It had just rained for three days straight and our fresh-off-the-truck 2002 Jeep Liberty Limited test vehicle was pointed directly at a deep mudhole. What would you do?
On sale since May 2001, the Liberty is Jeep's newest vehicle and the replacement for the aged Cherokee. It evolved from the Dakar and Jeepster concept vehicles ('97 and '98, respectively) and features design themes from each, such as a large greenhouse, short front and rear overhangs, high roofline, rear-mounted spare tire and 16-inch alloy wheels below pronounced wheel flares. It also borrows from the past. (A Jeep marketing rep told us the Liberty is a bloodline descendent of the original Jeep Willys, which helped to "liberate" hence the name Europe during the Second World War.) The Liberty carries the trademark Jeep grille with seven vertical rectangles as well as the traditional Jeep round headlamps.
The Liberty Limited is powered by a 3.7-liter V6, which produces an impressive 210 horsepower at 5,200 rpm. Combined with 225 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm, it's enough to rumble the small sport-ute over terrain ranging from a 300-foot muddy incline with a slope as steep as 45 degrees to an undulating quarter-mile trail set with large boulders.
On this last obstacle, which mimics the famous Rubicon Trail in northern California, we set the Liberty in four-wheel-drive low this feature alone distinguishes it from other small SUVs such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape which use permanent all-wheel-drive systems with no low-range gear.
The Liberty had no trouble navigating the hellish track. At one point, we stopped the Liberty while straddling a ditch. The right rear wheel rested on a large boulder. The left front tire sat on solid ground. The left rear wheel was hanging with enough empty air under it to erect a tent. We had to jump from our seats, as it was a good 3 feet to the ground. Viewed from the rear, the fully stressed axles formed a big X. When we clambered aboard and drove off, there was no hesitation, and the Liberty carried us safely to pavement. It was an impressive, if not sensational, demonstration of the Liberty's off-road abilities.
Having driven the Jeep Wrangler (one of the world's most capable off-road vehicles) on some gnarly trails, we think the Liberty possesses every bit as much off-road acumen. Its exceptional crawling ability is due, in large part, to its 3.7-liter V6.
Surprisingly, the Liberty's dirt-munching prowess doesn't result in a rigid, unforgiving and sluggish ride in the city. During a cruise on the freeway, we punched the accelerator while traveling 60 mph, and the Liberty took off with surprising verve. On city streets, we never needed to put our foot in it because the V6 provides adequate power to stay with, if not ahead, of traffic.
In the fall of 2001, Jeep will offer a Liberty with a 2.4L inline four-cylinder engine that produces 148 hp and 158 foot-pounds of torque. It will only be sold with a five-speed manual transmission. We expected the four-banger to be a dog in the somewhat porky Liberty (at 3,857 pounds, the Liberty is more than 700 pounds heavier than the nearly identically sized Ford Escape), but with a little stirring of the gearbox, it has fairly peppy performance. It's certainly enough thrust for drivers who rarely drive outside the city. And since the V6 engine is an $850 option and the automatic transmission costs $825, it's a substantial savings. Likewise, drivers who live in warm, dry climates probably don't need four-wheel drive. It costs $1,510.
In addition to speedy performance, the Liberty's independent front suspension, coil-link rear suspension (borrowed from the Grand Cherokee) and more than 8 inches of suspension travel combine to provide a supple and quiet ride that is truly impressive. The smoothness with which the Liberty conveys itself is also aided by its portly weight and its stiff uniframe construction, which combine to dampen vibration, reduce flex and imbue a confidence-inspiring feeling of substance and solidity. The Limited's large P235/70R16 tires also help to cushion the ride. During a drive on rippled pavement, the Liberty floated over every bump, relaying almost no bouncing and rattling to the cabin. When we struck a large pothole, the 8 inches of suspension travel absorbed the shock before it reached our kidneys.
