Liberty Gets Soaking in New York


“It’s all-new from the ground up – and wet,” joked an equally sopping Frank Klegon, product boss at the Chrysler Group, as the automaker’s 2008 Jeep Liberty got its first car wash. It wasn’t quite intended, though in retrospect, the downpour that flooded down outside New York ’s Jacob Javits Convention Center was “perfect Jeep weather.”


The original Liberty has been a critical part of the SUV brand’s line-up, beginning a dramatic product expansion program that has also brought the market models like Compass and Commander. Liberty has also brought Jeep a lot of non-traditional buyers, but now, Klegon said, the goal is to attract still more. To get there, the automaker has completely redesigned Liberty , using more angular sheet metal more in keeping with the current Grand Cherokee.


A lot of attention has also been paid to ride and handling, according to Klegon. The ’08 model’s wheelbase has been stretched 1.8 inches, while overall length is up 2.5 inches. The rear cargo compartment gets a full three-inches more, while there’s added rear seat legroom. Meanwhile, the spare tire has been moved underneath the new Jeep.


The second-generation Liberty gets a new, 3.7-liter V-6, mated to either a six-speed stick or four-speed automatic. The engine puts out 210-hp and 235 lb-ft of torque, and Jeep claims a 5000-pound towing capacity. There are two new transfer cases, a “Trail-rated” version and another, with full-time all-wheel drive, for more casual users not likely to go off-road very often.


Meanwhile, the 2008 Liberty has been generally upgraded, with a more refined interior and a number of new features, including Chrysler’s MyGig infotainment system – and the new SkySlider sunroof. Made of an acrylic-coated fabric, it can be opened up for either the first or second rows – or both. But you might need your own umbrella, at least on a day like this.

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