Rental Car Reviews: 2006 Jeep Liberty

jeep libertyAs Yogi Berra said, “It’s like Deja Vu, all over again”.  The Jeep Liberty is one of the weirder driving experiences you will ever have… Set the wayback machine for 1970!

Here’s the deal.  I have about 350 miles to drive, and the vehicle of choice for this trip is a Jeep Liberty, pretty much right down to the color a match for the picture here.  4 wheel drive and all, not really important for this clear day and flat run down the highway, but a clear feature and right there.  It includes a low range, this is a Jeep and it will go off road with the best of them.

Anyway, I hop in bright and early in the morning, and head down the road.  within 3 minutes, my back is screaming in pain.  The seating position is horrid!  The only adjustments are seatback angle and forwards and backwards, and with much effort, I was able to find a position that didn’t feel like a torture rack.  Make not mistake, these are not the good seats.  It feels like 1970.

The seats aren’t the only reminder of this way back design layout.  The roof feels low.  The seat feels high.  The windshield seems small.  The doors are narrow.  The door glass is particularly narrow and short, a result of combining the low roof with the high beltline and the large metal wrap area on the doors.  These windows are pretty much a dead match for a 1980 or so cherokee.

Around the interior you will find Chrylser corporate bits all around, heating, radio, and pretty much every control is 100% corporate parts bin stuff.  Not that it is a bad thing but the interior as a result is pretty much generic Chryco stuff.  The cup holders are decent, but poorly placed at the back of the center console, where you have to take your eyes off the road and look down to pick up or drop off your beverage of choice.  The radio sounds okay, and everything else pretty much seems to be about right, in the functional sort of a way.

The really weird thing is the feeling I got of vertical.  Everything in this truck is up and down and narrow.  There is very much space in the front seats, but the distance to the windsheild feels a bit short (and it is, touching the glass while in a driving position isn’t much of a stretch, there is maybe only 3 inches from the edge of the dashboard to the glass).  Because you are sitting pretty straight up, you sort of tower over the interior, which adds to their weird feeling.

Rear seats have the same feeling, but legroom is generous as a result, because you tend to sit like a school chair, not sprawled out like some cars.  Comfort back there isn’t any better than the fronts, and the only inclining these seats do is to lay down to extend the cargo area.  That Cargo area is a little shorter than you might want, considering that it is a truck.  The rear overhang is quite short, which is a good thing.

The whole driving feel of this truck is vintage Cherokee Cheif as well.  Rear wheel drive combined with a compliant off road acceptable suspension means that there is a fair bit of movement.  In fact, there is enough play that you can wiggle the wheel back and forth slightly at highway speed and make the body of the truck dance without having the truck do anything but stay straight.   This is guaranteed to get your co-pilots and passengers slapping you in the head, as they will be sea sick within seconds.

Overall, unless you are really, really caught on the idea of major offroading, I would say that there are any other number of mini-utes on the market that would outdoor this truck, including the RAV4 and such…   It isn’t a horrible vehicle, but not one I would see myself buying as primary transport.