Jeep Liberty’s big news for 2005 is a 2.8-litre common-rail diesel, common on the brand in Europe but a first for North American-spec Jeeps. Tough but smooth, and a miser on fuel, the diesel is available on the Sport and Limited packages and comes with a five-speed automatic. The company estimates a range of 772 km on a tank of fuel.

Other 2005 features include a freshened exterior with new fascias, bumpers, grille and bodyside mouldings; a new hood and unique grille on the Renegade; new wheel choices; a new optional cargo organizer; air conditioning and power windows made standard on Sport; new second-row dome lamps; new fabrics and interior colours; and available UConnect hands-free cellular capability.

The Liberty comes in three lines, starting with the Sport. It includes the new air and power windows, cloth seats, CD player with six speakers, power mirrors, 16-inch wheels, four-wheel disc brakes and Command-Trac part-time 4WD system.

The mid-range Renegade adds premium cloth seats, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, tire pressure monitoring system, and tow hooks.

The top-line Limited adds a cargo cover, low-back bucket seats, 17-inch wheels, spare tire cover, and with the automatic transmission, Selec-Trac part-time/full-time 4WD system.

Sized between the rugged TJ and the luxury Grand Cherokee, the Jeep Liberty offers an upright driving position with excellent visibility, a surprisingly small turning radius that makes it agile both when off-roading and in parking lots, and plenty of cargo space for its size, including a separate lift-up rear window for tossing items inside. With the optional off-road package (Trac-Lok differential, heavy-duty cooling, all-terrain tires and a skid plate) the Liberty can hold its own when taken off the beaten path. It isn’t as comfortable as some competitors on the asphalt, with a very choppy ride thanks to its short wheelbase. Both gasoline engines are relatively thirsty for their size. Because it’s missing a left footrest, some drivers will find it uncomfortable on long drives.

The Liberty is built in Toledo, Ohio.

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