2003 Liberty New Car Test Drive
The Jeep Liberty offers a great balance for someone who enjoys the outdoors. On the highway the Liberty is quiet and responsive. Turn off the pavement and it can go just about anywhere. It can carry five people and their gear. Fold the rear seats and it can move some serious cargo.
Introduced as a 2002 model, the Jeep Liberty is significantly revised for 2003. Better brakes, a lowered suspension, a revised automatic transmission, and new convenience features improve safety, drivability, and comfort. A new Renegade model, introduced late in 2002, is available in a premium trim level with leather for 2003. New wheels and new colors freshen the appearance of the 2003 models.
True to Jeep heritage, the Liberty stands apart from the new generation of less-capable compact sport-utility vehicles. It doesn't ride or handle as well as some of them on the road. But the Liberty is among the best of the small sport-utilities for drivers who need serious off-road capability on the weekend, and refinement, practicality, and affordability during the week.
The 2003 Jeep Liberty is available in three trim levels, Sport, Renegade, and Limited Edition. Each is available with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Two engines are available, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 3.7-liter V6. The four-cylinder engine is only available with a five-speed manual gearbox. The V6 is available as an option with a heavy-duty five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic that has been revised for 2003 for smoother, quieter operation.
Sport 2WD models ($17,235) come standard with the four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual, a cloth interior, wind-up windows, manually operated mirrors, and 16-inch tires on steel wheels. Air conditioning ($850) is optional, but a six-speaker stereo is standard. Packages are available that add power windows and other features. The V6 is an option and can be ordered with manual ($850) or automatic ($1675). Sport 4WD ($18,745) comes standard with the V6 and automatic, but not air conditioning or power windows and locks, which are optional.
The Renegade name made its comeback to the Jeep lineup as the 2002 model year came to a close. Representing the rebellious side of Jeep, the Liberty Renegade adds special exterior and interior trim. Renegade is available in 2WD ($22,085) and 4WD ($23,695) and comes standard with the V6, five-speed manual, 16-inch aluminum wheels, air conditioning, power windows and locks, a six-disc CD changer and many other features. An automatic transmission ($245) is optional. A premium model ($1915) adds the automatic, power leather seats, and premium door trim panels. It also comes with a new overhead vehicle information center that allows the customer to program automatic locking, lighting, and other features.
Limited Edition 2WD models ($21,925) come standard with the V6 engine and automatic transmission. The Limited comes standard with air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, illuminated remote keyless entry, better interior lighting, a roof rack, floor mats, cargo cover, and a CD changer. Cloth is standard; Leather is available as part of a big option package ($1540) on the Limited that includes the programmable overhead console and Infinity speakers. Limited 4WD ($23,435) also comes with an extra skid plate to protect the front suspension.
All 2003 Liberty models come standard with four-wheel disc brakes, an improvement over last year's rear drum brakes.
Side-impact airbags ($490) are optional, but we recommend them. Serious adventurers may want the optional Off-Road Group ($765 for Sport, $520 for Limited), which includes fuel tank and transfer case skid plates, a locking rear differential, heavy-duty engine cooling P235/70R16 all-terrain tires, and tow hooks.