Quirky, Underpowered, Surprisingly Economical
This Jeep is an oddball, if you are too, you’ll learn to love it. I have the freedom drive one model with the big four cylinder engine. Not gonna lie, some things about it bug me sometimes, but overall, I like it. What you’ve got to understand is this Jeep comes with a learning curve. In ways, the engineering of it is brilliant towards safety and economy, but the trade off is you sacrifice power. For example, in Auto mode D, the way the ECU, ETC, and CVT interact results in some very noticeable throttle lag off the line; and often, before you get the feel of this drive by wire system, the car seems to not know what gear it should be in at low speeds around a threshold of 2500 RPM. A lot of transmissions have been needlessly replaced multiple times in these for that, which – upside –makes buying one of these used super cheap. Now here’s the deal, learning to drive the way this Jeep makes you in Auto is all about fuel economy. Range isn’t bad considering you’ve got 4WD, and a 14gal fuel tank. Now here’s the real deal, you don’t get a touchscreen or Bluetooth, and you can’t tow more than half a ton, but you do get a capable small SUV with 4WD, traction control, and good safety features where it counts. You don’t get a button that gives you a sport or performance mode, but here’s real beauty of this Jeep, you get Auto Stick. Acceleration lagging? winding road? climbing in too high a gear? Use the most underutilized and underrated feature in recent vehicle history and downshift, shift like a manual, then switch back to D to cruise and save fuel whenever that makes sense again. Tripping about the feel of how freedom drive assigns more or less power to the front or rear diffs on the fly? Go full 4WD. You’ve got a lever for that. Think your ETC’s got you stuck in a rut? Push a button and try turning it off. Other than that, the only thing that might freak you out if it’s over 90 degrees outside and you’re driving over 90MPH for a couple hours, your tranny overheat warning light is gonna come on and your Jeep will go into limp mode until you pull over and let it cool off so you don’t kill it. So, short version, underpowered, but also underrated. If you’re a daily driver and a dirt roader, it’s a good Jeep. Read the manual, dig the balance of benefits and drawbacks, and have fun pushing this Jeep’s limitations. If you’re a rock crawler get something else.