The 2012 Jeep Liberty sees no suspension or powertrain changes, so it drives the same as the 2009 model, which is to say not so well. It won’t be as capable as a Wrangler Rubicon off-road since there are no locking differentials offered, but the Liberty is a convenient size on the trail. If Jeep dropped in the excellent Pentastar V-6 and a more advanced transmission (read: a gearbox with more than four forward gears) in the Liberty, it might even have pretty solid credentials for road driving. The Liberty will soldier on until 2013 when a Fiat-based vehicle replaces it. If you’re the type of driver who requires off-road capability and wants a proven platform, the Liberty is a reasonable choice. There’s some aftermarket support that can enhance its off-road capability, although nowhere near the same support Wrangler enjoys, and it’s not a terribly expensive vehicle. Buy now if you fear the level of four-wheel-drive capability will decrease once the Liberty moves to a Fiat platform. Shoppers who don’t plan on venturing off-road would be better served with one of the Liberty’s pavement-optimized competitors.

Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim levels: Sport, Limited, Limited Jet
Body style: SUV, 5-passenger
Engine: 3.7L V-6, 210 hp, 235 lb-ft
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 105.5 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 2000-5000 lb; cargo (rear seats up/down) 25.2/60.9 cu ft

This year the Renegade model is discontinued, and five new colors will be available — mineral gray metallic, canyon brown pearl, rescue green pearl, true blue pearl, and black forest green pearl. The Sport model now offers Jeep’s Uconnect system, a compass and an exterior-temperature gauge, an overhead console, and Sirius/XM satellite radio. The Limited Jet model costs $795 less for 2012.

ABS, front and side curtain air bags, traction and stability control, and tire-pressure monitoring are standard. Trailer-sway control is included with the optional trailer-tow package that is available on all Libertys.

All: 15-16 mpg city/21-22 mpg highway

  • Optional full-length sunroof
  • Tough-looking
  • Road and wind noise
  • Mediocre powertrain

Soldiering on for another year.

  • Ford Escape
  • Honda CR-V
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Mitsubishi Outlander

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