The Jeep Liberty (KJ/KK), or Jeep Cherokee (KJ/KK) outside North America, is a compact SUV produced by the Jeep marque of Chrysler. It was introduced for 2002 with styling inspired by the Dakar and Jeepster concept cars. The Liberty, nominated for the North American Truck of the Year award for 2002, was intended as a replacement for the discontinued Jeep Cherokee (XJ). The Liberty is priced between the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee. It was the smallest of the 4-door Jeep SUVs up until the 4-door Compass and Patriot arrived for 2007.
70 percent of Liberty buyers are new to the Jeep marque.
It is assembled at the Toledo North Assembly factory in Toledo, Ohio.
Three trim levels were offered for the Jeep Liberty: the top end Limited, a more rugged looking Renegade, or the base Sport. All are available with either 2WD or 4WD. In 2007, the Renegade trim level was replaced with the Latitude that appears to focus on a more urban appearance.
The Liberty was the first Jeep to use two new PowerTech engines, the 150 hp 2.4 L I4, dropped in 2006, and the 210 hp 3.7 L V6. A VM Motori 2.8 L I4 common rail turbodiesel became available in CRD branded 2005–2006 Sport and Limited models. The diesel utilized a variable geometry turbocharger and generated 160horsepower (120kW) and 295 pound-feet of torque. The overbuilt nature of the diesel powerplant added nearly 200 pounds to the CRD's curb weight versus the gasoline model. DaimlerChrysler introduced the CRD to gauge the marketability of diesel engines in North America; diesels are already common in Europe. Jeep exceeded their expectations by selling 10,000 Liberty CRD models in the first calendar year of sales.
Only available in 2005 and 2006 for the Sport and Limited models, the 2.8L VM Motori CRD has since been discontinued due to stricter 2007 United States diesel emission standards. Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and California had already banned sale of the vehicle due to their rigid state emissions regulations. A 3.0L CRD engine, based on a Mercedes-Benz BlueTec design, is still in production for the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The Liberty was not the first Jeep vehicle to use an independent front suspension, as the Jeep Wagoneer first used it in the 1960s. The Jeep Wagoneer with the independent front suspension was never put into production, due to how fast the bushings would wear out.
The Liberty is available with either a part time Command-Trac or full time Selec-Trac transfer case. The Command-Trac transfer case has four positions: 2-HI, 4-HI, Neutral, and 4-LO. The lever is placed in 2WD HI for regular driving, this allows the two rear tires to receive power. The second position, 4WD HI, is used for driving on slippery or loose pavement. This position locks both the front and rear drive shafts together splitting engine power equally between all four tires. The third position, Neutral, disengages both drive shafts from the transfer case allowing the car to roll freely; this is used for towing behind another vehicle, for example. The last position, 4WD LO is used for situations in which there is very little traction. This position, like 4WD HI locks both the front and rear drive shafts together, and by using a lower gear ratio, allows for 2.72 times more torque (however, the speed is limited to around 25 MPH max). It should be noted that using 4WD HI or LO on dry pavement is hazardous to vehicle components, through drive line binding and wheel-hop.
The Selec-Trac transfer case has five positions: 2-HI, 4-HI Part-Time, 4-HI Full-Time, Neutral, and 4-LO. This transfer case is different from the Command-Trac transfer only in the extra 4WD HI Full-Time position. The 4WD HI Full-Time position adds the same traction benefits that the part-time 4WD setting offers, but features an open differential between the front and rear axles to allow the two axles to spin at independent speeds and eliminate drive line binding and wheel-hop. This position gives the rear wheels 60% of the engine's power and the front wheels 40% of the engine's power. The division of power and open center differential allows the Selec-Trac transfer case to be theoretically operated at all times in an "All Wheel Drive" mode with no adverse effects.
Numerous versions are available in markets outside of the U.S. and Canada.
A commercial Cherokee version with 2.5 CRD engine and five-speed transmission rated at 34.4miles per imperial gallon (8.21L/100km; 28.6mpg-US) has a completely flat cargo area (the rear seat area has a carpeted full-length galvanized metal floor) and the rear quarter glass and rear door glass is replaced with fixed body colored aluminium panels (the front doors have power windows). For additional cargo security a removable floor to ceiling metal and mesh bulkhead is optional. In European markets, VAT registered buyers can claim back the tax paid as this qualifies as a Commercial Vehicle.
- Arab American Vehicles Company (a joint venture) assembles the Jeep Cherokee (Liberty) for the Egyptian market.
- Carabobo Assembly Plant (DaimlerChrysler de Venezuela) assembles the Jeep Cherokee (Liberty) in Valencia, Carabobo for the Venezuelan market.
The Jeep Liberty received a complete redesign for the 2008 model year with a more boxy and off-road look, like that of the 2007 Dodge Nitro, which is built on the same platform , while the Nitro is not offered with low-range gearing). The 2008 Liberty debuted at the 2007 New York International Auto Show.
The Liberty has dropped its four-cylinder option because of the Patriot and Compass crossover SUVs taking its place as Jeep's four-cylinder vehicles. The iron-block, aluminum-head V6 is the only engine for 2008. Towing capacity is 5,000pounds (2,268kg). For now, there is no diesel model for the U.S. Jeep stopped building the Liberty CRD for the American market because it could not meet tougher 2007 emissions standards. Transmission choices are both carry-overs: a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Standard equipment includes electronic stability control with roll mitigation, traction control, and anti-lock brakes with brake assist. New Features include standard side airbags. Optional features are rain-sensing wipers, Sirius Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, a navigation system, and the MyGig entertainment system, complete with a 30GB hard drive.
Two models will be offered at rollout: Sport and Limited. Wheel choices are 16-, 17- and 18-inch (460mm). Among the more distinctive features is the Sky Slider, a power roof made from “reinforced acrylic cloth” that opens over the front and rear seats. The Sky Slider opens up to 60inches (1,500mm) by 30inches (760mm), which is the largest opening in its class. Jeep claims that the idea behind the Sky Slider was to give consumers the open-air feeling from previous Jeep models while maintaining the rigidity and safety of a sturdy frame.
The 2009 Liberty is relatively unchanged from the 2008 models with the exception of stiffer rear axle shafts and retuned springs, shocks, anti-roll bars, steering gear valve, low rollback brake calipers and a revised brake pedal ratio. Also the six-speed manual transmission is no longer available. The four speed automatic as now standard.