2012 Jeep Liberty

2012 Jeep Liberty Review: Rough And Ready

While the Jeep Grand Cherokee was designed to be a primarily on-road vehicle with the ability to go off-road should the situation demand, the Jeep Liberty was designed to spend much more of its time off of the beaten path. Unfortunately, that focus is made all too clear by how rough and uncomfortable the Liberty is on the road and with how utilitarian and unaccommodating its cabin is. Qualms aside, it's an impressive off-road compact sport utility vehicle equipped with a V6 powertrain that grants it a rather useful towing capacity. That being said, competitors such as the Nissan Xterra offer superior 4x4 potential with uncompromised on-road refinement and a far higher-quality interior. Even Jeep's very own Wrangler delivers more in this regard. With direct competitors such as the Subaru Forester, GMC Terrain, and Toyota RAV4, the Liberty simply comes up short as a vestigial and immemorial SUV.

Pros and Cons

  • Militant, rugged outward styling
  • Exceptional all-terrain prowess
  • True utilitarian towing capacity
  • Severely outdated powertrain
  • It's a greedy gas-guzzler
  • Rudimentary and primal interior
  • Considerably rough on-road

Best Deals on Liberty

2012 Jeep Liberty Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
3.7L V6 Gas
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
Sport Latitude
3.7L V6 Gas
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
3.7L V6 Gas
Four-Wheel Drive
3.7L V6 Gas
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
Limited Jet
3.7L V6 Gas
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
See All 2012 Jeep Liberty Trims and Specs

2012 Jeep Liberty Exterior

It must be said that it's a good-looking SUV despite all of its flaws. Unfortunately, beauty is only skin deep, as they say. The standard-fit halogen automatic headlights are dangerously dim, so much so that we'd recommend not taking it out on night excursions. They look fierce though, especially alongside the large signature slotted grille that divides them and the chunky lower fender that underscores them. The sharp, squared arches also add to the militant aesthetic, though the 16-inch alloys on the Sport are a bit out of place on the big and brawny impression. The 17- and 20-inch alloys on the Limited, and new for 2012 Liberty Jet trim, are a lot more fitting. The Jet is differentiated from the rest of the lineup by its bespoke blacked-out headlamps, a body-color front bumper that features a chrome grille insert, and its chrome bodyside moldings.

The Liberty's proportions and size are commonplace for the classification; its overall length measures in at 176.9 inches, height at 71 inches, and width at 72.3 inches. Its 106.1-inch wheelbase and 7.8-inch ground clearance benefit it significantly in the trail-conquering department. Its dated powertrain and all of its apparatus make it rather hefty, however, with curb weights ranging between 4,076 lbs and 4,290 lbs, depending on the model and drivetrain.

2012 Jeep Liberty Front Angle View Jeep
2012 Jeep Liberty Rear Angle View Jeep
2012 Jeep Liberty Front Angle View 1 Jeep
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2012 Jeep Liberty Performance

Engine and Transmission

An outmoded 3.7-liter V6 engine mated to a four-speed automatic transmission is standard fare across the board. The mill cedes outputs of 210 horsepower and 235 lb-ft of torque to either a front- or all-wheel-drivetrain, the latter of which is optionable. Unfortunately, acceleration from this setup is weak. Driving around town can be a real drag, especially if you're trying to move anywhere fast. This only gets worse on the highway where the four-speed tries its utmost to manage the motor's potential but fails. The mill begins to drone unbearably at higher speeds and it sounds strained with the four-speed doing the little that it can. It's just not an effective setup and the constituents don't seem to enjoy cooperating with each other.

In independent testing, the Limited variant equipped with 4WD trailed from 0 - 60 mph in ten seconds or more. That is really slow, even for an SUV; the Subaru Forester completes the task in around 8.5-seconds and the Toyota RAV4 in an impressive six seconds.

The Liberty's motor is enhanced with electronic throttle control but it does little to improve things. It can also be fitted with a Trail Rated Selec-Trac II for full-time 4WD action and a 5,000-pound towing capability.

  • Engine
    3.7L V6 Gas
  • Drivetrains
    4X4, RWD
2012 Jeep Liberty Front View Driving Jeep
2012 Jeep Liberty Gauge Cluster Jeep
2012 Jeep Liberty Badge Jeep

Handling and Driving Impressions

In a market flooded with luxury or purposed SUVs and family-friendly crossovers, the Liberty, as a mainstream vehicle, is left dead last as it is just barely mediocre at anything. In normal driving conditions, the Jeep feels severely out of its element as any broken asphalt, bumps, and undulations rattle the driver and passengers. It displays plenty of body roll around corners at any speed as well, and it handles much like a heftier truck. Its suspension is just not calibrated for leisurely commuting at all. All this is worsened by its unresponsive steering and powerless, noisy V6 unit.

