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Does the Jeep Liberty Follow the XJ Cherokee as the Next Off-Road Contender?

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The Jeep Liberty, Commander and Patriot have a loyal following.  We bought the first year KJ Liberty model introduced in 2002 and were impressed with its content.  Familiar with the XJ Cherokee, I knew immediately that the Liberty offered substance and way more technology than its predecessor.


Each of these three Jeep 4WD models have more technology than a TJ or YJ Wrangler or the XJ Cherokee.  The service needs are also greater and should follow OEM guidelines...If you have a need for answers and want to dialogue with other owners, this is the place!  Better yet, I'll throw my professional card into the mix and offer researched, technical answers to your concerns.


There are many Liberty vehicles now available in the used marketplace, and that number will swell.  There is an aftermarket for upgrades and off-pavement modifications...The Liberty, in particular, has an off-road propensity, as many have discovered.  Built properly, a Liberty can negotiate—and survive—rougher off-pavement use. 


As the price of admission to Jeep KJ Liberty ownership continues to drop, buyer interest and aftermarket support for off-pavement use will increase—just as it did with the XJ Cherokee.  When many speculated that the XJ Cherokee's doors would likely bind from twisting the uni-body in off-pavement use, owners defied that challenge and did it anyway. 


And guess what?  Few XJ Cherokee doors ever did bind, it takes a huge amount of abuse to tweak a uni-body chassis.  This will be even more true with the Liberty—and Commander.


Find out how your Liberty or Commander can survive off-pavement punishment—join this forum and post your topics and replies!



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  • 3 months later...



I realize it's too soon, but how about a discussion on what we all think of the new "Cherokee"

2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk V-6 4x4?  Is it really a Cherokee and can it really be driven off road if someone is in the market for something economical and tough! Is this the vehicle?


Just asking - Joe Mac

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Thanks for the loaded question, Joe Mac!  I saw the Cherokee Trailhawk new model launch up close at Moab earlier this year. (See my 14:51 minute HD video coverage at the magazine, not a test driving, rather the unveiling and a walk-around by Chrysler/Jeep staff.)  Jeep pledges that this vehicle bears a "Trail Rated" pedigree, though I'm not aware of the actual trail rating. 


Topside and bottom, the Cherokee Trailhawk looks like the furthest departure from a Jeep utility vehicle to date: no beam axles plus a complement of advanced, electronically controlled powertrain, stability control and safety features.  The original XJ Cherokee was a uni-body atop a very basic, utilitarian Jeep design (similar to a beam axle YJ Wrangler with a TJ front suspension system).  Absent on the Trailhawk is either a front or rear beam axle drive system. 


The new Cherokee is more a crossover AWD car with a low range system, though friend and astute Jeep® designer Mark Allen does make this accurate assertion about the new Cherokee Trailhawk, "To pay homage to Jeep’s heritage and ­visually convey that this is an all-new Jeep, while still communicating legendary best-in-class capability...We couldn’t make it look like a box.”


I'm not skeptical as long as we define what Jeep means by "class".  After all, the fully independent suspension M151 did replace the beam axle/leaf sprung M38A1 military Jeep/Willys design, though it took years of upgrades to stabilize the M151 4x4 and counter its epidemic rollover issue.  (To have a more severe rollover issue than a narrow-track M38A1 says a lot.  Imagine an M38A1 handling better on an off-camber slope than an M151!)  With the Cherokee Trailhawk, we're talking about a much lower center of gravity and roll center; adequate ground clearance is more of an issue than the center of gravity and risk of rollover.


Like you say, it's early.  In fairness to Jeep, I'm sure the Cherokee Trailhawk has the tractability to muster slick rock at Moab or steep ascents and descents...Limited substantially by its ground clearance plus expensive and vulnerable undercarriage components, the trail use of this vehicle remains to be seen...On that note, I'm more than willing to test a Cherokee Trailhawk and get a firsthand feel for its abilities.  Car and Driver did its testing and evaluation, and here's a link:  http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2014-jeep-cherokee-trailhawk-v-6-4x4-first-drive-review.



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