Though forgiving, the suspension also delivers plenty of road feel and precise handling. Sometimes vehicles engineered to provide a comfortable ride have vague feel and mushy steering. However, the Liberty's rack-and-pinion steering system, independent front suspension and beefy control arms convey a solid feel for the road and provide immediate response to driver input with minimal roll in tight corners. The result is a vehicle that's a pleasure to pilot around the city and in which to cruise on extended road trips.
Also, the large greenhouse, forward-sloping hood and elevated driving position (ground clearance is 10.1 inches a RAV4 is only 6.7 inches) enhance visibility. Parking is also a snap because, at 174.7 inches, the Liberty isn't long.
The newest Jeep also includes one of the niftiest cargo gate innovations we've seen. When you pull on the rear latch, the glass flips up and the gate swings open all in one motion. This eliminates the need to have two hands free to access the rear cargo area, meaning you won't have to put your groceries on the ground while you struggle with the gate. There's 31.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the second-row seats up and 69.5 with them folded down. (Standard capacities for a small SUV.) The rear seats are 60/40 split and fold nearly flat via a single release lever. The cargo area features several recessed tie-down hooks, and the Limited includes a cargo cover.
We also like what Jeep has done inside the Liberty. Our top-of-the-line Limited test vehicle was loaded with leather-faced, heated, six-way power low-back bucket seats with adjustable headrests. Though it's nice to have leather, we found it a little slippery. While navigating a long corner, our legs were scrambling for support. Conversely, the attractive and high-quality cloth upholstery that comes standard on the Limited held us in place more firmly. The base and Sport models have high-back cloth seats that are also comfortable, but not as figure-hugging as those in the Limited.
Window controls are mounted on the center console, which also contains two large cupholders. The center stack is a new design for the Liberty and features large, simple climate control switchgear and an easy-to-operate stereo.
Spheres are a recurring motif in the Liberty's design. Outside, the head- and taillights are round, as is the fuel door. Inside, air vents, gauges, stereo and climate controls, speaker covers and the door handle are also spherical. The whole cabin has a sculpted, modern look. In the Limited, the Liberty's contemporary flair is emphasized by the brushed-chrome trim around the center stack, floor-mounted gear lever, door locks and ivory-colored instrument gauges. Also, the round, brushed-chrome door pulls remind us of details found in the cockpit of the Audi TT, a design tour de force.
The top-of-the-line Liberty Limited with 4X4, upgraded stereo, fog lamps, color-coded exterior, chrome interior details, bucket leather seats and other goodies is $25,625. The entry-level Sport 4WD model includes power windows, locks and doors; air conditioning; tilt steering; and keyless entry and costs $21,890. When it arrives in the fall of 2001, the base two-wheel-drive Liberty will start at $17,035. (All prices include $585 destination charge.)
So, did we splash through the mudhole? Of course. The Liberty is a Jeep, after all.
2002 Jeep Liberty Overview
The 2002 Jeep Liberty is offered in the following submodels: SUV. Available styles include Limited 4dr 4WD SUV (3.7L 6cyl 4A), Sport 4dr 2WD SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M), and Limited 4dr 2WD SUV (3.7L 6cyl 4A). Liberty models are available with a 3.7 l-liter gas engine or a 2.4 l-liter gas engine, with output up to 210 hp, depending on engine type. The 2002 Liberty comes with four wheel drive or rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic, 5-speed manual. The 2002 Liberty comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 7 yr./ 70000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a used 2002 Jeep Liberty?
Price comparisons for used 2002 Jeep Liberty trim styles:
The 2002 Jeep Liberty Sport is priced around $4865 with average odometer reading of 90346 miles.
The 2002 Jeep Liberty Limited is priced around $4082 with average odometer reading of 143220 miles.
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How do people like the 2002 Jeep Liberty? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2002 Jeep Liberty and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2002 Liberty 4.2 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2002 Liberty.
