the Infinity Upgrade, MY GOD its amazing, crisp clear and LOUD, also the behind the steering wheel radio controls rock. So, my Overall Opinion of the jeep is Excellent, the best Ute in its class for the price.
Amount Paid (US$):
2002Model and Options:
Sport With all Options (Except Leather)