2012 Jeep Liberty Review

Pros & Cons

  • Considerable off-road capabilities
  • useful towing capacity
  • Sluggish V6 with poor fuel economy
  • outdated four-speed automatic
  • sloppy handling
  • subpar interior materials quality
  • poor headlight illumination
List Price Range
$6,995 - $15,998

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2012 Jeep Liberty can certainly hack it in the bushes, but it struggles on the pavement. Interior quality and fuel economy also leave much to be desired.

Vehicle overview

Patrick Henry once famously declared, "Give me liberty or give me death." We're really glad he wasn't talking about the 2012 Jeep Liberty, because it's definitely not worth ditching your mortal coil for. Frankly, it's barely worth considering since just about every rival SUV -- be it a commuter-friendly crossover or a dedicated off-roader -- is a better, more well-rounded vehicle.

The problems start with the Liberty's underpowered 210-horsepower V6. While sluggish acceleration is commonplace among compact SUVs, the four-cylinder engines found in models like the GMC Terrain at least boast good fuel economy as a trade-off. It gets even worse with the four-wheel-drive Liberty, which returns 17 mpg combined -- the same as a V8-powered Chevy Tahoe.

One could argue that Chrysler's new V6 found in the Wrangler could help things, but the Liberty's issues don't end there. To call its interior "not up to par" would imply it's playing on the same metaphorical golf course as those it competes against. On the contrary, materials are hard and cheap, the look is drab, the seats are flat and the wheel doesn't telescope, just to name a few offenses. An upgrade to the sort of interior quality seen in the impressive new Jeep Grand Cherokee can't come soon enough.

Now, it's true that the Liberty is a rugged compact SUV with the four-wheel-drive chops to get you way off the beaten path. In this way, the Liberty will look pretty good. Properly equipped, the Liberty has significantly more off-road capability than models like the Terrain or Honda CR-V and probably more than most buyers are ever likely to need.

But if it's off-road potential you want, you're probably going to be better off with the Nissan Xterra and Toyota FJ Cruiser. They're typically a little more expensive, but they offer superior off-road capabilities, better on-pavement performance and nicer interiors. Plus, if you're looking for serious off-road potential, Jeep's own Wrangler is the more obvious choice.

Ultimately, as much as we respect the 2012 Jeep Liberty for its off-road capability, we continue to have a hard time recommending it until it undergoes a redesign. In the meantime, we suggest looking at the Subaru Forester or all-wheel-drive versions of the GMC Terrain, Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4.

2012 Jeep Liberty models

The 2012 Jeep Liberty is offered in three trim levels: Sport, Limited and a new Jet model.

The entry-level Sport comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, keyless entry, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, cloth upholstery, a fold-flat front passenger seat, 60/40-split-folding and reclining rear seat, a tilt-only steering wheel with built-in audio controls, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The Driver's Convenience Group adds Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a compass and an outside temperature display. The Popular Equipment Group gets you upgraded tires, foglamps, roof rack side rails, rear privacy glass, a cargo cover, the compass/outside temperature display and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Comfort Seating Group adds heated power front seats (six-way driver, two-way passenger), driver memory functions and leather upholstery.

The Limited includes all of the above optional equipment from the Sport along with 17-inch alloy wheels, exterior chrome trim and an eight-speaker Infinity audio system. An available Tire and Wheel Group includes 18-inch chrome alloy wheels. The new Jet trim level gets you 20-inch polished alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, distinctive exterior/interior trim and a security alarm.

Every trim is available with a towing package, a panoramic cloth sunroof (Sky Slider), a traditional sunroof, rear parking sensors and an upgraded sound system (named Media Center 430) that includes a touchscreen interface, DVD audio playback and 28GB of digital music storage. A Garmin-powered navigation system with real-time traffic can be added to the Media Center 430 on the Sport. The Limited and Jet can be equipped with the Media Center 730, which is similar but features a Chrysler-sourced navigation system. The Limited and Jet can also be equipped with the Comfort/Convenience Group, which adds automatic climate control and remote ignition.

