Jeep Liberty offers more room while retaining all its capabilities
I admit I'm a Jeep junkie. More than you would ever know and certainly more than my wife knows. She would love to see some of my 1940s Jeeps go to other homes. She doesn't push it too much because deep down she too is a Jeeper. She and I both have lusted after a Wrangler Rubicon since its inception, but the more practical side of us looks toward the Liberty. If nothing else, it is a much more practical choice for our situation, but we continue to put off the purchase decision. Actually, that is a good thing because I just drove the redesigned 2008 Liberty and I think we just found our lust-mobile. Bigger and more versatile while retaining its "Trail-Rated" badge, the new Liberty will fit into our lifestyle much more rationally. It has more room for our Vizslas, and anyone who has dogs must know their comfort is at least as important as their master's. Loyalists may be put off by the angular front end combination, but look closer and you will see the designers cleverly retained the round headlamp in a more contemporary manner.One of the cool (no pun intended) features is the Sky Slider double-sliding cloth sunroof. A first in the automotive industry, the Liberty's Sky Slider opens the entire passenger compartment to the outside world. Now all passengers can enjoy the sun, wind and sounds of the outdoors in a fresh way. This sliding roof is four times the normal size and offers myriad ways to let the sun shine in. Electrically operated, the roof slides rearward and can be stopped at any position. The Sky Slider also can be retracted from the rear so the rear seat passengers enjoy the open-air experience. Any way you slide it, the new Liberty supplies more of an outdoor experience than other vehicle in its class. At $1,200, this is an option that is sure to be included on nearly everyone's list. By moving the spare tire under the vehicle in front of the rear bumper, the interior of the new model offers more storage space. The Liberty also is larger, having been stretched by 3.5 inches in total length, and has a better stance on the road with a 2-inch longer wheelbase and wider track. Power comes from the tried and true 3.7-liter V-6 engine that produces a quiet and smooth 210 horsepower. The engine has proved its mettle on the back country trails with 235 pounds-feet of torque that powers this Jeep over the most formidable boulder strewn trail. This brings us to the two different four-wheel-drive systems offered in the 2008 Liberty. Most of us are familiar with the Command-Trac four-wheel drive system. It is a part-time setup with 4X4 high or low range selected by the driver as the need arises. The more advanced Selec-Trac II system always is in four-wheel drive for those surprise situations, yet is switchable so the driver can select high or low range. As Jeep owners like to point out, these systems make their Jeeps Trail Rated, the badge of honor for any owner ready to venture off-road. The ever-popular Liberty just became even more of a fun off-road vehicle while offering more features that make it an equally better highway cruiser. The chiseled exterior design will attract more male buyers while continuing to be a favorite with females who possess adventure and plenty of spirit for the outdoors.
Ron Moorhead, a nationally syndicated automotive columnist, can be reached at email@example.com.