Jeep unveiled its 2008 Liberty mid-size SUV on April 4 at the New York Auto Show, and although the Liberty is all-new from the ground up (the first redesign of the vehicle since its introduction in 2002), there’s a lot about it that has a familiar look. In fact, Jeep pulled design cues from its iconic past to give the Liberty a somewhat retro though still contemporary look.
It all starts with that grille, which evokes the Jeeps of the World War II and Korean War eras, with its seven slots framed by round headlights. There’s almost a militaristic look to it. The flared trapezoidal wheel openings, however, are distinctively modern, giving the Liberty a rugged appearance. One of the new Liberty’s coolest features, though, is something you can’t quite see unless you’re looking down on it from above. It’s an optional canvas canopy roof, which Jeep calls the Sky Slider. The roof retracts to a huge 30-by-60-inch opening, which Jeep says is the largest opening in its class and an industry first. The idea is to give occupants an open-top driving experience similar to what you might have enjoyed tooling around decades ago in an open-air Jeep, while still maintaining the safety features of a rigid cabin.
Another nice feature: The new Liberty is available with a choice of four-wheel-drive systems, including Jeep’s Command Trac part-time four-wheel drive system, which has been around for awhile, or the next-generation Select Trac II on-demand four-wheel-drive system. The Liberty is also available with two-wheel drive.
The Liberty comes in both Sport and Limited packages. The standard engine is a 220-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. Other options include a high-tech towing package with Trailer Sway Control.
Inside features include power windows, door locks, and mirrors, as well as a fold-flat rear seat, remote keyless entry, and an MP3 audio jack in the stereo system. A wide range of interior options is also available, including automatic temperature control, memory seats, remote start, and a 6-disc CD/DVD audio system. The 2008 Jeep Liberty is expected to be in showrooms this summer.