TheCarConnection.com has driven the Jeep Liberty on- and off-road in order to give you this expert opinion. TheCarConnection.com's SUV experts then researched available road tests on the new Jeep Liberty to produce this conclusive review.
The 2009 Jeep Liberty defines SUV-lites by not being one. The Liberty's fresh shape, combined with its 4x4 heritage, provides consumers with the rugged Jeep image that has long been the Jeep brand's appeal.
2009 Jeep Liberty models receive upgrades to its chassis, including stiffer rear axle shafts and retuned springs, shocks, anti-roll bars, and a steering gear valve meant to improve the vehicle's steering and handling. A retuned booster, low rollback calipers, and a revised brake pedal ratio are meant to increase brake pedal feel.
The 2009 Jeep Liberty's exterior appearance is a masculine twist on the former version, which was more softly rounded. The interior is restyled, with some of the materials that get complaints from TheCarConnection.com's writers, but plenty of cool features, such as a music hard drive system, are installed.
Reviewer criticisms of the Jeep Liberty range from tepid praise to downright harsh. Their remarks, however, reveal something important about SUVs; there are subsets to this huge segment of vehicles and it's important to know what you want your vehicle to do while you're evaluating alternatives.
For instance, do you require an SUV to be off-road capable or a vehicle that looks the part while commuting to and fro around town in comfort? The Jeep's on-road ride and handling are not as carlike as some other SUVs that couldn't begin to keep up with the Liberty off road; the changes for this year don't really change that. The Liberty's 3.7-liter V-6 is torquey enough, but acceleration is nothing special, nor is fuel economy.
If you'll never go off road in a million years, consider other SUVs. There are plenty of SUV-ish crossovers out there. However, if you're apt to put a wheel on a trail or have another genuine need for the kind of performance that the Liberty provides, spend some time in one and you'll be impressed. It's important for SUV shoppers to know what they want their truck to do. In other words, pick the right tool for your job, and you'll probably be happy with your choice.
While the 2009 Jeep Liberty comes standard with a host of standard safety features, such as side and side-curtain airbags and electronic stability control, plus several electronic off-road aids, it only achieves a worrisome Marginal rating from the IIHS in side-impact safety. Other crash-test results are more positive.
The Bottom Line:
The 2009 Jeep Liberty is a very capable SUV, but one that might not be right for most everyday drivers.