For 2006, the Jeep Liberty adds electronic stability control as standard equipment, and drops the inline four-cylinder gasoline engine that was the base powerplant in 2005. The diesel engine is available on the Sport and Limited; the Limited receives a standard six-way power driver’s seat with optional leather, heated seats and six-way power passenger seat; and there are two new exterior colours, Inferno Red and Midnight Blue.

Available as the Sport, Renegade and Limited, the Liberty offers a 3.7-litre V6 with six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions, or the optional 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, which uses a five-speed automatic. Two four-wheel-drive systems are available: Command-Trac is a part-time system with shift-on-the-fly high-range 4WD; Select-Trac is a full-time 4WD system that can be used on any road surface, and also has shift-on-the-fly functionality.

The Liberty starts as the Sport, which includes air conditioning, assist handles, CD player with six speakers, 16-inch steel wheels with full-size spare, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, speed-sensitive power locks, power windows and mirrors, fog lamps, keyless entry, roof rack side rails, tilt wheel and variable intermittent wipers.

The Renegade has a flatter hood and taller grille than the Sport or Limited, and includes moulded-in colour fender flares, freestanding fog lamps, tow hooks, tubular side rails, all-terrain tires, cruise control, deep tint sunscreen glass, 16-inch aluminum wheels and body-colour grille.

The Limited adds a chrome grille, painted fascias and bumpers, sill cover, power six-way driver’s seat, leather-wrapped wheel, security alarm, cargo cover, 17-inch aluminum wheels with performance tires, and lock-up torque converter.

Sized between the rugged TJ and the more luxurious Grand Cherokee, the Jeep Liberty offers an upright driving position with excellent visibility, a surprisingly small turning radius, and plenty of cargo space for its size. It works well off the beaten path, but has a very choppy ride on the asphalt, thanks to its short wheelbase. The four-cylinder’s demise is not lamented, but the V6, while strong, is relatively thirsty for its size; the diesel is a good fuel-sipping alternative.

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