Jeep Liberty: The evolution of the Cherokee

Many of us don’t want to mention it.

We see them with their IFS, comfy interiors, and new styling and we don’t want to admit that this is the replacement of our beloved Cherokee XJ’s.  But let’s take a minute and check out what is actually happening in the world of the Jeep Liberty.

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The 2002 Jeep Liberty, also known as the KJ, replaced the Cherokee XJ to meet the changing demands of car buyers.  After the frenzy that the XJ created among small SUVs in the country it took nearly 20 years for the vast majority of people to realize that they didn’t like the ride of a rough 4×4 or really even have a need for it.  They wanted something more comfortable and easy to carry their family around in.  That doesn’t sound like the SUV we all love and care for and this caused quite the commotion; and really still does among die hard solid axle fans. The Liberty was automatically deemed “the soccer mom’s grocery getter” because of it’s child-like design and IFS set up.

I’m not going to lie, it has taken quite a bit of work to convince me that the Liberty really is the evolution of the XJ and is a capable wheeler – as we’ve seen by our resident Liberty owner/author, Tommé.  Here’s a quick video from on YouTube showing that a KJ can do some wheelin’ – it’s even doorless!

So, in response to the styling woes that many Jeepers felt about the KJ, Jeep went back and tried to pull styling cues from the XJ to update it into the 21st century and grab the styles needed for decent sales in America – a country which is quickly falling out of love with the traditional SUV.  The market is asking for comfort and design instead of rugged reliability and handsome, classic looks. Enter the KK. In my personal opinion, this is where the XJ should have gone to.  Nice, square designs with some decent comfort levels.  No, it’s not a Grand Cherokee, but it’s a heck of a lot more comfy than my 97 XJ.

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You may not think it but these shiny beasts CAN wheel. Again, they still have IFS and I know many of us are hardcore solid axle guys, but this is most likely the future of vehicles so we are just going to have to accept it.  We need to learn what the plus and minuses are, and we need to learn its okay to get these SHINY beasts scratched up.  Let’s help Jeep see that we want to keep wheelin’ our “station wagons”. That we aren’t scared to take an angle grinder to ’em, that we want to build our own bumpers, and also let them know that we want after-market parts to be available.  If we don’t do that Jeep is liable to put more time and effort into vehicles like the Patriot and the Compass that really offer no, to very limited wheeling options.

This is a link to all the current offerings of a Jeep Liberty. I would love to have that panoramic roof!  Man that is sweet.

So I’ll leave you with this video of a KK wheeling in what I assume is Australia. We really can be impressed with the abilities of a stock Jeep.