2010 Jeep Liberty Sport 4X4Posted on March 22nd, 2010
Mid-sized sport utility vehicle with full off-road capability
By Nina Russin
Off-road driving is the heart and soul of Jeep, going back to the brand’s World War II Willys roots. Today most models in the Jeep line-up still carry the automaker’s trail rating, which certifies capability to traverse extreme off-road terrain and ford deep water.
The Liberty is Jeep’s mid-sized sport-utility vehicle, positioned between the compact Wrangler and full-sized Grand Cherokee. Its longer wheelbase makes it slightly less maneuverable on trails than the Wrangler; none-the-less, the Liberty is fully off-road capable.
The Liberty’s larger passenger and cargo areas suits families with children better than the Wrangler. At the same time, the Liberty is small and light enough to offer decent fuel economy: about 17 miles-per-gallon on average.
The Liberty can easily hold a couple of road bikes with the second-row seats folded flat. An optional towing prep package gives the SUV 5000 pounds of towing capacity: well in excess of our minimum ALV standards.
The current model is the second generation, which rolled out two years ago. This year, engineers enhanced the Liberty’s gas mileage with a fuel shut-off feature that cuts fuel during deceleration. The concept is similar to that used on the Dodge Durango hybrid, which cuts out fuel delivery to certain cylinders when power needs are low. An “eco” lamp in the gauge cluster helps the driver adjust his style to maximize fuel economy.
Active head restraints are now standard, as it stain repellent fabric, which makes it much easier to keep the interior of the car clean.
Base price for the Liberty sport is $24,865, not including a $745 destination charge. A towing prep package on the test car adds a bigger engine cooler, trailer sway control, wiring a hitch/receiver, and a full-sized spare tire ($545).
An off-road option package includes skid plates to protect the fuel tank, transmission, transfer case and front suspension ($225). Roof rails are part of an option package that also adds tinted glass, cruise control, fog lamps and a tonneau cover ($995). Jeep’s full-time four-wheel drive system costs $445.
Versatile enough for urban commuters
Its longer wheelbase makes the Liberty more stable at speed than the Jeep Wrangler. Four-wheel drive vehicles tend to suffer from poorer fuel economy than front or rear-wheel drive. Other than that, the Liberty should meet the needs of small families, including the ability to commute through thick traffic.
My test drive included surface streets and highways in the Phoenix metro area, as well as a drive down the Bush Highway east of town. The hilly two-lane road is one of Arizona’s great scenic drives, passing through desert and around Saguaro Lake. The highway sees more traffic now than in former years, since a major interstate intersects the south end. Still, the scenery can’t be beat, especially when the cacti are in bloom.
Engineers were able to utilize unibody construction to give the Liberty a passenger car feel, while maintaining enough torsional rigidity for off-road driving. An independent front suspension and live rear axle is standard. The solid axle is less compliant than an independent setup, but functions better when the vehicle tows a trailer.
Small front and rear overhangs give the Liberty the approach and departure angles necessary for off-road driving. Minimum ground clearance is 7.8 inches: plenty for clearing obstacles on trails or dirt roads
The 3.7-liter V-6 engine provides adequate power, especially in the critical 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range for merging into traffic. Its low compression ratio allows the engine to run on 87 octane fuel. A standard time chain in lieu of a belt saves owners an expensive maintenance procedure at about 60,000 miles.
The four-speed automatic transmission doesn’t offer the fuel economy of a five or six-speed box, but shifts smoothly, without noticeable shift shock on steep grades. A two-speed transfer case provides the low gears necessary for uneven off-road trails.
The four-wheel drive system provides a 42/58 front-to-rear power ratio on dry roads, to mimic rear-wheel drive performance. The system automatically transfers engine power to the wheels with the best traction on trails or wet roads.
Engineers developed a rack-and-pinion steering system robust enough for off-road applications. It gives the vehicle much better response on winding roads than worm gears. The Liberty handled the sharp turns on the Bush Highway with ease.
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock braking stop the car in a firm, linear fashion.
Visibility is pretty good around the car. As with all high-profile vehicles, there are large blind spots in the back corners. Buyers should consider the optional rear park assist system, which sounds an audible alarm if it senses obstacles to the back of the vehicle.
Standard stain-resistant upholstery makes it easier to clean up dirt from the trailhead or a spilled drink. The Liberty’s interior seats up to four adults: floor-mounted cupholders behind the center console eat up most of the legroom in the middle position. While there isn’t an abundance of legroom in the outboard positions, average-sized adults should be comfortable.
I found the manual driver’s seat adjustments easy to use. Lower lumbar support was adequate for my three-hour test drive. A tilt steering column helps smaller drivers to maintain a clear forward view.
Front-row passengers have ample access to cubbies and bottle holders. The front doors have map pockets, and there are two large cupholders in the center console, big enough for twenty-ounce bottles. A glovebox and two-piece center console bin provide concealed storage.
Audio and temperature controls in the center stack are easy to reach from either front seating position. A control next to the gear shift lever shifts the vehicle between two- and four-wheel drive.
Two overhead reading lamps up front and a dome lamp in the cargo area illuminate the interior at night. I found the white-on-black gauges easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions.
The rear seats fold flat in a 60/40 pattern to extend the cargo floor, making the Jeep Liberty bicycle-friendly. An under-floor cargo storage tray is made of washable rubber: it’s a handy place to conceal smaller items at the trailhead. Optional roof rails on the test car make it easy to install a gear rack up top.There is a rubber step pad on the rear bumper for loading overhead luggage.
The Jeep Liberty comes standard with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction and electronic stability control. Chrysler’s five-year/100,000 mile warranty includes 24-hour towing assistance.
Chrysler builds the Jeep Liberty at its Toledo, Ohio assembly plant.
Likes: A fully off-road capable sport-utility vehicle with enough passenger and cargo space to function as an only car for a family with children. The Liberty can tow up to 5000 pounds when equipped with the optional towing prep package, and meets our ALV bicycle-friendly standards.
Dislikes: Lack of legroom in the middle-rear seat.
Model: Liberty Sport 4X4
Base price: $24,865
As tested: $28,045
Horsepower: 210 Hp @ 5200 rpm
Torque: 235 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 15/21 mpg
8 responses to “2010 Jeep Liberty Sport 4X4”
jack reed May 4th, 2010 at 13:54
can you pull behind a RV?
I’m not sure if you are asking if the Liberty can tow a RV, or if it can be towed behind one. Our towing criteria for this web site has a 3500 pound minimum, which includes some but not all trailers.
It’s good to have a vehicle that is versatile, both on the road and off. I think the towing concern is a good point though.
It is really crazy that you wrote about this. I found you on bing and I had been searching for info about this. Nice blog, thanks for the info.
What kind of roof rails should I buy for this model? It looks like it comes from the factory with a continuous rack system with no holes in it, if you know what I mean.
I went on the Jeep site and found a link which might help: http://www.jeep.com/en/2010/liberty/exterior/roof_rails_carriers/
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