Pros: Great Styling, rugged durability, superior braking, excellent off-road prowess.
Cons: Poor seating design, lack of lighting, and some silly design concepts
I bought my 2003 Jeep Liberty Renegade in November of 2002. I've put about 15,000 miles on it now, and we're in the beginning of June. This has been a great vehicle for me, and I am really excited about it.
I traded in a 1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ and a 1999 Mazda Miata to afford this new Jeep. I had to make the decision based upon the forthcoming first progeny of my life. I needed safety, design, capability and most important, FUN.
I had been doing some 4x4 travel and was really enjoying it, so when I made my decision to go to a SUV, I wanted 4x4 and actual off-road capability. This actually limited my search to comparable vehicles, much unlike other reviews you read of the Liberty.
I had narrowed my search down to the following:
Jeep Liberty, Nissan Xterra, Land Rover Freelander, and Chevy Trailblazer.
The Nissan turned out to not be built in the manner I wanted it to be (couldn't get a standard transmission), the Land Rover is so expensive it made me laugh, have you seen the insides of those?? and the Trailblazer is a big bloated overpriced GM product that didn't fit my budget or my needs.
So I went to look at the Liberty. I had the following requirements that I wanted to meet:
5 Speed manual transmission.
Limited Slip rear end.
towing package with HD cooling
low end stereo.
All skid plates and tow hooks.
I had to search long and hard to find the right vehicle, and found on nearby. I went to this dealer and was given and extremely low trade in value and walked from the deal. The second place I went to was very helpful and gave me a great experience.
The Liberty has now been lifted 2-1/2", tires replaced with off-road tires, protection called rock rails have been added, a Sirius satellite radio was added as was a CB radio, antenna and much more.
A word about the stock tires. Please, just because a vehicle comes with a tires, do not assume that it will fit for your application. The tires that were stock on my Liberty drove very well on the asphalt here in Raleigh, NC, but during a brief visit to SC, the more concrete style of pavement was extremely slippery to the Goodyear RSA tires, to the point of being a bit scary.
The best parts of my Liberty? I get to continue enjoying my 4x4 hobby as well as enjoying the safety and creature comforts of a nice SUV. I love the capability, it can go wherever I ask it to. I love the styling, it drives some people nuts, but it looks GOOD to me. I love the feel of the V6 and the pull of the torque is excellent, even with substantially larger tires.
Things I don't like: The horrible rear seat lighting, the bad decision to have so much plastic all over the place and the apparently weak design of the front axles, diferential and u joints..
Overall, I would HIGHLY recomend this vehicle. 15,000 miles, 7 months, and no problems... North American made, and at least a partial heir to the Jeep heritage.