Jeep: The Old Is New Once Again
April 10, 2007
The Chrysler Group’s Jeep brand will prove enthusiasts that the old charm could be rekindled to make it new once again. Jeep’s pool of engineers has redesigned the new Liberty with strong ties to the traditional model.
To some brands, the classic versions of their product lines are better. This is true even with Jeep. This is why the automaker, the American division of DaimlerChrysler AG, has redrawn the 2008 Jeep Liberty to radiate a more classic Jeep aura and form.
The vehicle, which epitomizes the characteristics of a lean and mean machine of more traditional Jeeps, has debuted at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS). Behind the innovative features of the new Liberty is the distinctly classic look and feel. And Jeep purists are glad to hear the news. As a fact, even those who are not Jeep enthusiasts are pleased with the changes. "Our objective was to refine the design and stay true to the core of the brand," said John Sgalia, the director of Jeep Design.
The redesigned Liberty, scheduled to hit dealerships this fall, entertained several elements that vaulted the auto into a top seller small SUV. Jeep’s designers straightened out some of the vehicle’s curves but retained its quirks.
"There are two types of Jeeps, modern and classic," explained Ralph Gilles, Jeep's top designer. "We wanted the Liberty to mature but still remain playful," said Gilles, who designed the interior for the original Liberty that debuted in 2002. "The open top was really an engineering tour de force."
The Sky Slide, an industry exclusive, works like a giant sunroof creating an open space 33-inches by 41-inches, Liberty engineers said. "It's four times the size of a standard sunroof," said Rick Reuter, the chief engineer who worked on the Jeep Liberty. "But it still operates the same way for a driver."
The roof opens electronically, gathering the canvas at either end. When the roof is completely open, passengers in the second row will be able to enjoy open sky ride. The automaker spent several months testing the roof to ensure that it would not leak and would seal tightly when closed. "Jeep has always been about being in the open air, and this roof is one way to give our customers that," said John Plecha, Jeep's marketing director.
The new Liberty looks substantially bigger than its ancestors. The automaker has increased its overall length by two inches, expanded the cargo space by three inches, and extended the wheelbase by two inches. The spare tire, once on the rear hatch, was transferred behind the rear axle.
Other features of the redesigned Liberty include the powerful 3.7-liter V-6, new front and rear suspension mated to EBC rotors and other refinements to provide comfy and reliable ride. The new Liberty finishes Jeep's lineup, Plecha noted.
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