Our brand new, 2002 Jeep Liberty Sport showed up
on a Wednesday, which gave us a few days to drive it around
town and get a real feel for it before heading off to the
trails that weekend. Our KJ was the Sport model and was a
very attractive Dark Garnet Red Pearl Coat, with Taupe interior.
(See sidebar for full specs)
model starts at $17,960, however, the Liberty we got was maxed
out with options and had a sticker price of $27,440. We had
to wonder why they didn't just send us a Limited, considering
the price difference would have been only $1095 more for a
similarly-equipped model. The Limited would have also gained
us leather seats ($250 more gets you heated seats), HomeLink®
Universal Transceiver and mini-trip computer, and a fancier
on Our Test Vehicle
Trailer Tow Group - Class III Receiver and 7 to 4 pin
- Security Group - Alarm, Sentry Key, removable rear cargo
- Off Road Group - Trac-Lok, P235/70R16 OWL Goodyear SR-A
All Terrain Tires, Fuel Tank Skid, Transfer Case Skid,
Tow Hooks, Heavy Duty Engine Cooling
- 27B Package - A/C, power windows and locks, powered
mirrors, keyless entry with remote, roff rack, tilt steering,
full-size spare tire, illuminated vanity mirrors, floor
mats, cargo trim panel with storage net, rear power outlet,
- Brakes - 4 Wheel Anti-Lock
- Air Bags - Side, Supplemental
- Transmission - 4 Speed AUtomatic (45RFE)
- Selec-Trac Full Time 4WD System (NV242)
- 3.7L Power Tech V6
- Glass - Deep Tint Sunscreen
- Mirrors - Power heated, Fold-Away
- Sunroof - Power
- Fog Lamps
- Engine Block Heater
- Speed Control - Leather wrapped and cruise control
- Radio - AM/FM, Cass/CD/Equalizer/Changer Control
- Speakers - Six, Premium Infinity with controls on the
- CD Changer - 6 Disc with remote swing gate control,
trim panel with storage net
- Wheels - 16x7 Cast Aluminum
In and Checking it Out
I was taking delivery of the Liberty in a parking lot downtown,
people began to circle the Jeep and ask questions. This would
turn out to be the norm for the next seven days.
found once inside the Liberty, was that the interior is somewhat
spartan. While the Limited model offers a slightly fancier
dash than our Sport, there was a very current look and feel
to everything. The instrument cluster has white-backed faces
during the day and at night you see green digits and needles.
Very sporty, indeed. The dash had a sort of grayish carbon
fiber texture to it, which was kind of odd. Real "fake"
carbon fiber would have looked stellar, but this just had
an odd look it. Not a bad look, mind you, it just struck me
funny, I suppose.
noting is that the Liberty has little to no storage space
for the driver and front passenger. Because of the round styling
throughout the dash, there are no flat spots to sit anything.
We had nowhere to put our GPS or even a set of sunglasses
or a tube of Chap Stick, for that matter. You get two cup
holders and that's it. Nowhere else to put stuff, other than
the glove box or center console. In fact, if you have two
large drinks, the cups sit against each other, causing a real
and present danger of knocking the lid off when you pick one
up. This is also the case in the new TJ's.
inside the Liberty is within arm's reach and is laid out well
with the exception of the power window controls, which are
clustered in the center console. Even after a week, reaching
for them in the right place and pushing or pulling them in
the right direction never became second nature. It was weird
and I didn't like it. There's just no other way to put it.
Windows are part of the door and that's where the controls
which I really enjoyed (after figuring it out) was the wheel-mounted
radio controls, which are on the backside of the steering
wheel. Once I learned the buttons' functions and could think
through them each time, it became a joy to make volume changes
or switch CD's, tracks, or radio stations. To top it off,
the six speaker Infiniti stereo rocked. Turning up the stereo
to hearing-damaging levels proved to be a very clear and powerful
experience. In fact, I swore there was a subwoofer on-board,
but there wasn't.
got tunes, what's next? Jeep claims that the air conditioning
in the Liberty is a newer, quieter model. I guess I just can't
imagine how rushing air under pressure can be any quieter,
but I suppose the sound level of the a/c was just fine. What
mattered was that it blew cold, and it certainly did that
just fine. The circular air vents in the center of the dash
worked well at aiming the air where I wanted it, however,
I wished that they rotated like those found in a Grand Am,
taking off, I also played with the sunroof. I've never had
one so I had to read the directions to understand its two
settings, which were either vent or various states of open
interior of the Jeep is round and stylish, but rather
spartan in the places-to-put-stuff category.
interior of the Limited model is a little snazzier than
front facia of the Liberty has the familiar 7 grill
slats and an updated look derived from the Icon and
Jeepster concepts from the late 90's
fog lights are surrounded by lots of plastic body-cladding.
rear of the Liberty is quite different than anything
else in the Jeep lineup. We like it.
rear "flipper gate" is a neat new conept.
Just watch your chin!
tail lights are a very distinguishing feature of the