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2003 Jeep Liberty Review
Heavy but athletic.
Reviewed by Automotive on
The 2003 Jeep Liberty replaces the slightly smaller Jeep Cherokee. After 18 years on the market, a change had to be made. The Jeep Liberty represents the stiffest Jeep ever made, with 45 percent better bending and 30 percent better torsional rigidity. This also marks the first Jeep vehicle ever made with rack-and-pinion steering.
The Jeep Liberty has a lot to offer, including great on- and off-road capability, a decent safety rating, and a lot of power. Buyers should go for the Liberty over the Cherokee if they have the extra cash.
Engines: 2.4-liter four-cylinder, 3.7-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: Jeep Liberty Sport, Jeep Liberty Limited, Jeep Liberty Renegade
The 2003 Jeep Liberty receives a few new updates, including a new overhead console that allows the driver or passenger to program nine different features, including those for safety and comfort. Jeep Liberty owners can program which doors unlock first when unlocking the vehicle, service intervals, and memory comfort settings. An in-dash, six-disc CD player provides an option, moving from the cargo area. The Jeep Liberty also gains four-wheel disc brakes.
The exterior of the Jeep Liberty is the product of the 1997Jeep Dakar and the 1998 Jeepster model. Both vehicles’ sheet metal molds into the Liberty. This means it has some styling oddities, but variations we can enjoy. The wheel flares look very pronounced, and the vehicle gets the traditional Jeep grille with its seven upright slots. The vehicle has a suspension that keeps the front end low to the ground and the rear end up in the air. This gives it an aggressive stance that allows the Jeep Liberty to hug the road, giving it better control in off-road situations as well.
The interior of the Jeep Liberty seats five passengers. The rear seat has a 60/35 split that folds down for extra cargo room. With all seats in place, the 2003 Jeep Liberty offers 29 cubic feet of cargo space. With the seats removed this increases to 69 cubic feet—pretty good for its class.
Standard equipment on the Sport includes cloth upholstery, bucket front seats, a split-folding rear seatback, a front console with storage, front and rear cup holders, front door pockets, power steering, a 12V power outlet, cargo floor mats, dual vanity mirrors, and an AM/FM/CD-controller stereo. The Limited receives a proper CD player, air-conditioning, and cruise control.
Performance & Handling
The 2003 Jeep Liberty comes with two different engine types. A 2.4-liter, Power Tech four-cylinder comes standard on the Sport. It produces 150 horsepower. An optional 3.7-liter V-6 engine produces 210 horsepower and 235 lb-ft of torque. This marks the standard for the Limited and Renegade. Either engine pairs with a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission. Jeep offers two four-wheel-drive systems as well: a standard part-time Command-Trac drive system or the full-time Select-Trac system.
The Liberty provides one of the best Jeep models yet. Technologically, it advances far over other models in the line. It has great off-road abilities, able to handle most of what nature throws at it. The ride in the front and back feels smooth, although a few more bumps seem noticeable in the back seat. The V-6 and automatic transmission are great, but those wanting more power may opt for the manual transmission.
The 2003 Jeep Liberty comes equipped with child anchor seats, ventilated front disc and solid rear disc brakes, rear child door safety locks, auto-delay headlamps, two front and rear headrests, a rear center three-point seat belt, a driver seat belt pretensioner, electronic brake force distribution, front integrated headrests, and rear height-adjustable headrests.
The Jeep Liberty earns four out of five stars for passenger protection in the front, and five out of five stars for driver protection. The Jeep Liberty also receives five out of five stars for front and rear side impacts. The IIHS gives the Liberty a marginal rating, its second worst, for frontal-offset tests. It receives a poor rating for rear crash and head protection.
EPA Fuel Economy
Jeep Liberty Limited: 15/20 mpg city/highway
Jeep Liberty Renegade: 15/20 mpg city/highway
- Off-road capability
- Great interior design
- Jeep at heart
You Won't Like
- Fuel economy
- Needs more carlike features
Heavy but athletic.
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