Finally, the 4WD Sport can be equipped with the Arctic package, which essentially includes the trim's other options along with 16-inch black wheels, special vinyl/cloth upholstery, extra leather interior trim, satin chrome interior trim and special badging.

2012 Highlights

The 2012 Jeep Liberty gets a new Jet trim level and a new Arctic special edition package, while all models can now be had with rear parking sensors.

Performance & mpg

The 2012 Jeep Liberty is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 210 hp and 235 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. Rear-wheel drive is standard and there are two different four-wheel-drive systems available, including the part-time Command-Trac and the full-time Selec-Trac. A properly equipped Liberty can tow as much as 5,000 pounds.

In Edmunds performance testing, a 4WD Liberty Limited went from zero to 60 mph in a sluggish 10.2 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates are 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined with two-wheel drive and 15/21/17 with four-wheel drive -- both sets are pretty disappointing considering the Liberty's sluggish acceleration.

Safety

The 2012 Jeep Liberty comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, active front head restraints and side curtain airbags. Rear parking sensors are available as an option, but front-seat side-impact airbags are not even offered. In Edmunds brake testing, the Liberty came to a stop from 60 mph in a longer-than-average 134 feet.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Liberty its top mark of "Good" in the frontal-offset and roof strength tests. In the organization's side-impact test it earned the second-lowest "Marginal" rating.

Driving

On the road the 2012 Jeep Liberty offers a tolerable if somewhat truckish ride quality. Its suspension clearly isn't well-calibrated for the street, resulting in sloppy handling with noticeable amounts of body roll. The 3.7-liter V6 doesn't help matters; it's noisy and offers lackluster acceleration. Leave the pavement behind, however, and the Liberty feels much more at home, offering the ability to take on surprisingly rugged trails. Those trails had better not be dark, though, because we've found the Liberty's headlights to be notably poor.

Interior

Inside the 2012 Jeep Liberty you'll find a utilitarian interior design made even more uninspiring with the use of cheap-feeling hard plastics. Front and rear seats aren't particularly comfortable and the tilt-only adjustable steering wheel may make it hard for some drivers to find a good driving position. Standard climate and audio controls are at least well-placed and intuitive, but the optional audio system can be fussy to use due to its small touchscreen controls.

There's also a good amount of road and wind noise, which can grow tiresome on longer drives. The available cloth Sky Slider oversize sunroof is a unique feature and seals out the elements better than you'd expect. The cargo hold offers an average amount of space, with 31.5 cubic feet behind the rear seatbacks and 64 cubic feet with them folded down.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Jeep Liberty.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

