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2005 Jeep Liberty CRD Limited Review and Test Drive

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on November 1, 2006
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When our diesel-powered Liberty arrived at our doorstep in mid-December '05, we paid $2.49 per gallon for its first fill-up of fuel (in California). Six months later, after fuel prices lunged upward, we were paying approximately $2.93 per gallon (in Illinois). As fuel prices increased, so did our affection for the Liberty. Its ability to carry five persons plus cargo while returning an average of 23.3 mpg is commendable. When you factor in its cruising range of over 400 miles between fill-ups and the darn impressive torque and overall power of the 2.8L VM Motori four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, the Liberty CRD becomes even more attractive.

It seems that we're not the only ones who like the Liberty CRD. Somewhere along the line, a pesky rodent decided to "do lunch" on the fuel injector wiring harness. We're not kidding. The little monster wolfed down portions of the wiring routed above the transmission. There are two wires going to each of the four fuel injectors, and it had almost completely eaten through several of them. The wiring damage resulted in a steady stream of "check engine" lights and a few weird electrical quirks that drove us nuts until the technicians at Bryden Motors (our local Jeep dealer) in Beloit, Wisconsin, tracked down the elusive problem. Gobs of gratitude go out to the unrelenting team at Bryden Motors for solving and repairing the problem just hours before the Liberty was due to leave Illinois for a 2,000-mile jaunt to California.

On the stretch of Interstate 80 from Sidney, Nebraska, to Little America, Wyoming, the Liberty returned 28.7 mpg, which is its best mileage tank so far. This was moving right along at 75 mph too. And as we mentioned before, the four-cylinder turbodiesel engine is no slouch in the power department. We had big fun blowing by laboring traffic on the long hills of Wyoming, and the engine had no problem generating ample power to pull our heavily laden Liberty on the long grades of I-80 outside of West Wendover, Nevada.

The Liberty CRD will spend the rest of its time with us based in southern California, where it will undoubtedly be in demand by staffers looking for an economical and agile trail/highway vehicle. Stay tuned.

Previous report: Apr. '06, July '06
Base price: $23,325
Price as tested: $30,505
Four-wheel-drive system: Lever-actuated two-speed with full-time/part-time capability

Miles to date: 15,315
Miles since last report: 6,809
Average mpg (this report): 23.3
Test best tank (mpg): 28.7
Test worst tank (mpg): 16.4

12,000-mile service: Lube, oil and filter; tire rotation; front/rear differential fluid change
Cost: $247.75
Problem areas: Rodent damage

Hot: Overall visibility; fuel mileage; easy-to-maneuver size
Not: Jarring ride on rough pavement; limited suspension flex and ground clearance

* "Love the 400-mile cruising range."
* "The navigation screen is kinda small and it's placed a bit low in the center stack."
* "The big windows offer excellent visibility."

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