by Dan Carney
Everybody knows that Americans hate diesels, and that while they may be very popular with Euro-weenies because taxes there make diesel less onerously expensive than petrol, car makers can forget ever foisting off those slow, smoky noisy, smelly oil burners on us. Right?
Err, about 8000 people who bought Jeep Liberty diesels didn’t get the memo. We’ve been told that GM’s disastrously converted Oldsmobile gas V-8 engine has forever stained the name Rudolf Diesel here. But maybe the people for whom that is conventional wisdom have failed to notice that a bunch of today’s car buyers, especially in the entry level cute-ute segment, weren’t yet conceived when those Olds diesels were neighborhood laughingstocks.
Meanwhile VW has cultivated a following among the youngsters who like its cars for its TDI diesels, and Dodge Ram diesels are practically an icon for toughness and durability.
As some consumers may be starting to realize, today’s diesels have enjoyed a mechanical extreme makeover. What was once slow as a linebacker on a quiz show, now sprints smartly away from a standstill.
“Low-end torque,” they always said. “That’s what diesels have got. That’ll getcha goin’.” Trouble was, it never did. Whatever low-end torque was, it didn’t have anything to do with acceleration. Especially in the passing lane.
2006 Jeep Liberty
brawny turbodiesels make so much axle-twisting torque that they demand special
heavy-duty transmissions and engine management systems that actually reduce
power when starting from a stop, to prevent breaking pieces right off. In the
case of the
also, finally, have horsepower, which is what we wanted all along, because that
lets you pass sedentary, hat-wearing retirees (whatzat he’s driving, an
Old-something?) without being left hanging out in the passing lane to dry like
laundry during California’s next blackout. The
Mercedes-Benz E320 diesel is actually quicker than its gas-powered counterpart.
Does that mean the Jeep Liberty diesel is the hot ticket for winning easy money
street racing next Saturday night? No, but it does mean that it is plenty quick,
and possesses the grunt to pull a small trailer of playthings like jetsk...oops,
stopped at traffic lights, the Liberty won’t rattle loose the GPS tracking
device the CIA implanted in your skull, unlike, say, some Ram diesel pickups of
pretty recent vintage. Instead, at idle the
What’s the fuss for?
2006 Jeep Liberty
For people who actually enjoy the active lifestyle that entails towing trailers (as opposed to the people who buy SUVs because they say they have an active lifestyle, but spend all their free time running over hookers playing Grand Theft Auto on their GoofoffStation) the diesel’s efficiency and towing power is an unbeatable combination. Highway range with the tank topped off with Number 2 diesel is a bladder-bursting 500 miles. And when you get to the pump, you can refill for under 50 bucks even at today’s prices.
The little Jeep’s diesel powerplant is a large 2.8-liter inline four-cylinder, an engine that would be coarse even with gas fuel. But while the engine has a distinct diesel texture and sound, it is not overpowering, and is probably not too different from the likely vibration from a gas four-cylinder with no balance shafts.
DaimlerChrysler’s Italian subsidiary VM Motori provides the common-rail fuel-injected engine. A five-year/100,000 mile warranty on the engine should give prospective buyers peace of mind when contemplating the diesel option.
2006 Jeep Liberty
equipment also includes anti-lock brakes and a Sharper Image-full of gadgets
that would once have been luxury car options like reclining bucket seats, power
windows and door locks, illuminated entry, and remote keyless entry, rear
defroster, flip-open rear window, tilt steering, and intermittent wipers. The
Limited package adds the usual goodies like leather, fogs, alloys, cruise, and
tinted glass. It also lets you heap on more options, as our test vehicle had,
for power seats, satellite radio, navigation system, tow package, sun roof,
heated seats, and skid plates to armor the
Our test Jeep featured the SelecTrac full-time all-wheel drive system rather than the CommandTrac part-time system that is standard. The more fuel-efficient two-wheel-drive system isn’t available with the diesel engine, surely to the disappointment of trailer-towers and sun-belters.
2006 Jeep Liberty Limited Diesel
Base price: $25,920; as tested, $32,135
Engine: 2.8-liter common-rail turbodiesel in-line four, 160 hp/295 lb-ft
Transmission: Five-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Length x width x height: 174.4 x 71.6 x 70.2 in
Wheelbase: 104.3 in
Curb weight: 4306 lb
Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): 21/26 mpg
Safety equipment: Electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes; front and side curtain airbags; four-wheel drive with traction control
Major standard equipment: Power windows/locks/mirrors; remote keyless entry; AM/FM/CD stereo
Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles (five years/100,000 miles on diesel engine)
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