Review am reporting review (138141727) (Jeep Engine Failures due to Valve Seats) because My daughter bought a 2002 Jeep Liberty 1 month ago. We changed the oil and I had her check it every two weeks since the vehicle was new to her. She did as I said for a couple weeks and said it used none. She is very diligent at watching her mileage to plan oil changes ever 3000 miles. She went to work and the engine started to knock. She checked the oil and found it 3 quarts low and got no low oil warning. We took it to a shop and it needs a new engine. We found out no reputable salvage yard wants to sell the engine due to a known oil gear issue, so they will not even warranty one with low miles. A rebuilt motor with the oil gear issue fixed costs $3200.00. With labor my daughter is looking at $4500.00 to replace an engine with only 119000 miles. I searched the internet on 2002 Jeep Liberty 3.7 engine. I found many complaints regarding the blown motor. The average seems to be 96000 miles. Many people online said they contacted jeep and they said they were SOL. I don't expect a new engine for nothing, but when the average vehicle today does 250000 miles by most manufacturers and Toyota is at 400000. I would like to see an American company doing everything it can to create customer loyalty. Thank You, Steve
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2002 jeep liberty Limited 4dr 4WD SUV (3.7L 6cyl 4A), 4-speed automatic, regular unleaded 16 combined MPG 14 city MPG/18 highway MPG
2002 jeep liberty Limited 4dr 2WD SUV (3.7L 6cyl 4A), 4-speed automatic, regular unleaded 16 combined MPG 15 city MPG/19 highway MPG
What options are available on the 2002 Jeep Liberty?
Available Jeep Liberty 2002 Submodel Types: SUV
Available Trims: Renegade, Limited, Limited Edition, Limited Jet, Sport
Exterior Colors: Brilliant Black Crystal Pearlcoat, Inferno Red Crystal Pearlcoat, Light Khaki Metallic Clearcoat, Stone White Clearcoat, Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearlcoat, Atlantic Blue Pearlcoat, Bright White Clearcoat, Mineral Gray Metallic Clearcoat, Dark Charcoal Pearlcoat, Jeep Green Metallic Clearcoat, Flame Red Clearcoat, True Blue Pearlcoat, Bright Silver Metallic Clearcoat, Light Graystone Pearlcoat, Dark Khaki Pearlcoat, Blackberry Pearlcoat, Red Rock Crystal Pearlcoat, Deep Beryl Green Pearlcoat, Deep Water Blue Pearlcoat, Light Sandstone Metallic Clearcoat, Midnight Blue Pearlcoat, Natural Green Metallic Clearcoat, Steel Blue Pearlcoat, Atlantic Blue Pearl Coat, Black Forest Green Pearlcoat, Modern Blue Pearlcoat, Black Clearcoat, Salsa Red Pearlcoat, Stone White Metallic Clearcoat, Winter Chill Pearlcoat, Deep Molten Red Pearlcoat, Bronze Star Pearlcoat, Cactus Green Pearl Coat, Canyon Brown Pearlcoat, Shale Green Metallic Clearcoat, Cactus Green Pearlcoat, Patriot Blue Pearlcoat, Timberline Green Pearlcoat, Woodland Brown Satin Glow
Interior Colors: Dark Slate Gray leather, Medium Slate Gray cloth, Pastel Slate Gray cloth, Dark Slate Gray premium cloth, Medium Slate Gray, Khaki cloth, Pastel Pebble Beige cloth, Dark Slate Gray cloth, Khaki, Dark Slate Gray, Dark Slate Gray/Light Slate Gray, Pastel Pebble Beige leather, Dark Khaki/Light Graystone premium leather, Pastel Pebble Beige premium cloth, Dark Khaki/Light Graystone, Dark Slate Gray/Light Slate Gray premium leather, Light Taupe/Dark Slate Gray, Dark Slate Gray/Dark Olive leather, Dark Slate Gray/Dark Saddle leather, Taupe
Popular Features: Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Aux Audio Inputs, Post-collision safety system, Sunroof/Moonroof, Alarm, Power Driver Seat, Heated seats, Trip Computer, Leather Seats, 3500lb Towing Capacity, Bluetooth, Towing Hitch, Navigation, USB Inputs, Remote Start, Upgraded Stereo, Auto Climate Control, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Parking sensors, AWD/4WD, Upgraded Engine, 5000lb Towing Capacity, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Electronic Folding Mirrors