Text and Photos by Chris Jones
The badge on the side says trail rated. Little did I know we would be putting that to the test. The vehicle we tested was the Jeep Liberty Limited. All Libertyâ€™s come with a 3.7L SOCH V6. It puts out 210 horsepower and 235 lb-ft or torque. Gas mileage is 16 city and 21 highway. 17â€X7.0 Victory Aluminum wheels are standard on the Limited. Ours came equipped with black leather, navigation, and a very nice Sky Slider â„¢ full open roof. Itâ€™s perfect for enjoying great weather. There was plenty of that for this drive.
The Plan was to take the Jeep Liberty to an appropriate scenic setting for a 4X4 and snap some shots. The drive along the way on streets and highway was very smooth. We ended up on Silverado Canyon Road, which eventually turns into a single lane dirt road. The road begins to climb up the mountains of the Cleveland National Forest. The drive was going quite well until we had some overheating issues with the transmission. The warning light came on a few times.
It was very hot and little wind. We stopped a few times as we did not want to be stranded on the mountain. Our overheating issues had ended, but we came to a fork in the road. GPS is useless at this point. All you see is beige on the screen. Based on a map, we decide to go right. It wasnâ€™t too long that we started scraping rocks and the road seemed unfamiliar. Realizing that left should have been the way to go, there was an opportunity to go back. We didnâ€™t want to scrape rocks again so we pressed on.
The great shots we got along the way dismissed any fears about the journey. The top didnâ€™t seem far off. It ended up being a bit farther than we realized. The top was 5700 feet in elevation. Upon stopping and looking back, we saw a sign. It read no pedestrian traffic past this point. We wondered where this sign was on the other end. It appeared that the continuing road was descending. With a sign like that, It couldnâ€™t be that far from civilizationâ€¦..right?
The road descended, which put us at ease and then it began to ascend. We looked across the horizon and saw no end to the trail. On a side note, make sure you have a full tank before driving to middle of nowhere. At this point, we were at a bit above a quarter. Driving in four wheel auto and 4 wheel low, will make your gas gage read slightly lower. However, the 4 wheel auto and 4 wheel low worked very well during our trip. The distance from the sign to the end of our journey was more than four times the distance from the fork to the sign.
The road was very rocky in places. The Jeep Liberty handled very well and was very impressive. We didnâ€™t get to enjoy the open roof too much up there, due to dusty roads. We were happy to be at ground level after hours of high elevation, dirt, and rock. For someone who has a fear of heights, I canâ€™t believe that we were up that high. The Jeep Liberty is definitely trail rated.