AutoWeek - 2003 Jeep Liberty: Rolling Changes

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Dec 4, 2002.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Few compromises, off-road or on, in Jeep Liberty

    [​IMG]

    LIKES
    Interior cabin space, Independent suspension, Exterior “cute-ute” character

    DISLIKES
    Maybe a little too cute, Tranny shift points, Fuel mileage

    Just one year after we rolled a Jeep Liberty while putting it through our standard AutoFile tests, we were back at California Speedway to try again. We’re happy to report we kept its wheels and tires solidly on the pavement. Since the rollover (AW, Nov. 26, 2001), Jeep made a running change to Liberty, lowering the suspension by nearly an inch on all vehicles built after April. This new, lowered Liberty felt wonderfully comfortable by comparison. In the same slalom, run on the same section of asphalt as last year, it oversteered gently and benignly while at the limit.

    Apart from that one incident of rollover, we find this to be an interesting Jeep. It is far more livable on a day-to-day basis than is a Wrangler, and not as big and thirsty as a Grand Cherokee. Liberty was designed to fill the spot in the Jeep lineup that was occupied by Cherokee for more than a decade.

    After our report on our first Liberty drive (AW, May 14, 2001), Jeep owners we heard from took DaimlerChrysler to task for building a vehicle that didn’t appear to be up to Jeep off-road standards. Liberty is the first Jeep to come with independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering, two items not normally associated with serious off-roaders.

    But those initial complaints of Liberty as being unworthy to carry the Jeep name are unfounded.

    Like all Jeeps before it, Liberty passes the stout Jeep Rubicon Trail tests, and there is an added bonus with Liberty—it does it in comfortable style. Liberty’s on-road behavior is better than we’d expect from a capable off-roader, and our readers say they appreciate the 5000-pound towing capacity.

    Almost all respondents to our AutoFile survey agreed Liberty is a handsome ride with modern design cues inside and out, in features like door handles and lock pulls. Exterior lines are well executed, too, which is all too much a rarity in the slab-sided SUV field these days. Overall, Liberty’s styling received high marks.

    Liberty is a prime example that there is no reason not to do things nicely. It doesn’t cost more to design a good-looking vehicle than it does an ugly one and, as we have seen elsewhere, in the long run an ugly vehicle will cost a company dearly.

    Liberty’s numbers were about what you’d expect for a truck-based SUV of its size. The 3.7-liter V6 propelled the 4115-pound vehicle to 60 mph in 10.52 seconds. The slalom was handled at 39.5 mph. Stopping from 60 took 144 feet. For comparison, the Ford Escape we tested (AW, Feb. 26, 2001) went from 0 to 60 mph in 8.18 seconds and from 60 to 0 in 139 feet, while the slalom was run at 41.2 mph.

    While Liberty owners seem to be satisfied with their vehicles, we wonder how long Jeep will continue to insist its offerings be such highly capable off-roaders, especially since so few owners ever really take them off-road. The segment of small SUVs long ago went away from truck-based or truck-style chassis in favor of passenger car platforms.

    [​IMG]

    For now, it’s enough to know Liberty is a competent four-wheeler, on-road and off, but especially when all four wheels stay on the ground.

    SPECIFICATIONS
    CHASSIS
    Uniframe four-door sport/utility vehicle
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase (in): 104.3
    Length/width (in): 174.4/71.6
    Curb weight (lbs): 4115
    SUSPENSION
    Front: Upper and lower A-arms, coil springs, gas-charged shocks, antiroll bar
    Rear: Live axle with trailing upper A-arm, dual-trailing lower arms, coil springs, gas-charged shocks, antiroll bar
    BRAKES
    F/R: Discs/discs; ABS
    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Alloy P235/70R-16 Goodyear Wrangler SR-A
    CAPACITIES
    Fuel (gal): 18.5
    Cargo (cu ft): 29.0
    ENGINE
    Front-longitudinal 3.7-liter/225.76-cid V6
    Horsepower: 210 @ 5200 rpm
    Torque (lb-ft): 235 @ 4000 rpm

    Compression ratio: 9.1:1
    Valvetrain: SOHC
    Fuel delivery: Electronic multipoint fuel injection
    Fuel requirement: 87 octane
    DRIVETRAIN
    Four-wheel drive Transmission: Four-speed automatic
    Final drive ratio: 3.73:1

