Car Review

2012 Jeep Liberty: New Car Review

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Jeep Liberty 2WD Sport
Used 2012 Jeep Liberty
$8,132
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Jeep Liberty 4WD Sport
Used 2012 Jeep Liberty
$13,880
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Jeep Liberty 4WD Limited Jet
Used 2012 Jeep Liberty
$16,674
RELATED READING
See all Jeep Liberty articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Joe Tralongo May 2012

Pros: Roomy rear seat; choice of two 4x4 systems, reasonable price on Sport trim

Cons: Sluggish V6; no rear-view camera option; poor fuel economy; lackluster on-road performance

One step down from the mighty Grand Cherokee, the Liberty fills the void left by the beloved Cherokee. Slightly smaller than the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, the five-passenger Liberty offers some of the off-road prowess expected of a Jeep in a package that is more secure and more comfortable than the Wrangler. Designed to compete with Nissan's Xterra and Toyota's 4Runner, the Liberty is one of a handful of mid-size SUVs that can actually venture off-road with confidence. Its roomy interior is ideal for group outings, and its generous ground clearance and two available four-wheel-drive systems can tackle just about anything Mother Nature can dish out.

Although the Liberty's design is beginning to show its age, there is much to like here, including a number of cool options such as the enormous Sky Slider sunroof, UConnect communications and audio features and Trail Rated off-road capability. The Limited Jet Edition, which sports 20-inch wheels and blacked-out headlamp bezels, has a cool urban vibe you won't find on other SUVs. Unfortunately, the Liberty's V6 engine and antiquated four-speed automatic transmission don't return very impressive fuel economy, an important factor in this time of rising fuel costs.

Comfort & Utility

The Liberty's boxy, upright exterior makes for a very user-friendly interior. You can fit all manner of cargo and gear inside the Liberty. Yet it's the passenger space that most impresses us. Front and rear head and leg room are more than generous, although with three abreast, the rear seat may feel rather cramped. Sadly, the Liberty missed the interior make-over boat that visited the rest of the Jeep line last year, leaving a somewhat dated design with lots of hard plastic surfaces and a dull gray color.

The standard seats in the Sport are covered in easy-to-clean cloth. We'd go with the leather that is standard on the Limited and Limited Jet models, which comes with heated front seats and a memory power driver's seat. Standard on the Sport 4x4 are Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent, heated power side mirrors, power windows and locks, air conditioning and a tilt steering wheel. Limited models add leather-trimmed seating, an Infinity premium sound system and 17-inch alloy wheels. Popular options include the Sky Slide sunroof, automatic climate control and a number of audio upgrades.

Technology

Jeep offers several radio options for the Liberty, but the two most attractive are the 430N navigation radio available on the Sport and the 730N navigation radio with voice control available on the Limited and Limited Jet. Both models feature a 40-GB hard drive, DVD playback capability and HDD radio, plus navigation by Garmin. The 730N adds UConnect with Bluetooth and voice activation for phone and audio selection; the 730N also offers Sirius Traffic with real-time traffic updates. An eight-speaker, 368-watt Infinity premium audio system is standard on the Limited and the Limited Jet.

Oddly, there is no backup camera available with the navigation system, although the ParkSense rear park assist can audibly alert the driver to objects behind the vehicle that are hidden out of sight.

Performance & Fuel Economy

There is only one engine and transmission choice for the Liberty: a 3.7-liter V6 teamed to a four-speed automatic transmission. With 210 horsepower and 235 lb-ft of torque, the Liberty is not the most powerful SUV in its class, but it gets the job done. Fuel economy figures of 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway for the rear-wheel- drive Liberty and 15/21 mpg for the 4x4 don't exactly have us jumping for joy, but they are only a few miles per gallon below what most mid-size SUVs earn, so we can't fault Jeep too much.

When properly equipped, the Liberty is tow rated up to 5,000 pounds and features advanced safety features such as Trailer Sway Control, which works with the stability and ABS to help correct oscillations caused by a swaying trailer.

Off-road fans can choose between two 4x4 systems. Command-Trac II is a part-time four-wheel-drive system with a manual transfer case. This system is intended only for off-road use at speeds under 50 mph. Selec-Trac II is a permanently engaged four-wheel-drive system that can be used when driving on paved surfaces at any speed.

Safety

The 2012 Jeep Liberty comes standard with ABS, electronic traction and stability control and four airbags, including front and rear side curtain airbags. The Liberty does not offer front-seat side-impact airbags, which may explain its marginal side crash test ratings reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Also standard is Hill Start Assist, which keeps the vehicle from rolling backward when starting out on a steep incline. 4x4 models come with Hill Descent Control, which uses the brakes to slow the vehicle on steep or slippery descents without input from the driver.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 Jeep Liberty is a no-compromise off-road vehicle bolstered by a generous 7.8 inches of ground clearance and short front and rear overhangs, as well as impressive approach and departure angles.

The Liberty's live rear axle limits on-road performance, and it is further hampered by the SUV's high center of gravity and underpowered V6 engine. As a daily driver, the Liberty is far less enjoyable than the Chevy Equinox or the Ford Edge, but its off-road ability is not in question.

Other Cars to Consider

Nissan Xterra - The Xterra costs a bit more than the Liberty but offers a more powerful engine. The Xterra is also wider and less maneuverable than the Liberty and offers less rear-seat legroom.

Toyota 4Runner - The 4Runner also offers a more powerful engine and a more competent off-road package, but it costs considerably more than the Liberty. The 4Runner is also larger on the outside yet has less rear-seat legroom.

AutoTrader Recommends

For the money, we'd probably go with a base Sport model. Once you start climbing into the Limited and Limited Jet, the price points aren't that far from the Grand Cherokee Laredo or Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, both of which have much more powerful and fuel-efficient V6 engines and more available features.

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Jeep Liberty 2WD Sport
Used 2012 Jeep Liberty
$8,132
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Jeep Liberty 4WD Sport
Used 2012 Jeep Liberty
$13,880
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Jeep Liberty 4WD Limited Jet
Used 2012 Jeep Liberty
$16,674
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Jeep Liberty: New Car Review - Autotrader