Vehicle Overview

After 18 years on the market, the venerable Jeep Cherokee was showing its age. So for 2002, the Jeep division of DaimlerChrysler created a slightly larger sport utility vehicle, called the Liberty, as the Cherokee’s replacement. The Liberty is built at a new plant in Toledo, Ohio, and it was claimed to be the stiffest Jeep ever — 45 percent better in bending than the Cherokee and 30 percent improved in torsional rigidity. It was also the first Jeep with rack-and-pinion steering.

The Sport and Limited Edition are two of the available models in the Liberty lineup. The Limited went on sale in late spring 2001 and contains a V-6 engine rather than a four-cylinder. A Renegade model was added later, and it is also equipped with V-6 power. Hoping to attract “a whole new kind of Jeep buyer” without losing the traditional hard-core enthusiasts, Jeep General Manager Tom Sidlik called the 2002 Liberty “a new Jeep for a new adventure.” Developers sought a refined highway experience as well as offroad capabilities.

Rivals of the Liberty include the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Nissan Xterra and Toyota RAV4. Details on changes for the 2003 model year have not yet been released.

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