    ROAD TEST DATA
    STANDING-START ACCELERATION
    0-30 mph: 3.62 sec
    0-40 mph: 5.38 sec
    0-50 mph: 7.70 sec
    0-60 mph: 10.52 sec
    0-100 km/h (62.1 mph): 11.24 sec
    0-quarter-mile: 78.3 mph, 17.77 sec
    ROLLING ACCELERATION
    20-40 mph (first gear): 3.4 sec
    40-60 mph (second gear): 5.6 sec
    60-80 mph (second gear): 7.7 sec
    BRAKING
    80 mph-0: 265 ft
    60 mph-0: 144 ft
    30 mph-0: 35 ft
    FUEL MILEAGE
    EPA combined: 18.90 mpg
    AW overall: 17.71 mpg
    HANDLING
    490-foot slalom: 39.5 mph
    Lateral acceleration (200-foot skidpad): 0.71 g
    INTERIOR NOISE (dBA)
    Idle: 45
    Full throttle: 76
    Steady 60 mph: 68

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    VIEWS AND REVIEWS
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    OWNERS
    I'm a small car aficionado and the Liberty is a nimble, small-car-feeling SUV. It’s great to sit up high and have load space when you need it, but still have a vehicle that’s tight, maintains directional stability, gives good feedback through a stiffly tuned suspension, is easy to park and surrounds me with high-quality materials. The V6 is not fast, but I do win most stoplight derbies. -STEVE MARX, via e-mail

    I have used the Liberty off-road and it performs fine. And it’s great in snow around town. Four doors and plenty of storage. My only complaint is the shift points are all wrong on the automatic; it doesn’t allow for much true sports driving. -SHELBEY COOK, Centennial, Colo.

    After eight CJs and Wranglers, the Liberty doesn’t disappoint. It is well built and comfortable. The independent front improves the on-road ride without sacrificing anything off-road. On Camp Jeep trails, it was up to the task every time. -BILL ROENICK, Fishkill, N.Y.

    I like most things about the Liberty except for two problems: the gas mileage (for the first six months I got only about 15 mpg with mostly highway driving) and the fading back-wheel fender extensions. -PAIGE MARIE BROWER, Gansevoort, N.Y.

    The high seating is a Jeep thang, so get used to it, I’m told. So be it, I would buy another without any thought. -FRANK SQUIRES, Springfield, Ill.

    U.S. MEDIA
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    As you would expect, when you drive off-road you often encounter stumps and branches and big rocks. On a truck-based SUV like the Liberty, you should have plenty of ground clearance. In low range, by the time you hit 25 mph, it’s already in fourth. Because of the gearing, your top speed might only be 35 mph, but the Jeep has been pulling like a locomotive up to that point, thanks to the change in gearing. You feel like you can drive straight up the side of a mountain—and plenty of Jeep owners have done just that -Orlando Sentinel

    FOREIGN MEDIA
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    With a bigger engine than the entry-level BMW X5 and Mercedes ML, it’s a good-looking, well-spec’d alternative, provided you’re willing to swap some of the European badge kudos for an American ride. Wafty suspension has you wobbling over speed bumps, bungeed into corners and bobbing about like a Weeble on the spongy seats. Why not top it off with a Styrofoam steering wheel? So what are the advantages then? Well, it’s a smooth cruiser on the motorway and has plenty of power. It’s also capable off-road, should you feel the desire to stalk farmers. -Top Gear (England)

    PRICING
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    Base: 24,045 (includes $610 destination charge)
    As tested: $24,935 (after $500 LE equipment discount)

    IntelliChoice target price: $21,744
    Rebates: None
    What owners paid; average: $21,175 to $29,247; $25,248
    Options as tested: ABS ($600); tow group ($365); tinted glass ($270); skid plate ($155)
    Other major options: Limited quick order package ($1,540); wheel and tire group ($895); sunroof ($700); off-road group ($520); side airbags ($490); Infinity speakers ($475); overhead console ($400); full-time 4wd ($395); six-way power driver’s seat ($300); lim- ited-slip ($285); heated seats ($250); six-disc CD changer ($200); heated mirrors ($200); security group ($175)
     
  2. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Let the hatred BEGIN. :o
     
  3. flynfrog

    flynfrog Cool isnt Cheap

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    IB flames
     
  4. flynfrog

    flynfrog Cool isnt Cheap

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    are you turbo disel boy

    and do you own a mac
     

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