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#23

in 2010 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $12,074 - $15,035
Original MSRP: $23,255 - $28,735
MPG: 16 City / 22 Hwy
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2010 Jeep Liberty Performance

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

Its excellent off-road capabilities continue to help the 2010 Jeep Liberty stand out. Unfortunately, that extra off-road prowess means that it also continues to lag behind competitors for its on-road manners -- even with a retuned suspension in 2009.

  • "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 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 210-horsepower V6 engine is adequate enough, but test drivers still want more power in passing and merging situations. While a six-speed manual transmission was previously offered, a four-speed automatic is the only option now. Towing capacity ranges from 3,500 to 5,000 pounds depending on equipment, which is good for a compact SUV.

For more power in an off-road model, consider the Nissan Xterra and its 261-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Another possibility is the Ford Explorer, which boasts an optional V8 engine that pushes out 292 horsepower. Take note though, that the extra power brings poor fuel economy with it.

The Liberty's fuel economy is good for an off-road SUV, but extremely low when compared to all compact SUVs. According to the EPA, the 2WD model nets 16/22 mpg city/highway, while the 4WD model nets 15/21. Improvements for 2010 may help matters somewhat -- the Liberty gets a standard fuel shut-off system that saves fuel when the vehicle is decelerating. It also gets a fuel-saving indicator to notify the driver when the vehicle is being driven in a fuel-efficient manner.

  • "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 often times requires a deep stab of the throttle in order to coax a downshift for more power." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Acceleration from the 3.7-liter V6 is anemic, which isn't surprising -- it's down about 50-60 hp relative to other V6-powered compact SUVs." -- Edmunds
  • "Jeep's unrefined 3.7-liter V6 is the sole engine for the...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...Jeep Liberty with competitive peak power and torque while providing smooth, quiet operation and proven durability." -- 4Wheel & Off-Road

Handling and Braking

The 2010 Liberty continues to lag far behind competitors in the on-road handling department. If you don't need an off-roader, the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V both offer better on-pavement driving experiences and cost slightly less than the Liberty. If going off-road is in your plans, consider the Nissan Xterra for a more refined on-road ride along with off-road chops.

  • "The 2010 Jeep Liberty rides comfortably enough, but its on-road handling abilities disappoint, with vague steering and pronounced body roll." -- Edmunds
  • "Isolation from bumps and broken surfaces is good given these Jeeps' off-road prowess. Some road surfaces induce mild bucking, and sharp bumps register, though not harshly." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Liberty offers quick, precise steering with moderate effort and produces a pleasant overall feel." -- Cars.com

Off-Roading

If there's one reason to buy a Liberty, it's for its excellent off-road capabilities. The Liberty comes standard in rear-wheel drive, but offers two Jeep Trail-Rated four-wheel drive options. The Command-Trac system is standard on 4WD models, while the Selec-Trac II Active Full-Time system is a $445 option. A $225 Skid Plate Group protects the SUV's undercarriage with skid plates for the front suspension, fuel tank, transfer case and transmission.

The Liberty is one of the least expensive off-road SUVs. However, an even cheaper option is the Jeep Patriot, which starts at less than $20,000.

  • "To its credit, the Liberty is well-qualified for off-road activities, boasting a robust chassis, impressive ground clearance, steep approach angles and proficient four-wheel-drive systems. These attributes allow the Liberty to scamper over rugged terrain that would leave a Honda CR-V quaking in its boots." -- Edmunds
  • "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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