At the Fiat-Chrysler business plan meeting on November 4, 2009, the Jeep Liberty was said to be getting a refresh for 2010. So what's new? Larger floor mats, a cabin air filtration system, an "ECO" lamp in the instrument cluster, and an auto-up passenger window. The most significant changes are leather seat trim, heated seats, and Bluetooth for the Limited model. In my book, those changes don't amount to a refresh. They're the normal tweaks that Jeep should be making every new model year.
What the Liberty desperately needs is the new 3.7-liter Pentastar V-6 that makes 80 more hp than the current engine. It also needs a new transmission with more than four forward gears. I was also bothered by the poor seating position with a seat that's too high and a steering wheel that is too far away. While some call the sliding fabric roof a gimmick, to me it's a feature that is a perfect match for the Jeep brand.
We're slated to get a new Liberty in 2013, to be built on a Fiat platform. Let's hope there's a wholesale improvement to the powertrain, the interior, and the styling. Jeep has proven that it can balance on-road practicality with off-road ability with the new Grand Cherokee and what it needs with the Liberty is a vehicle that delivers similar character in a slight smaller, less luxurious, more affordable package.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor