2004 Liberty New Car Test Drive
The Jeep Liberty offers a great balance for someone who enjoys the outdoors. Day in and day out, it takes the place of a car or wagon: The Liberty seats four comfortably and can carry up to five people and their gear. Fold the rear seats and it can move two people and some serious cargo. Turn off the pavement and it can go just about anywhere.
True to Jeep heritage, the Liberty offers serious off-road capability. In this respect, it stands apart from the herd of compact sport-utility vehicles, few of which offer true off-road capability. The Liberty gives up some refinement and road agility to do this. On the road, it does not ride or handle as well as some of the other small SUVs. But the Liberty is among the best of the small sport-utilities for drivers who need serious off-road capability on the weekend yet need refinement, practicality and affordability during the week.
Just two years old, the Liberty debuted as a 2002 model. It was significantly improved for 2003 with improved on-road stability. The 2004 model offers further, substantial upgrades in safety equipment, and in comfort and convenience options. For example, Chrysler's Enhanced Accident Response System (EARS), which unlocks doors and turns on interior lights five seconds after an airbag deploys, is standard for 2004. New options include a tire-pressure monitor; and UConnect, a clever bit of hardware and software which integrates your cell phone into the Liberty's stereo system.
The 2004 Jeep Liberty is available in three trim levels: Sport, Limited Edition, and Renegade. Each is offered with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive (4WD). Two engines are available: a 2.4-liter inline-4 and a 3.7-liter V6. The four-cylinder engine is only available with a five-speed manual gearbox. The V6 is available with a heavy-duty five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic that was revised last year for smoother, quieter operation.
Sport ($18,060) and Sport 4WD ($19,570) come standard with the four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, cloth interior, wind-up windows, manually operated mirrors, and 16-inch tires on steel wheels. A six-speaker stereo with CD player is standard. Air conditioning ($850) is optional, however. Power windows and other features can be added as options. The optional V6 is available with manual transmission ($850) or an automatic ($1,675).
Limited Edition models offer upgraded interior amenties and a better grade of cloth upholstery. Limited ($22,750) and Limited 4WD ($24,260) come standard with the V6 engine and automatic transmission. Leather is available as part of a big option package ($1,145) that also includes a programmable overhead console, power seat adjusters, deep-tint glass, power heated side mirrors, a security group, and an AM/FM/cassette/CD stereo with steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and Infinity speakers. On 4WD Limited models, the same package ($1,690) includes Jeep's SelecTrac full-time four-wheel drive.
Renegade is a specialty model with a roof-mounted light bar, rock-rail protection, and black body-side moldings. Renegade 2WD ($22,910) and 4WD ($24,520) models come standard with the V6; heavy-duty five-speed manual transmission; air conditioning; cruise control; tilt steering; 16-inch graphite-painted aluminum wheels; power windows, mirrors, and locks; illuminated keyless entry; roof rack side rails; and many other features. Renegade 4WD models include a skid-plate package. Automatic transmission ($825) is optional. A premium package ($1,240) adds the automatic, power leather seats, and upgraded door trim panels, along with an overhead vehicle information center that allows the customer to program automatic locking, lighting, and other features.
Side-impact airbags ($490) are optional on all Liberty models, and we highly recommend them. Serious 4WD adventurers may want the optional Off-Road Group ($765 for Sport, $520 for Limited), which includes skid plates for the front suspension, fuel tank and transfer case; a locking rear differential; heavy-duty engine cooling; P235/70R16 all-terrain tires; and tow hooks.