Our long-term Liberty CRD has been returned to the folks at Jeep. As we handed the keys to the Jeep representative, we're pretty sure we could hear our accounting department weeping. This is due to the fact that the Liberty CRD consistently returned outstanding mpg numbers, thus making the little five-passenger SUV very easy on the bottom line.
But fuel isn't the only operating expense that came in under budget. During our year-long test, we spent a paltry $346.17 in scheduled maintenance, and that included oil changes (using pricey Mobil 1 synthetic, no less), tire rotations, and a front and rear diff lube change. Heck, we've spent far more than that in one single visit for some other long-termer vehicles. All of the maintenance was completed by Jeep dealer Bryden Motors in Beloit, Wisconsin, and they were always quick, polite, and thorough.
When a vehicle returns exceptional fuel mileage, one often tends to expect lackluster performance. Such is not the case with the Liberty CRD. Everyone who drove the SUV commented on the gutsy little 2.8L VM Motori four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, which is no slouch in the power department. One tester called it a "happy little Italian tractor engine," which is in reference to its outstanding torque. While the engine is a tad less refined than diesels found in other passenger cars, it isn't aggravatingly noisy or vibratory by any means, and at cruising speed you'd be hard pressed to guess it's a diesel.
The Liberty spent its last few months with us based in Los Angeles. Through this time it saw a few ticks over 1,000 miles-mostly prowling traffic-choked streets. This is why the average mileage for this last report is lower than in past reports. During this time, one tester did note a bizarre incident in which the accelerator pedal became completely unresponsive during a left-hand turn at a busy intersection. The tester noted that the vehicle wouldn't respond to throttle inputs until the engine had been shut off and restarted. The problem never surfaced again.
As our time with the Liberty ends, we're saddened and excited at the same time. We're sad that (due to new emissions standards) the CRD engine has been discontinued in the Liberty. On the other hand, we're excited that murmurings from DCX point to more "clean" diesel offerings in vehicles of this type.
REPORT: 4 of 4
Previous report: Apr. '06, July '06, Nov. '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: 16,382
Miles since last report: 1,067
Average mpg (this report): 17.1
Test best tank (mpg): 28.7
Test worst tank (mpg): 16.4
None this period
Problem areas: There are recalls in effect covering the torque converter (can cause audible rattling and eventual transmission failure if not corrected) and lower ball joints
WHAT'S HOT, WHAT'S NOT
HOT: Very good fuel mileage; ample power; fun to drive; great visibility; inexpensive to operate
NOT: Limited suspension travel; poor ground clearance; small navigation system screen; jarring ride on rough pavement
* "A nice dabble into diesel technology."
* "Finally, an affordable light-duty diesel."
* "Turbo lag when cold-she needs to warm up before you hit the skinny pedal hard."
* "Great cruising range-around town I can go a month between fill-ups."
* "The infuriating navigation system is less so after the steep learning curve."