In 2002, the Jeep division of DaimlerChrysler replaced the old Cherokee with a slightly larger sport utility vehicle called the Liberty. The Liberty's diesel engine and Renegade trim have been dropped for 2007, and a new Jeep Green Metallic paint scheme has been added.
An electronic stability system and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.
Pronounced trapezoidal wheel flares are integrated into the body, and a traditional seven-slot Jeep grille highlights the front. Short front and rear overhangs allow 36-degree approach and 31.5-degree departure angles for effective offroad driving.
Liberty SUVs have a coil-spring independent front suspension and a solid rear axle with coil springs. The spare tire is mounted externally on a swing-out tailgate with flip-up glass. Wheels are 16 inches in diameter (17 inches on the Limited). Available skid plates cover the fuel tank and transfer case, and an optional Trailer Tow Group yields a 5,000-pound towing capacity.
Each Liberty seats up to five. A 65/35-split rear seat can be folded down with one hand. The instrument panel features round gauges. All models have a CD player. Limited models can be fitted with a DVD-based GPS navigation radio.
Under the Hood
The sole engine is a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 that produces 235 pounds-feet of torque. It teams with either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The Liberty is offered with either rear- or four-wheel drive.
Antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard. Side curtain airbags are optional.
Solidly constructed, the Liberty offers quick, precise steering with moderate effort and it's a pleasant driving experience. The ride is surprisingly easygoing on smooth roads, and it doesn't deteriorate much when the pavement gets rough.
Offroad runs are amazing. Gnarled gravel paths seem almost like a paved parkway, though undulations may be more noticeable in the backseat.
Though not exceptional, performance is more than adequate with the V-6 engine and automatic transmission. At low highway speeds, the Liberty occasionally exhibits awkward downshifting. Firm yet comfortable seats offer excellent support, and there is ample headroom and legroom. This SUV is nearly devoid of four-wheel-drive drone in low range.
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