The Toledo-made Jeep Liberty isnít recommended by Consumer Reports, much less on the magazineís list of best new cars and trucks for 2002.
Instead, one of the Libertyís competitors - the Toyota RAV4 - was named Consumer Reportsí best small sport-utility vehicle. That vehicle and two competitors - the Subaru Forester S and the Honda CR-V EX - come with recommendations in the magazineís annual auto issue, which subscribers are receiving this week.
The magazineís April issue gave the Liberty Sport with a V-6 engine an overall rating of "good" among small SUVs, ahead of the Suzuki Grand Vitara JLX+, Chevrolet Tracker, Nissan Xterra SE, and Kia Sportage EX. Besides the RAV4, Forester S, and Honda CR-V EX, however, the Hyundai Santa Fe GLS, Ford Escape XLT, Mazda Tribute LX, Saturn Vue, Land Rover Freelander SE, and Suzuki XL-7 topped the Liberty Sport in the overall ratings.
Consumer Reports, a leading magazine many people look to before buying a car, isnít granting interviews on the Liberty, a spokesman said yesterday. A full report on the new made-in-Toledo vehicle is scheduled for the May issue.
On safety, Consumer Reports gave the Liberty an overall score of "good," and the SUV got the same rating for accident avoidance and crash protection. The SUVís offset-frontal crash results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety were marginal, the magazine noted, and the government hasnít done front-crash tests.
The magazine noted that the Liberty received the governmentís highest rating for driver-side crash tests, indicating that no injury or only minor injury would be likely to occur in an accident.
Consumer Reports said the Libertyís new 3.7-liter V-6 engine is "reasonably smooth but thirsty," called the ride "jittery," and noted that the interior is roomier than the Jeep Cherokee it replaced. The vehicleís fuel economy is hurt by its hefty towing capacity, said Chryslerís Ms. May.