Return of the Jeep Liberty, $12,000 30-mpg SUV, and can Autonomy be Fun? [Ask Nathan]

Lincoln MKX vs Lexus RX 350 vs Volvo XC60 T6

In this edition of Ask Nathan:

  • Return of the Jeep Liberty name?
  • Suggest a $12,000 crossover that gets 30 MPG?
  • Can autonomous cars be fun?


Today’s first question comes from a fan that wonders if FCA will bring back the Jeep Liberty name.

Hi Nathan!

I wanted to bounce this off of you because you like rumors and speculations. I was wondering if Fiat-Chrysler was going to bring back the Jeep Liberty name. It makes sense, because of the past cars Fiat-Chrysler has brought back like the Dart and now the Pacifica. Maybe they will bring back the Jeep Liberty name too?

I had a base model Liberty with a manual transmission. It lasted exactly 100,000 mi before the transmission gave out. But up until then, it was pretty good. I think it deserves another chance.

What do you think?

Best wishes,


A: Hi Saul!

That’s an interesting question.

You might be correct about FCA bringing back a name like the Jeep Liberty, but I doubt the vehicle would be anything like the old Jeep Liberty. While it had its positive points, it was not particularly loved by Jeep fans and it was very difficult to modify (unlike other popular Jeeps).



If Jeep brought back the Jeep Liberty with the CDR diesel, that would be kinda’ cool.


This next question is from a viewer who wants to know if it’s worth it for her to buy floor mats from the automaker or aftermarket.

Q: Hi Nathan (& TFL Car),

Owen Here, I am 15 and my sister will be a freshman at a private school next year thats kind of far away.

My dad currently has a 2005 Lexus GX 470 that has treated us well, been very dependable, low maintenance, etc. Next year however, my dad will be driving my sister to her new school that pretty far away, and mostly highway driving but with morning traffic. We calculated it to be about spending $20 on gas each day, just going to and from her school.

My parents are now looking for a car that is a nice, luxurious (fairly nice) sedan or small SUV that costs around $12,000 or less that is reliable, possibly lower than 100,000 miles, fairly recent, and 30 mpg or better on the highway. We are open to hybrids, not a Prius though, we have previously owned one of them. Possibly a Japanese or other known reliable cars that fairly recent…new enough to have XM radio and bluetooth/nav, etc. Could you provide some possible options?

P.S. Im a huge fan!

A: Hi Owen!

That’s a tough one. It would be easier to find a regular front-drive hybrid for $12K, but there are only a few possibilities for SUVs. The mileage is the biggest obstacle, but there could be something out there that comes close. The vehicles I found that meet your requirements (in “good” or “very good” condition) have AWD/4WD (or optional AWD/4WD), get excellent highway MPG, are priced between $6,000 and $13,000 and should have less than 100,000 miles.

Here are a few possibilities:

  • 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
  • 2010 Nissan Rogue
  • 2010 Mercury Mariner Hybrid
  • 2009 Saturn VUE Hybrid
  • 2009 Suzuki SX4

If any readers have suggestions, please add them below!

Good luck Owen!


The last question comes from Joel in Germany. He wants to know if an autonomous car can be fun.

Q: Hey Nathan I love your videos and have a question for you.

Do you think that car manufacturers will make cars more boring and less fun to drive if they get fully autonomous?
Because I don’t see why a car can’t have two personalities.
Driving fully autonomous and being fun and exciting.
So do you think we have to change our overall view on cars if they drive autonomous because perhaps they will change the basic layout of a car?

Would be nice to hear you opinion on that.

Thanks in advance and greetings from Germany.

2016 Tesla Model X P90D

A: Excellent question!

Many performance fans are worried that autonomy will remove the driver from the driving experience. While I am a bit concerned about future glitches and driver’s complacency, I think there’s room for automation.

I’ve discussed this topic to industry designers and many spoke of a time when you can press a button and let the car do the driving when you’re tired or incapable of driving safely. Many agree that electric and hybrid vehicles are the easiest to adapt to robotic control.

It’s possible that, in the near future, you could have fun zooming on a back road in full control. After you’ve finished your fun, push a button, set the navi for home and catch a nap as you go. That would be ideal.

Unfortunately, fans of old-school manual transmission vehicles will (most likely) not have a fully autonomous mode.

Can’t wait to see what automakers come up with for the masses!



Check out some autonomous fun with Roman!

Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and name will be omitted – leaving your initials or nickname, your preference.

From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.

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