In 2002, the Jeep division of DaimlerChrysler replaced the old Cherokee with a slightly larger sport utility vehicle called the Liberty. Built at a new plant in Toledo, Ohio, the Liberty was touted as the stiffest Jeep ever, and the first with rack-and-pinion steering.
For 2005, Liberty models get a freshened exterior, including a new fascia, grille, fog lamps, fender flares and bodyside moldings. Interior modifications include relocated power-window switches and new instrument-cluster graphics and trim bezels. Jeep says the seats are more comfortable, too.
For the first time in the U.S. and Canadian markets, a diesel engine is available in the Liberty. Jeep promises class-leading torque and towing capability for the diesel, along with 25 percent greater fuel economy and reduced carbon-dioxide emissions. The diesel engine will be available in Sport and Limited models with four-wheel drive and will team with a five-speed-automatic transmission. Four-cylinder- or V-6-powered gasoline models are available.
A newly restyled Renegade model flaunts a more rugged appearance. For 2005, a six-speed-manual transmission replaces the previous five-speed unit.
Liberty 4x4 models are Trail Rated, which means they meet or exceed the minimum requirements established by the Nevada Automotive Test Center and Jeep Engineering. Trail Rated vehicles are designed to perform in five categories: traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation and water fording.
Despite the freshening for 2005, the Liberty hasn't changed dramatically in appearance. Pronounced trapezoidal wheel flares are integrated into the body, and a traditional seven-slot Jeep grille highlights the front. The vehicle was made lower in front and higher at the rear in an attempt to impart a sense of forward motion. Short front and rear overhangs allow 36-degree approach and 31.5-degree departure angles for effective offroad driving.
Liberty SUVs have a coil-spring independent front suspension and a solid rear axle with coil springs. The spare tire is mounted externally on a swing-out tailgate that features flip-up glass. Tires are available in 16- and 17-inch diameters. Available skid plates cover the fuel tank and transfer case, and an optional Trailer Tow Package yields a 5,000-pound towing capacity.
Renegades feature a new, flatter hood, a taller grille, offroad fog lamps and taillight guards. Functional rock rails and four skid plates are installed. All-terrain P235/70R16 tires and an overhead light bar are optional.
The Liberty seats up to five people. A 65/35-split rear seat can be folded down with one hand. The instrument panel features round gauges. All models have a CD player, and Renegades may be fitted with a DVD-based GPS navigation radio.
Under the Hood
A 150-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder is standard in the Sport model. A 210-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 that produces 235 pounds-feet of torque is standard in the Limited Edition and Renegade models and optional in the Sport. A six-speed-manual or four-speed-automatic transmission is available, as is rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
The new 2.8-liter four-cylinder common-rail diesel engine produces 160 hp at 3,800 rpm and 295 pounds-feet of torque at 1,800 rpm. It mates with a five-speed-automatic transmission.
Dual front airbags are standard. Antilock brakes and side curtain-type airbags are offered as optional equipment.