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2005 Jeep Liberty Test Drive Review

The 2005 Jeep Liberty is a capable off-roader and can handle daily driving with ease.

6.7 /10
Overall Score

Jeep’s pint-sized SUV, the Liberty, is now three years into its first generation on the market in the United States. Three powertrains are available for the 2005 model year. The first is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. The first optional engine is a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. A 2.8-liter turbodiesel inline-four is available that makes 160 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

The Jeep Liberty Sport's four-cylinder engine comes only with a six-speed manual transmission and no option to add an automatic transmission, which comes standard with the V6. The diesel comes with a five-speed automatic with overdrive. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive is available.

The Liberty slots into the Jeep lineup as one of its smallest vehicles. It's smaller than a Grand Cherokee and not quite as hardcore as a Wrangler, but carries many of the most popular styling elements from both.

Three trims are available: Sport, Renegade, and Limited. The Liberty competes with the Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V, Nissan Xterra, Ford Escape, Kia Sportage, and Toyota RAV4. It is targeted at new-car buyers that want a compact SUV with legitimate off-road capabilities.

Look and Feel

7/ 10

The Liberty straddles the line between everyday usability and off-road capabilities, and mostly does that well. It carries many of Jeep’s most recognizable design elements, such as the upright slat grille, fender flares, round headlights, and rear tailgate-mounted spare tire, but it’s not as rugged or unrefined as the brand name might suggest. It’s got a smoother, friendlier, design that reflects its multi-purpose position in the Jeep lineup.

Inside, the Liberty is surprisingly roomy and is more than happy hauling four full-sized adults and a couple of dogs far into the woods. The front seats are well-padded and soft, but also feature bolstering deep enough to keep backsides in place. The rear seats are comfortable as well, and benefit from the Liberty’s boxy shape, which doesn’t let the roofline slope too drastically toward the rear of the vehicle.


7/ 10

The gasoline four-cylinder engine and its exclusive five-speed gearbox pair well, and provide ample power for most situations. Things get significantly more interesting with the available 3.7-liter V6 under the hood, which is smooth, refined, and responsive. The available diesel engine gets good fuel economy and provides solid low-down torque that is needed to power over off-road obstacles. The diesel also provides a 5,000-pound towing rating.

The Liberty’s off-road chops do come at the expense of some comfort, however, as there’s a bit more disruption over rough roads than is expected. Steering is easy and predictable and braking is confidently solid, but it’s hard to ignore the Liberty’s suspension and the difficulties it has remaining composed over bumpy roads.

Form and Function

7/ 10

The Liberty offers a sizable cargo hold, with up to 29 cubic feet of space behind the back seats. The tall roof makes loading large items in and out easy, and folding the seats down more than doubles the available room to 69 cubic feet of cargo space. That's pretty impressive as far as small SUVs go.

The Liberty starts to fall down a bit in the convenience department. Its upright shape and narrow doors make it difficult to enter and exit the vehicle. They also complicate the child-seat loading process and make it more likely that there will be bumped heads and annoyed kids. Legroom in Liberty models is also limited because of its straight-up shape.

Tech Level

6/ 10

Standard tech in the 2005 Jeep Liberty includes remote keyless entry, an AM/FM stereo with CD player, air conditioning, six speaker audio system, and a 12-volt power outlet. Optional features include power windows and door locks, SiriusXM Satellite radio, a light bar, a DVD-based navigation system with integrated six-disc CD changer, tire pressure monitoring display, a sunroof, fog lamps, an Infinity premium six-speaker stereo, and power front seat adjustments.

The Liberty is quite bare from the factory, in terms of tech, but that’s not that surprising a factoid for a wannabe off-roader. That said, the functionality that it does have works well, and is easily controlled while the vehicle is in motion.


6/ 10

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) took a critical view of the Jeep Liberty, rating it "marginal" for moderate overlap front crashworthiness and "poor" for its headlights. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wasn’t convinced either. It rated the sport utility with mixed four- and five-star scores for front passenger side and front driver side crashworthiness, respectively. Rollover resistance scored similarly poorly, at just three stars out of five.

Standard safety equipment includes advanced multi-stage driver and front-passenger airbags and an occupant classification system. Available features include tire pressure warnings, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, and supplemental side airbags.


7/ 10

The Jeep Liberty starts with an MSRP of under $20,000 and doesn’t move up a significant amount from there. That’s not a surprise, though, because in most of its forms the Liberty is hard to call well-equipped. It does have a rugged personality and 4-wheel drive capabilities that many of its competitors don’t have, which will be enough to overcome the stripped down nature of the vehicle for many people.

Gas mileage isn't the worst, but it's not going to win any awards, either. The V6 powertrain delivers 17/21 mpg city/hwy, which is acceptable when comparing it against the competition only because of the engine's larger size.

Updated by Chris Teague

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