2006 Liberty New Car Test Drive
Tougher and more trailworthy than most compact SUVs, the Jeep Liberty offers a good compromise between road worthiness and off-highway capability. Day in and day out, Liberty works like a car or wagon. It seats four people comfortably and can carry up to five and their gear. Fold the rear seats and it can move two people and some serious cargo.
Turn off the pavement, and Liberty can negotiate most trails with confidence. True to its Jeep heritage, Liberty offers superior off-road capability that sets it apart from the herd of compact urban cute-utes. True, the Liberty gives up some refinement and road agility to do this. 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 want serious off-road capability on the weekend yet need practicality and affordability during the week.
The mid-range Renegade looks the part, with its flatter hood, taller grille, off-road foglamps and taillamp guards. Renegade also features functional rock rails and skid plates. All-terrain tires are optional, as are GPS navigation and an overhead light bar.
But the economy-priced Sport and luxury-grade Limited models are plenty capable as well, and offer something the Renegade does not: the only diesel engine available in a compact or mid-size SUV. Liberty's 2.8-liter turbo-diesel uses advanced common-rail technology for low emissions, maximum economy, and performance to make you forget all about gasoline.
All-new for 2001, Liberty was extensively updated for 2005, with more comfortable seats and a more contemporary appearance. For 2006, all Liberty models come with Jeep's Electronic Stability Program (ESP), anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Roll Mitigation, and all-speed traction control.
The 2006 Jeep Liberty is available in three trim levels: Sport ($20,970), Renegade ($22,860), and Limited Edition ($24,410). Each is offered with two-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD).
The standard engine in all Liberty models is a 3.7-liter V6. A six-speed manual transmission is standard in Sport and Renegade. A four-speed automatic is optional ($825) on those models and standard on Limited. (The base four-cylinder model has been discontinued.)
Optional on Sport 4WD and Limited 4WD ($1,360) is a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbo-diesel that comes with a five-speed automatic. Liberty diesels also come with a bigger battery, P225/75 tires, 16x7-inch aluminum wheels, and an engine block heater.
Standard on all 4WD models is Command-Trac, a conventional part-time four-wheel-drive system with a two-speed transfer case. Full-time Selec-Trac is optional ($395) on all three trim levels, and retains a low range for serious off-roading.
Sport 2WD and Sport 4WD ($22,480) are entry-level models, although they do come with air conditioning, tilt steering, power windows, power mirrors remote keyless entry, engine immobilizer, six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, gray fender flares, P225/75 tires on 16-inch steel wheels and, as we mentioned earlier, ABS, electronic stability control (ESP), and traction control.
Renegade 2WD and 4WD ($24,370) add unique Trexx cloth upholstery, speed control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, deep-tinted sunscreen glass, vanity mirrors, and 16-inch aluminum wheels finished in Mineral Gray Metallic. Special exterior trim includes free-standing submersible halogen fog lamps, accent-color fender flares, tubular roof rails, functional rock rails, and tow hooks.
An Off-Road Group for four-wheel-drive Sport ($475) and Renegade ($375) adds heavy-duty engine cooling, P235/70 all-terrain tires, tow hooks, and skid plates for the front suspension, fuel tank, transmission and transfer case.
The Luxury Group ($1,245) for Renegade adds leather seats with power adjustment, upgraded inside door panels, power heated foldaway mirrors, and an overhead console with HomeLink transmitter and a vehicle information center (VIC) that allows the customer to program automatic locking, lighting, and other features.
Limited Edition 2WD and 4WD ($25,920) add upgraded seats and interior trim with satin-silver accents, security alarm, cargo compartment cover, P235/65 all-season tires on 17-inch Sparkle Silver aluminum wheels, and a spare-tire cover. Fender flares are body-color. Limited deletes Renegade's rock rails but adds lots of exterior brightwork.
Leather for Limited is available as part of a big Customer Preferred option package ($1,575) that includes the programmable overhead console, power seat adjusters, deep-tint glass, power heated outside mirrors, a security group, and an AM/FM/6CD stereo, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and Infinity speakers.
Options for all Liberty models include a Trailer Tow Group ($365), Trac-Loc locking rear differential ($285), power sunroof ($700), Sirius Satellite Radio ($195), and a tire-pressure monitor. GPS navigation ($1,500) and UConnect with Bluetooth ($275) are available on Renegade and Limited ($1,500). Sport buyers can add some of these features as stand-alone options or as part of other option packages.
Safety features add to the Liberty's appeal. Standard on all models is an Electronic Stability Program (ESP), which enhances driver control and helps maintain directional stability under all conditions. Anti-lock brakes (ABS), all-speed traction control (TCS), a four-wheel Brake Traction Control System (BTCS), Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM), and Brake Assist are also standard.
Curtain airbags designed to protect outboard occupants from head injury in side impacts are optional ($490) and we strongly recommend getting them. The front airbags, which come standard, are multi-stage and will deploy with less force during low-speed collisions or if t.