in 2009 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $11,511 - $14,110
Original MSRP: $23,015 - $27,730
MPG: 16 City / 22 Hwy
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2009 Jeep Liberty Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2009 Jeep Liberty continues to stand out for its excellent off-road capabilities, but it also continues to lag behind for its on-road manners -- even with a retuned suspension for 2009.

  • "For 2009, the Liberty gets stiffer rear axle shafts, and the shocks, springs, anti-roll bars and steering have all been retuned, which Jeeps says will provide an improved ride." -- Cars.com
  • "All-new independent front suspension, all-new five-link rear suspension, and a power rack-and-pinion steering system contribute to the all-new 2008 Jeep Liberty's blend of on-road ride comfort and nimble, confidence-inspiring handling." -- 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • "The Liberty is truck-like in its maneuverability, and it even seemed sluggish and had difficulty accelerating when I switched out of four-wheel drive. Its four-wheel drive didn't perform nearly as well as I expected on the muddy river that's normally my street." -- Mother Proof
  • "The 2009 Jeep Liberty SUV delivers an improved ride and road feel, thanks to a retuned suspension and updated braking system, and continues to excel as an off-roader, with a choice of two available Trail-Rated four-wheel-drive systems." -- Car Gurus

Acceleration and Power

The Liberty's 3.7-liter V6 engine is adequate enough, but test drivers still want to see a more powerful engine option. While a six-speed manual transmission was previously offered, the four-speed automatic is the only option for 2009. The Liberty's fuel economy is disappointing all-around. According to the EPA, the 2WD model nets 16/22 mpg city/highway, while the 4WD model nets 15/21.

  • "Liberty is no ball of fire but moves along well enough. Acceleration in 4WD versions is OK from a stop, but passing and merging require planning. The automatic transmission works smoothly enough, but it often times requires a deep stab of the throttle in order to coax a downshift for more power." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Jeep's unrefined 3.7-liter V6 is the sole engine for the 2008 Liberty, so forget about the Nitro's hotter 4.0-liter or the old Liberty's common rail diesel option." -- Autobytel
  • "We've been disappointed by Chrysler's coarse 3.7-liter SOHC V-6 in its other applications, and 210 hp out of that amount of displacement is nothing to cheer about." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The 3.7-liter SOHC V-6 engine provides the 2008 Jeep Liberty with competitive peak power and torque while providing smooth, quiet operation and proven durability." -- 4Wheel & Off-Road

Handling and Braking

Thanks to last year's redesign, the 2009 Liberty is smoother on the road than the 2007 model. However, it still lags far behind competitors in the handling department. Even so, Jeep has attempted to remedy that with a retuned suspension for this year.

  • "Liberty never lets you forget that it's a truck. Body lean is prevalent, and the tires squeal even in modest cornering. Steering feel is nothing special. The brakes on one test model had dull, wooden pedal action, and simulated panic stops caused moderate nosedive." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The steering is heavy and numb, and the Liberty exhibits considerable body roll around corners." -- Edmunds
  • "The Liberty offers quick, precise steering with moderate effort and produces a pleasant overall feel." -- Cars.com


If there's one reason to buy a Liberty, it's for excellent off-road capabilities. The Liberty comes standard in rear-wheel drive, but offers two Jeep Trail-Rated four-wheel-drive systems in part-time and full-time modes.

  • "Jeep showed just how tough it is, 'blasting' rocks off its 2008 Jeep Liberty in a pouring rain outside the convention center of the New York auto show. As news media huddled on bleachers under a leaking cover and looked on, a silver-colored, new Liberty rose from the rock-strewn debris." -- MSN
  • "I'm happy to report that this is a real Jeep that loves to go mountain climbing with the best of them." -- The Family Car
  • "We've found the Liberty capable of handling fairly gnarly trails. We've crossed steep ditches and gullies, where its short front and rear overhangs paid off. Its tight turning radius is helpful where space is limited, something we discovered while weaving through a stand of tightly spaced trees. We clambered over big rocks and fallen trees and slowly forded boulder-strewn creeks with 18 inches of rushing water." -- Automotive.com

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