Looking for a great small SUV to replace my Jeep Liberty

I currently own a 2004 Jeep Liberty, which I still love. It’s time to consider getting a new car, but I am having trouble finding a suitable replacement. At the top of my list is great visibility. I hate most of today’s cars because you can barely see out of the side and back windows. The Liberty was nice and boxy, which meant great visibility. I also like sitting up very high in the cabin. I could give a hoot about gas mileage (I only put on about 10,000 miles a year) and don’t mind a stiff ride. I had really high hopes for the Toyota FJ since it’s boxy, but it’s impossible to see out of either the side or back windows, which is a deal breaker. I know for sure I am not interested in a cross-over, but I also don’t want a huge vehicle. Unless folks have some other options, I might have to break down and buy a used 2012 Liberty.

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What’s wrong with the Liberty?

A used 2012 Liberty might be the best bet, the challenge is most of what’s out there is more in the cross-over side of things. The new Cherokee which basically replaced the Liberty isn’t as boxy but I’d take a look just in case. The FJ is getting warmer but would the NIssan Xterra work? It’s probably not that much bigger than the FJ but with better visibility.

The Subaru Forester has very good visibility. Maybe bigger than you wanted.

I second the Forester. Great visibility, about the same size as your Jeep.

How about another Liberty ?
My son and his husband just bought a used one and they are pleased with it too.

I’ve thought about the Forester but the OP seemed to reject cross-overs. But worth a look. The Liberty that I saw in the parking lot looked just a little bit taller than the 2nd gen Escape next to it. Mostly in ground clearance but it did look like the driver sat up higher (not by much though)

What about a Honda CR-V or a Toyota Rav4? Both share the height and visibility features with the Liberty. Mazda CX5 also might be worth a look.

@JDef You know your current vehicle (Liberty) is basically a crossover, it sports unibody construction rather a separate ladder frame that traditional SUVs tend to use. With that said the Xterra gets my vote

Thanks for all of the suggestions so far! When I bought the Liberty, I had looked at the Ford Escape, Honda Element, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Xterra, Scion Xb and a couple of others. I did hit the car show this spring and tried out most of these, but so many seemed to have that pesky rounded-shaped top (or as I call it the “egg shape”) that gives you no visibility. When I think of cross-over I think of “station wagon” which tend to sit low to the ground like a regular car. If they were still making the Liberty, I would buy another one in a heartbeat. My concern is with 100,000 miles, the unreliability is increasing. Last spring, while driving thru the middle of Wisconsin, I lost my transmission. I was lucky in that there was a Jeep dealership 4 miles away, but it took a week to replace it with a used transmission. I’ve also considered getting a second “fun” car (Audi TT convertible, Mini Cooper convertible) and keep the Jeep. I really would not object to putting up to a couple of thousand a year into it since it’s a great car, I just don’t want the unreliability in my only vehicle. I noticed a Land Rover LR2 and LR4 the other day that look pretty boxy, but not seeing a lot of good reviews on them. Same with some of the above ideas as well. Then again, the Liberty didn’t have that great of reviews either, but it was mainly on things I didn’t care about (gas mileage, rough ride, etc.). I appreciate the thoughts so far and look forward to other suggestions!

The Land Rovers will cost a ton to repair and maintain. Stay away from them. What about a GMC Terrain? It looks boxy and isn’t too large. Still, if a transmission replacement with less than 100,000 miles doesn’t bother you, the Land Rovers poor reliability might not bother you either.

Land Rover? Yikes!

Agree with @MikeInNh. and @kengreen and @Olydoug.

Libertys are what they are. Cheap replication of the old Jeep Cherokee in part time 4wd and basic rwd configuration. They were enough people who liked them at one time but not enough now. The key was, you are getting rid of it in time before it has enough problems and you can do the same with the next. If you really liked this type, I would highly recommend you look for a used one of the last year they sold them. There is really nothing out there just like them. I say, go for it. To try to convince some one they should not buy one of these vehicles for the obvious reasons when those reasons are specifically why they like them is not worth it. Jeep liberties are made like little trucks and you obviously. "Love " them. Buy a used one of 2012. They should be easy to find and cheap and allow you to buy a used Miata as well. Then, you should be good to go till the transmission fails on that Liberty as well.

Oooo…just saw on the Jeep website they have a new compact coming out in December (Renegade). The photos look promising - it’s boxy and super-cute!

You’ll have to wait until January 2015 but you should read some of the reviews of the show car to get a better idea. It’s going to be smaller than the 2014 Cherokee and closer to the Kia Soul or the Nissan Juke. Keep in mind it’s based on a Fiat Platform


That new Jeep is a rebodied fwd Fiat, not much “Jeep” about it. I’d much rather go for a CRV, Rav4, CX5, or Forester. They all have good established reputations.

The fact that it looks a bit like the Soul/Juke/Cube is sort of appealing. My issue with those is that they seem to ride very low to the ground, so maybe the Jeep will sit higher. From the specs I found earlier, it’s got impressive ground clearance, which hopefully will translate to a high passenger cabin. That said - buying the first model year of anything is less appealing. The CR-V, CX-5 and the RAV4 all have that same egg shape that I don’t like (and find a hard time seeing out the sides and back of).

So that leaves the Forester, great visibility:

Honda Element, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Xterra, Scion Xb and a couple of others

The XTerra is NOT a small SUV. The XTerra is a nice body on frame vehicle that has the same platform as the previous generation Pathfinders. It’s FAR FAR bigger then the CR-V, RAV-4 or Scion XB. In fact it’s one of the only TRUE mid-size SUV’s left on the market.

Have you driven the new Jeep Cherokee? You might like it. Several reviewers do, and they normally don’ like small Jeeps.