2010 Jeep Liberty Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 6, 2010

The 2010 Jeep Liberty is at home on the trail—but not so much in suburban driveways or city streets.

To bring you an expert take on the 2010 Jeep Liberty, TheCarConnection.com has driven the Jeep Liberty on- and off-road, then experts researched available road tests. You'll find shopping advice here in this Bottom Line and all the results in the adjacent full review.

Based on its proportions, you might call the 2010 Jeep Liberty a crossover, but it's a true truck. Where the Liberty differs from its competitors is its real off-road capabilities. The Liberty’s relatively fresh, boxy shape, combined with its 4x4 heritage, provides consumers with the rugged image that has long been the Jeep brand’s appeal, but its relative lack of on-road comfort and poor fuel economy will limit that appeal.

The 2010 Jeep Liberty’s exterior appearance has become a bit more masculine, and the tweaks work well to emphasize off-road prowess and all-around Jeep-ness. The 2010 Liberty interior looks tough and straightforward from a distance, but up close it's still appointed in chintzy-feeling materials.

Under the hood of the Liberty sits a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 engine, which is torquey enough, but acceleration is nothing special, nor is fuel economy. It's also quite coarse and comes hooked only to a four-speed automatic transmission. Buyers can choose between rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, although 4WD models get slightly worse mileage than the RWD models. With 4WD, EPA ratings are just 15 mpg city, 21 highway. New for 2010 is an Eco lamp indicator that lets drivers know when they are driving in a fuel-efficient manner.

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On-road ride quality is one of the Liberty's low points. As a tall, narrow vehicle with a pitchy ride, the Liberty results in lots of "head toss" on rough roads; there's also a fair amount more interior road and wind noise than in more carlike compact crossover vehicles. Last year, Jeep Liberty models received upgrades to their 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. Seating isn't particularly spacious either, though the Liberty does have space enough for four adults and the backseats fold forward for more cargo space. All those criticisms won't matter as much if off-road ability is on your list, as the Liberty is very able on trails, with a low range and under-body shielding. Command Trac is one of two four-wheel-drive systems offered in the Liberty; it's a part-time system intended for trail-running, while Selec-Trac II is a full-time system that's also off-road capable but better oriented for snowy roads.

While the 2010 Jeep Liberty comes with a host of standard safety features, such as side-impact and side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control, and several other electronic off-road aids, it only achieves a worrisome "marginal" rating from the IIHS in side-impact safety—the second-worst rating the IIHS gives. For frontal-offset impacts, the 2010 Jeep Liberty garners the IIHS’ highest rating of "good." New for 2010 are active head restraints for the Liberty, which the IIHS rewards with its second-highest rating of "acceptable" for rear-crash protection.

Both the Sport and Limited models of the 2010 Liberty come quite well equipped, with the Limited model offering a host of extras, including heated leather seats, cruise control, voice-activated Bluetooth, a garage-door opener, and upgraded trim. There are plenty of cool options, such as a music hard drive system, Bluetooth, rain-sensing wipers, and a Sky Slider sunroof, if you don't mind the higher price tag.

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