Driving Impressions

Jeep took a big leap forward by developing the Liberty. This SUV reaches well beyond the ever-popular but largely outmoded Cherokee in civility and refinement. Better yet, it does so without losing any of the character and on-road and offroad proficiency of its predecessor. The Liberty is solidly constructed and tight throughout, and it offers quick, precise steering — both on and off the road — with moderate effort and a pleasant feel. The ride is lovely on smooth roads, and it doesn’t deteriorate much when the pavement ends or gets rough.

The Liberty’s offroad running is utterly amazing. A trek through dusty, gnarled, gravel paths seems almost like a Sunday drive on a paved parkway — at least when you compare it to the jostling that’s produced in plenty of the Liberty’s competitors. Undulations are more noticeable in the backseat, but the ride is fine up front. The SUV copes effortlessly with every obstacle, and nothing seems capable of slowing it down.

The Liberty’s performance is more than adequate with the V-6 and automatic transmission, but some drivers may crave a bit more power. It’s plenty energetic off-road, but on the highway, it’s not quite as powerful; this is a result of the occasional awkward downshifting at low speeds. The firm yet comfortable seats have short bottoms, but they offer excellent support and ample headroom and elbowroom in the front and back. In addition to emitting only modest engine noise, the Liberty is nearly devoid of 4WD drone in Low range.

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