A good choice
jeffinhawaii,02/02/2012
I recently purchased the 2012 Liberty Jet edition. Over the past two weeks that I have had the vehicle, I have found it to exceed my expectations from what I have read in other reviews on line. I bought it based primarily on an emotional response - I had a 2002 Jeep Liberty that finally died. I was looking at other vehicles and then test drove the Jet. If you are looking for a vehicle that has the power, capability and look to plow through rough terrain, but then transition nicely to a luxurious ride, the Jet does it in spades. The seating is comfortable, the cabin well equipped and understandable and it really performs on and off the road. No complaints thus far.
Farmer Owned and Approved
Aaron S.,06/03/2016
Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (3.7L 6cyl 4A)
I went from a Ford Truck to this 2012 Jeep Liberty 3 years ago because I wanted a reliable 4wd that could sit 4 people comfortably with a 5,000 pound towing capacity. I bought it a year old with 29,000 miles. I too was skeptical because of the expert reviews, however the customer reviews were very positive and I was impressed on my test drives. Now that I have owned it for several years, this is by far the best vehicle I have ever owned. I have towed extremely heavy trailers and put it in places that I should not have been able to drive away from. It has literally saved my life a time or two. I have never had one thing go wrong with it. The 4 speed auto is ancient, but it is reliable. The 3.7 engine is the same way. Fuel mileage sucks, but you are paying for a capable SPORT UTILITY, not an SUV body on a Honda Fit. This was made to be a sport utility from the ground up. Only complaints I have: The backseat leg room is somewhat cramped, the front foot leg room is cramped, and the trip button on the steering wheel oddly only works half the time, however i just use the other trip button on the dash. Also, the fuel mileage but as stated earlier, it is expected. Here are my fuel mileage numbers: Average 17.04 Highest 21.81 Lowest 12.74 Overall, great vehicle for someone who wants a more capable sport utility that the status quo. Just understand what you are sacrificing in return.
It's not a compromise
jsib,08/15/2013
Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (3.7L 6cyl 4A)
Never a compromise, a pack leader. Show me another "comparable" vehicle that can tow 5000lbs, great 4x4 for my excursions and snow, looks like a royal and is a snap to clean up!?! I towed 3000lbs from Tulsa to Indianapolis at 19.1 mpg and 65mph. My friend has a V8 Tahoe and never gets better than 15 around town with some highway added in. Roomy, easy to use and a classic elegant design inside and out. Extremely happy with it and it kills me that the replacement is awful and ugly (2014 Cherokee). Jeep forums are filled with Jeep loyalist that actually love to help out. **Update** While the Jeep hasn't grown on me more than the initial months it hasn't diminished either. I went into the purchase knowing the downfalls and the only glaring unfixed downfall to mention is the suspension. After not driving the Jeep for a while I jump in and am appalled by the suspension. I am currently in a rental (2015 200C) and the same downfall exist, horrible suspension characteristics. Everything else I can attest the Jeep lives up to it's name. It hasn't been a pavement queen and getting into the Rockies is an uneventful proposition. We do not drive to the extreme but have easily driven the stock Jeep through a myriad of environments: deep sand/mud/rivers, steep ascents/descents, and pushed our level of rock crawling to hang some wheels. We do all of this loaded to the max with gear, family of four, and the dog all stuffed in or on the Jeep. The first aftermarket addition was the air filter housing which is poorly made. The next addition is an aftermarket lift/suspension upgrade from some Old Man out there. With the added benefit of a 7yr/100,000 mile warranty my boys will be driving this in ten years easy. If I am not.
The best vehicle I have ever purchased
dealer7,04/25/2012
Being 55 years old I have purchased many, many vehicles the Jeep Liberty is by far the best most logical I have ever purchased. The MPG is alot better than advertised, the ride is alot smoother than I expected ,the exterior and interior styling is great. This Jeep is built to last it will most likely last me the rest of my life. I test drove every mid size SUV on the market and found that no other manufacturer comes close to the Jeep Liberty. I let some friends take it for a trip they loved it and are now in the market for one. The Liberty was a great surprise and I am very happy I bought one.

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 2012 Jeep Liberty features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall2 / 5
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger2 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat3 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover25.6%
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
    Acceptable
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2012 Jeep Liberty

Used 2012 Jeep Liberty Overview

The Used 2012 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 Jet 4dr SUV 4WD (3.7L 6cyl 4A), Limited Jet 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 2012 Jeep Liberty?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Jeep Liberty trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Jeep Liberty Sport is priced between $6,995 and$14,998 with odometer readings between 50487 and143651 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Jeep Liberty Limited is priced between $8,775 and$15,998 with odometer readings between 45056 and123488 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Jeep Liberty Limited Jet is priced between $11,314 and$12,895 with odometer readings between 71636 and92708 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2012 Jeep Liberties are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Jeep Liberty for sale near. There are currently 20 used and CPO 2012 Liberties listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,995 and mileage as low as 45056 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Jeep Liberty.

Can't find a used 2012 Jeep Libertys you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Jeep Liberty for sale - 12 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $10,600.

Find a used Jeep for sale - 12 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $16,366.

Find a used certified pre-owned Jeep Liberty for sale - 11 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $8,838.

Find a used certified pre-owned Jeep for sale - 7 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $8,294.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 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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