2009 Jeep Liberty Review

Pros & Cons

  • Respectable off-road abilities, simple and functional cabin, high towing capacity, decent luggage space, brawny image.
  • Weak and thirsty engine, not as carlike to drive as most rivals, subpar interior materials, poor headlight illumination.
List Price Estimate
$3,198 - $4,694

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Edmunds' Expert Review

In true Jeep form, the 2009 Liberty remains a champ off-road. But despite further improvements to ride and handling, most competitors are superior in terms of everyday drivability, fuel economy and overall refinement.

Vehicle overview

Higher gas prices in 2008 have made compact crossovers increasingly popular. People are coming to realize that even if they can't live without that high, commanding seating position, they probably don't need an enormous vehicle to go along with it. Jeep would seem to be ideally positioned to help these folks out, as the brand offers not one, not two, but three small SUVs. The longest-serving and probably the best well known of the bunch is the 2009 Jeep Liberty.

As the most macho of this Jeep trio, the Liberty boasts a robust chassis, steep approach angles, impressive suspension articulation and proficient four-wheel-drive systems. Combined, they allow the Liberty to tackle the type of rugged terrain that a Honda CR-V would scurry away from. The Liberty's off-road image and attendant styling treatment also set it apart from the rounded, often cutesy compact crossovers with which it competes.

Unfortunately, the Liberty is not nearly as well-suited for on-pavement use as other vehicles in this segment. Although ride and handling have been improved for 2009, this compact Jeep still isn't as comfortable, controllable or generally "carlike" as models like the CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4. Materials quality is also a low point. To its credit, the Liberty does offer a few novel features like digital music storage, driver-seat memory and the Sky Slider roof, which is a sliding canvas panel that exposes most of the cabin to the elements.

For those who want a small SUV that stakes out the middle ground between off-road vehicle and family-friendly compact crossover, the 2009 Jeep Liberty may be worth a look. However, we think the Liberty requires too many compromises on both sides of this equation. Any of the other above-mentioned vehicles will likely be better choices for most folks, while those truly in need of an off-roading rig will want to check out Jeep's own Wrangler as well as the Nissan Xterra and Toyota FJ Cruiser.

2009 Jeep Liberty models

The 2009 Jeep Liberty is a compact SUV available in Sport and Limited trim levels. Both can be had with either rear- or four-wheel drive. Standard equipment on the Sport includes 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, automatic headlamps, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a 65/35 split-folding rear seat, a trip computer and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio. The Popular Equipment Group is optional for the Sport, and it adds roof rails, cruise control, upgraded cloth upholstery, a fold-flat front passenger seat, foglamps, rear privacy glass and a cargo cover.

The Limited comes standard with the Sport's Popular Equipment Group and tacks on 17-inch wheels, a power driver seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an eight-speaker upgraded stereo that also adds steering-wheel controls.

Other optional items are grouped in a confusing array of packages. The optional Premium Sound Group adds a six-CD changer and Bluetooth, while the Premium Group I adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power front passenger seat, remote engine start and driver memory settings. The Premium Group II includes all the Premium Group I items plus 18-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, automatic climate control and automatic wipers. Also optional on the Limited with the Premium Group II is the uconnect hard-drive-based navigation system, which includes real-time traffic, digital music storage, a USB audio jack and Bluetooth. Optional on both trims are a towing package, a sunroof and the Sky Slider full-open cloth roof.

2009 Highlights

Following a redesign last year, the 2009 Jeep Liberty gets additional tweaks to improve handling and braking. Optional package content has also been adjusted, and the Limited trim gets upgraded interior materials.

Performance & mpg

Both Jeep Liberty trims can be equipped with rear-wheel drive or a choice of two 4WD systems -- part-time Command-Trac or full-time Selec-Trac. All Liberty models are powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic is the lone transmission choice. Properly equipped, the Liberty can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Fuel economy numbers are lackluster. The 2WD Liberty returns an EPA estimated 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined, while 4WD drops each number by 1 mpg.

Safety

Antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, electronic roll mitigation and side curtain airbags are all standard on the 2009 Jeep Liberty. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Liberty a perfect five-star rating in both front and side impact crashworthiness. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Liberty its highest rating of "Good" for frontal offset impacts; however, the Liberty received the second-lowest "Marginal" rating for side crash protection.