Off the beaten path, however, is where the Jeep Liberty's off-road SUV perks shine through. It can take on some pretty precipitous and craggy planes, thanks to its lifted body. If anything, the Liberty would be a decent weekend toy.

Jeep Liberty Gas Mileage

Despite its relatively small-capacity motor, the Liberty still seems to chug fuel like an avid Oktoberfest fiend. EPA-derived gas mileage ratings for the Jeep Liberty tally at 16/22/18 miles per gallon city/highway/combined when in FWD guise. The AWD setup drops mileage figures to 15/21/17 mpg. One of its rivals, the Nissan Xterra, manages slightly better, albeit not the best in the segment, either, with 16/22/18 mpg in its most frugal 2WD guise while having a 4.0-liter six-cylinder under the hood. The Liberty's 19.5-gallon gas tank, when filled to the brim, should keep it fuelled for up to 250 miles.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    19.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 16/22 mpg
* 2012 Jeep Liberty Sport RWD

2012 Jeep Liberty Interior

Utilitarian is what best describes a car like the Liberty on the inside. While that does make a lot of sense for the rugged adventurer, the extensive use of plain and hard-touch plastics really gives off an uninspiring and cheap impression. The steering column is only tiltable, which, along with the limited adjustability in the driver's seat, will make it difficult for some to find an optimal and comfortable seating position. Neither the front nor the back seats are particularly comfortable; they're pretty dire, especially over long journeys, and they don't provide that much support, either. New for the Jeep Liberty this year is an available Arctic Special Edition Package, which upgrades the AWD Sport with specs from the higher-tier model along with extended leather cabin fabric, vinyl/cloth upholstery available in various colors, satin accents, and special badging. This does improve the overall feel just a bit.

There is, at least, a somewhat useful amount of cargo space presented behind the rear bench. The 31.5 cubic feet is just enough for some casual camping gear and a couple of bags. Folding down the back bench opens up an additional 30-odd cubes.

2012 Jeep Liberty Dashboard Jeep
2012 Jeep Liberty Central Console Jeep
2012 Jeep Liberty Dashboard 1 Jeep
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Jeep Liberty SUV Equipment and Safety

The US is presented with three trim levels in the 2012 Jeep Liberty lineup. The Sport starts the selection off with automated halogen headlights, heated side mirrors, and 16-inch aluminum spinners. It features keyless entry, full power accessories, a tilt-only steering column, air-conditioning, and cruise control. The accommodations are upholstered in regular cloth fabric. For infotainment, a basic AM/FM stereo with a CD-player and six-speakers is standard. There's satellite radio, too, and an audio jack for audio streaming.

The Limited is upgraded with exterior chrome trim and 17-inch aluminum wheels. It also acquires a touchscreen interface and an eight-speaker Infinity audio system. It arrives standard with the contents of the optional packages that cost extra on the Sport - the Driver's Convenience, Popular Equipment, and Comfort Seating groups.

The Jet is given bespoke outer and inner styling cues and rides atop 20-inch alloy wheels. Upgrades include rear parking sensors and a security alarm.

The newest Jeep Liberty has undergone review by both the major safety ratings agencies in the USA. From the NHTSA, both 2WD and 4WD variants received barely passable overall safety ratings of three stars out of five. The IIHS was a little more forgiving. Out of the four evaluations, it received top results of Good for its moderate overlap front and roof strength tests but an Acceptable score for head restraints, and only Marginal for side crash tests.

🏁Jeep Liberty Price and Verdict

Pricing for the Liberty seems excessive considering its below-average, well, everything. The entry-level Sport was for sale as new in 2012 at around $23,400 MSRP. Adding 4WD to this Jeep Liberty would cost $2,000 more. The Jeep Liberty Limited was priced at around $26,800, increasing to above $28k with the 4x4 system opted in. Finally, the Jet was proffered at around $27k, with the 4x4 version nearing the $29k mark. In 2020, a used Liberty could cost anywhere from $5k to over $11k.

At its price, the 2012 Jeep Liberty is just not that great and there are just so many superior options out there. It doesn't perform particularly well at anything other than tackling some unbeaten pathways. Regardless, those looking for a truly capable machine would be far better off with Jeep's very own Renegade. The Liberty's underpinnings are extremely outdated and its ride quality unbearable for daily operation. Its cabin is also far too rudimentary to possess any level of comfort. Crashworthiness reviews for the Jeep Liberty are also subpar compared to those of its rivals. All in all, we'd recommend shopping elsewhere.

Jeep Liberty Popular Comparisons

$23,395 - $28,995
Price Range (MSRP)
Jeep Liberty