Indianapolis, Indiana - Jim Morrison, Senior Manager - Product Marketing, Chrysler Canada, introduced the 2008 Jeep Liberty to a clutch of journalists gathered in Indianapolis, Indiana. Beaming like a new father, Jim described the all-new Liberty, emphasizing its traditional Jeep-like styling along with its off-road ability, increased content and most importantly, decreased price.
The boxy shape of the 2008 Liberty will undoubtedly appeal to Jeep traditionalists, with more rear seat legroom being one of the benefits found therein. Numerous nooks and crannies exist for storage while a 60/40-split fold-flat rear seat allows items to slide unimpeded into the cargo bay, which at 1818-litres (64.2 cu ft) in volume, is fairly expansive. With the rear seat in place, cargo volume drops to 892-litres (31.5 cu ft). The front passenger seat features a flat folding seat back to accommodate long objects.
I like the sensible size of the Liberty. It will suit the active lifestyle of many buyers who seek the hinterland but don't require behemoth towing power or third row seating. During our day journey, I found plenty of room to stretch out in the front seats, finding them supportive and comfortable.
Engine and drivetrain
Chrysler's durable 3.7-litre SOHC V6 is held over from the previous generation Liberty, and is the only engine available today. It generates 210 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm and 235 pound-feet of torque @ 4,000 rpm, all while mated to either a four-speed autobox or a six-speed manual mixer. The next step in the power flow is Chrysler's Command-Trac II, part-time 'shift on the fly' electronic four-wheel-drive system featuring a two-speed transfer case.
Optional on all Liberty models is Chrysler's all-new Selec-Trac II, full-time 'active on demand' four-wheel-drive system, which anticipates and prevents wheel slip before it occurs. Both of these units are more than up to the task of meeting the Liberty's "Trail Rated" designation.
Fuel consumption figures provided by Chrysler peg the automatic Liberty at 14.0 and 9.7 litres of regular grade fuel per 100-K of city and highway driving respectively. The manual-equipped Liberty does slightly better with figures of 13.4 and 9.2. Not great fuel economy but certainly palatable when one considers the Liberty's size, plus its off-road capability and a tow rating of 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs).
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