Driving

The 2009 Jeep Liberty exhibits better on-road manners, thanks to some suspension tweaks following last year's redesign. Don't get us wrong, though -- there's still plenty of body roll to contend with. Like other Jeeps, the Liberty receives top marks for its off-road prowess, and its long suspension travel helps to tame larger bumps on paved roads, too. The Liberty's unspectacular acceleration would be tolerable if it achieved good fuel mileage, but it doesn't -- quite the opposite, actually. Also, during night driving, we found that the headlights were insufficient and inconsistent in their coverage.

Interior

The 2009 Liberty's cabin has all the design flair of a cinder block -- it's angular and comes in varying shades of gray. The materials in the base Liberty are also on par with a cinder block, though the Limited gets some welcome improvements in this department for 2009, including additional padded and leather-wrapped surfaces. Regardless, most competitors feature a more welcoming and higher-quality environment. On the bright side, most of the Liberty's controls are straightforward and easy to find.

After last year's overhaul, the Liberty is now bigger and therefore more spacious for passengers. Rear legroom and shoulder room are particularly improved. The seats are rather slablike, though. Luggage space is quite good with 31.5 cubic feet with the rear seats raised and 64.6 cubic feet with them lowered. These numbers fall between those of larger compacts like the Toyota RAV4 and smaller ones like the Saturn Vue.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2009 Jeep Liberty.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Things to know
herc,04/17/2014
People say they used to drive a crossover and don't like the Liberty ride. The first thing to know is that the Liberty is a real Jeep. It will not ride like a car based crossover. That said, it actually does pretty darn good on regular roads. Our Liberty has 90k miles and the drive train has been solid. No squeaks or rattles. Overall our Jeep has been reliable. We've owned Hondas and other brands so being objective here. Items that will likely be a problem sooner or later on the Liberty include automatic climate controller, trans cooler, and totally integrated power module (when this goes bad the car seems haunted). Wife loves driving the Liberty year round. We would buy another one.
Safety first
Sarah,08/27/2016
Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (3.7L 6cyl 4A)
I was in an accident last night in my 2009 Jeep liberty. We are all okay but got hit from the back while we were at a dead stop and the other driver of a E350 van plowed into the back of us sending us into another vehicle. My back window blew out not in, I felt so safe in this vehicle and I would not want to have been in anything else. I'm so happy I bought this vehicle. It was tough and amazing in the snow. The sky slider was good after we had a dealer fix it. If you live in NY NEVER buy a vehicle from Armory Garage in Albany. My air bags did not go off and they should have, but that is okay because it probably would have made things worse. This was my first vehicle ever and probably the best one I have ever had. I highly recommend the jeep liberty.
Jeep
Jeepers,04/25/2010
I traded in my 97 140k mile Grand Cherokee for the 09 Liberty. In the 140k miles I drove that car it had NO problems. Those who rag on the Liberty's gas mileage should go buy themselves a hybrid and keep moving.I was looking for an upper-teen's priced SUV that was fun to drive, dependable, and didn't look like a soccer mom drove it. The comparing cars (ie: Rav4, Forester, CR- V) looked and felt unappealing to me. The Liberty drives great and comes with some nice options like the 30GB multimedia storage for mp3s/jpegs, internal CD burner, usb port, voice command, bluetooth, satellite radio, sunroof, ect. The outside is stylish and the off-road capabilities are top of the line. Glad I went Jeep
My money pit of a car
Lisa,02/15/2010
I bought my 2009 Jeep Liberty used 6 months ago. It was on a company lease program for 6 months before that. Since I have owned it the defrost as stopped, the back window gate latch broke and needed replaced and now the BIGGIE the transmission has gone!! and since I'm the second owner no life time warranty on it.... Fresh out of college and this is my first car. I researched this car it was my dream car I thought. I hate it....

Features & Specs

MPG
15 city / 21 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
210 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
16 city / 22 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
210 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
15 city / 21 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
210 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
16 city / 22 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
210 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 2009 Jeep Liberty features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Marginal
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Poor
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2009 Jeep Liberty

Used 2009 Jeep Liberty Overview

The Used 2009 Jeep Liberty is offered in the following submodels: Liberty SUV. Available styles include Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (3.7L 6cyl 4A), Sport 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 4A), Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (3.7L 6cyl 4A), and Limited 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 4A).

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Jeep Liberty?

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Which used 2009 Jeep Liberties are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 2009 Jeep Liberty?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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