2005 Liberty New Car Test Drive
The Jeep Liberty offers a good 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's able to negotiate most trails with confidence.
True to Jeep heritage, the Liberty offers legitimate 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 practicality and affordability during the week.
For 2005, the Liberty gets a new engine and two new transmissions. With the addition of an advanced, 2.7-liter common-rail diesel engine, Jeep becomes the first midsize SUV available with a diesel engine in the U.S. The Diesel is backed by a five-speed overdrive automatic transmission. A new, six-speed manual transmission replaces the previous five-speed manual.
The Liberty Renegade has seen the most change for 2005, having been fitted with a flatter hood, taller grille, off-road foglamps and taillamp guards. The Renegade now has functional rock rails, four skid plates, and new options, such as taller P235/0R16 all-terrain tires, a GPS navigation radio and an overhead light bar.
The fresher appearance extends across all 2005 models. All receive a new front fascia, grille, foglamps fender flares, and body side-moldings. Interior refinements include relocated power window switches, new instrument panel cluster graphics, and improved seat comfort.
The 2005 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).
Three engines are available: a 2.4-liter inline-4, the 2.8-liter turbo diesel, and a 3.7-liter V6. The new diesel engine is available on both Sport and Limited models. The four-cylinder engine is only available with a six-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. A five-speed automatic is standard on the diesel.
Sport ($19,190) and Sport 4WD ($20,700) are entry-level models, but receive visual changes for 2005 that add the look of custom details. Both Sport and Sport 4WD come standard with the four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission, cloth interior, wind-up windows, manually operated mirrors, and 16-inch tires on steel wheels. Command Trac, a part-time 4WD system, is standard, as is a six-speaker stereo with CD player. 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). The Common Rail Diesel, or CRD, is available for the Sport 4x4 ($24,515).
Limited Edition models offer upgraded interior amenties and a better grade of cloth upholstery. Limited ($23,525) and Limited 4WD ($25,035) come standard with the V6 engine and automatic transmission. Air conditioning is standard. Limited 4x4 is available with the diesel engine ($26,734).
Leather is available as part of a big Customer Preferred option package ($1,576) 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. The diesel version includes a bigger battery, P225/75 tires, 6x7-inch aluminum wheels, four-wheel antilock brakes, and an engine block heater. Other options include the Trailer Tow Group ($285), a Trac-Loc locking rear differential ($285), power sunroof ($700) and Sirius satellite digital radio ($195). While the tire pressure monitor and simple warning signal are standard, a roof-mounted tire pressure display, which shows the actual pressure at each wheel, is optional ($75).
Renegade 2WD ($22,910) and 4WD ($24,520) models come standard with the 3.7-liter V6, six-speed manual transmission and Command-trac part-time 4WD system. Renegade comes standard with air conditioning; cruise control; tilt steering; 16-inch graphite-painted aluminum wheels; power windows, mirrors, and locks; illuminated keyless entry; side rails; and many other features. Renegade 4WD models include rugged tubular side rails and rock rails. 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.