story and photos by Steve Legel
On my way to cover Mopars on the Strip, in Las Vegas, Nevada (story coming soon), I met a great group of Mopar enthusiasts, saw great scenery, and can favorably report on a home grown, American made production car, the Jeep Liberty.
Caravans were arranged with meeting points at Gilbert (Phoenix) AZ, Nephi (Salt Lake City), UT, Grand Junction, CO, and Albuquerque, NM. I arranged a flight from Detroit (my home) to Denver, Colorado, where I picked up a 2012 Jeep Liberty. My route took me through northern Colorado along I-70 from Denver to Grand Junction, where I met up with the caravan group.
My Jeep Liberty was no elegant Chrysler 300 or high power 2012 Charger SRT in bold Toxic Orange paint. I was assigned a bland silver base model with stock 3.7 liter 6 cylinder engine and automatic transmission. While snow capped mountains and towering cliffs would make awesome backdrop for high end Chrysler product, the Jeep Liberty nevertheless looked right at home in the mountain terrain.
A snow capped peak is visible as I round an up hill bend. The Jeep's auto transmission downshifts in a deliberate manner and the engine delivers a determined acceleration as we climb the steep inclines ahead.
The short wheelbase and high center of gravity of the Jeep line, coupled with a stiffer suspension and off road rating, did not give the harsh ride I expected. Poor road conditions are amplified, but quickly dampened, and on smooth roadways, the high sight line and green house visibility are highly rated. The Jeep traveled the increasingly steep and tightly curved terrain with confidence though not in a panther like way, of say a Viper. And that is not a criticism by any means. I noticed no body roll even in the steep tight turns on Colorado 91 (the Road To the Top of the Rockies) leading to the town of Leadville.
Back on the interstate and westward to Grand Junction, we climb the Colorado Rockies, as the Jeep downshifts to pass the semi trucks slowly clambering over the mountain crests. I encountered some winds driving through the narrow ravines. Even with the Jeep's nearly vertical grill and windshield, I noticed no buffeting, nor was there any wind noise leaking around any of the four doors and windows. In fact, the Jeep was pretty quiet with no squeaks or rattles. The controls are clearly labeled and in easy arm's reach for driver or front seat passenger.
While not lavishly equipped, the Liberty had the essentials we come to expect, remote key fob lock control, courtesy delay interior lights, cruise control and power seat. The arm rests, though fixed position, were truly the right height for my arms. I had plenty of headroom for my 6 foot frame. There was only one power outlet (I remember when cars had cigarette lighters). I had no problem with the car's height but some one more petite than I or a lady in a dress might find the ground to seat height awkward. I was challenged by the headlight switch mounted on the left side blinker arm and the wiper controls mounted on the right arm. Since the car had a floor shift on console, I managed to always turn on the wiper washer trying to put it in park.
Through the San Isabelle Forest the road unwinds ahead. Around each curve and through passes and divides, the Jeep's 3.7 takes on the uphill task, and on long steep downhill stretches, the brakes confidently control the downhill momentum.
I give high marks to the 2012 Jeep Liberty. Certainly not intended to be a performance or luxury car, it fit the bill as a well appointed, comfortable, sturdy utility vehicle. Gas mileage in the real world, including city, mountain and expressway was respectable. You sit high in the vehicle with excellent visibility. Ride is smooth with dampened road defects. I would consider it for my college age daughters or next time I need an everyday driver.
See the 2008 Allpar.com Jeep Liberty review
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