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2008 Jeep Liberty

2008 Jeep Liberty: All-New and Better than Before
by Jessica Howell

For the first time in Jeep history, vehicle shoppers are able to waltz into any showroom and have their pick of seven models. The latest of these ruggedly capable SUVs is the all-new 2008 Jeep Liberty.

2008 Jeep Liberty- Side viewDarling of the mid-size SUV category, the Liberty was in need of a makeover, and that's just what it got-from the ground up. Targeted toward young couples and singles, the new vehicle leaves the ranks of Jeep's "mod" segment (which included the crossover-like Compass and Grand Cherokee), and joined the classics (Commander, Wrangler) as one of six all-new Jeeps released within the last two years.

Like a badge of honor to off-road enthusiasts, the all-new Liberty proudly displays Jeep's traditional seven-slot grille, clamshell hood, trapezoidal wheel arches and rounded headlamps on a boxier exterior similar to that of the Dodge Nitro. In return, the Liberty gains two inches in length and a 0.5 inches in width, expanding the cargo area and granting more backseat leg room for passengers. Most noticeably absent is the spare tire, which now rests comfortably underneath the vehicle.

Yet, in the first redesign since its 2002 debut, the SUV ups the ante with features to intrigue on-road drivers as well as devoted Jeep owners. New features available to the two trims - Liberty Sport (base) and Liberty Limited - include a much-touted Sky Slider open canvas roof ($1,200), which spans the length of the SUV allowing on-road drivers a more Wrangler-esque drive in open air. Also offered on the new Liberty is remote start, rain-sensing windshield wipers and memory seating, mirrors and radio controls.

2008 Jeep Liberty- 3/4 viewOverall, the new Jeep Liberty looks little like the Liberty of yesteryear. This Jeep lures drivers by flaunting the burly appeal of a 4x4, with a practical, comfy ride that touts excess cargo room. We hopped into the all-new 2008 Liberty recently, sliding open the canvas roof (at speed!) and hitting the roads of Indianapolis to test the SUV in all kinds of conditions. On-road and off, the Liberty earned good grades. With a smoother ride than the previous model, the new Liberty boasts all-new suspensions for a more refined urban drive. Off-road, the vehicle showcases its Trail Rated four-wheel-drive systems, including the all-new, full-time Selec-Trac II and the part-time Command-Trac.

Nobody expects the Liberty to trek and tumble like a Wranger, but it does a surprising job of making its way up and down hills, slopes and slides with true Jeep skill. Fueled by a 3.7-liter V6, the 2008 Liberty produces 210 horsepower and garners 2008 EPA ratings of 16 mpg (city) and 22 mpg (highway), an improvement from last year. Two transmissions can be mated to the Liberty engine, a six-speed manual that comes standard on the Liberty Sport and a four-speed automatic transmission that's standard on the Limited and optional for the Sport.

2008 Jeep Liberty- InteriorInside, the Liberty provides a pleasing and comfortable space that's high on functionality. New is a reclining rear seat that folds flat, like the front seats, allowing nearly 65 cubic-feet of cargo area. In the Liberty Sport, a storage bin hides in the rear where wet or muddy gear can quickly and easily be stowed. A subwoofer and amplifier take up this storage space on the Limited model. On the seats is standard YES Essentials fabric that's stain- and odor-resistant and can be rubbed, scrubbed and take a beating without altering the look or feel of the seats. Heated, leather seats are an option for the Liberty Limited.

Simple, but comfortable, the Liberty's interior is compatible with most lifestyles, offering a vehicle that's ideal for growing families and adventurers alike.

A new two-tone instrument panel with a four-gauge cluster is the focus of the driver's pit. Also available to Liberty owners is the new MyGIG Multimedia Infotainment System with built-in navigation, audio, entertainment and communication, Sirius Satellite Radio and UConnect hands-free communication that syncs with Bluetooth technology. All new models are equipped with an auxiliary jack for easy MP3 plug 'n' play.

To keep riders safe on- and off-road, the Liberty comes loaded with a whopping 35 safety and security features. New and standard on 4x4 models is the Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, which allows drivers time to move from brake to throttle with a smooth feel. Also noteworthy is the Anti-Lock Brake System with Rough Road Detection, Trailer Sway Control, tire pressure monitoring, Electronic Stability Control, Electronic Roll Mitigation and ParkSense Rear Back-up System.

The verdict? Jeep's all-new Liberty ranks high in the mid-size SUV segment. It's a vehicle that typical car buyers could feasibly consider, and one that SUV buyers wouldn't turn their heads from. Most of all, it's a better Liberty. Starts at $20,990.

2008 Jeep Liberty

Description: Mid-Size SUV
Model options: Liberty Sport, Liberty Limited
Wheelbase: 106.1 inches
Overall length: 176.9 inches
Engine size:
3.7K SIGC V6
Transmissions/speeds: Six-speed manual, Four-speed automatic
Rear/front drive: 2WD, 4WD
Steering: Power rack and pinion
Air bags: 2 (front), 2 (side), 4 (side curtain)
EPA mileage est. city/hwy: 2WD Manual - 16/22 mpg, 2WD Auto - 16/22 mpg, AWD Manual - 16/22 mpg, AWD Auto - 15/21 mpg
MSRP Base: $20,990