Engine power was sufficient and throttle response smooth. The automatic-transmission and transfer-case gearing helped us to climb extremely steep sections, as you'd expect a Jeep to be able to do. Wheel travel is limited but the computer-controlled traction control let the Jeep claw and scrape its way over nasty obstacles. Unfortunately, visibility was hindered by the wider, flatter hood and somewhat low seating position. Make sure you have a spotter.

Base MSRP for the Liberty Sport 4x2 is $21,650 while the Limited starts at $25,175 (add $1500 for 4x4 models). This is clearly a manlier Jeep than it was before, but retains enough road-handling prowess to push crossovers to the side of the road.

Understanding Acronyms
High-tech electronics rule the day and ABS (anti-lock braking system) is at the heart of some cool technology. Here are a few of the Liberty's software technologies.

ABS with Rough Road Detection (RRD) detects a rough road using chassis sensors. When activated, RRD holds brake pressure longer, so snow, dirt, or gravel pile in front of tires, for shorter stops. The Brake Assist system also allows the ABS to apply maximum braking power in a panic situation, also for shortest possible stops.

Hill Descent Control (HDC) allows controlled descents on steep terrain without touching brakes. HDC applies each brake individually as needed and disengages when throttle is applied.

Hill Start Assist (HAS) allows drivers time to switch from brake to accelerator on steep grades, without rolling backward. HAS applies brakes for two seconds after driver releases brakes, or until throttle is used.

Electronic Stability Program (ESP) helps maintain directional stability. Significant differences between steering-wheel inputs and vehicle path cause selective braking and power changes to get vehicles back on course.

Optional Trailer Sway Control (TSC) uses a yaw sensor and steering-angle sensor to detect sway, then applies brake on a front wheel to counteract it; applies all four brakes to slow vehicle and applies alternating braking and cuts power until swaying stops.

All-speed traction control (TC) applies individual brakes to halt spinning tire(s) and also can reduce engine power if needed.

Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM) uses inputs from ESP to anticipate potential rollovers and reacts by applying the brakes individually and modulating throttle, reducing rollover risk.