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Jeep Liberty

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  • csawrucsawru Posts: 29
    Good Morning, All,

    The following Rant/Oratory/thinking aloud was froman email I sent to the guy running car-truck.com - and excellent source for Chrysler info. You guys are asking the same things I am - is anyone who cares listening?

    "Please know I have owned a 1988 Jeep Comanche truck since mile 0 - currently at mile 250,000 +/-. And I'm in the final weeks before throwing some cash towards a 2001 Cherokee. Having followed Jeep with personal interest for these years, and reading your columns for a year or so, I hope my thoughts and concerns are close to the mark.

    Going back almost 20 years ago, I can imagine the angst which occurred when the owners and fans of the J-10 chassis based full-sized Cherokee found out about the new down-sized XJ body. Shudder at the thought of Uni-Body construction! Curse the lack of a V-8, and carburation soon to follow. Locking hubs disappeared too! Yet it can be argued the XJ series kept AMC alive until Chrysler made one of its best ever investments. And this same vehicle must have brought in untold profit to Chrysler for nearly a solid decade, until it too was bought by Mercedes-Benz.

    The features of the XJ which set it apart from every other SUV on the market today is also why I will consider only buying it. Sadly these qualities are viewed as hopelessly primitive by most of the automotive biased media. Yet the truck people still seem to respect it. Specifically two full solid axles, a fully cast iron in-line six motor and full-time four wheel drive far and away overcome the weak back seat. (limited legroom, small doors and no headrests!?!)

    My number one question is why in the world didn't Chrysler hype this unique capability to the far ends of the earth? Along with this awesome capability is the astoundingly low price. They complain about weak sales, yet even with minimal advertising they still sell over 150,000 - in a slow year! This vehicle has more built in performance and after-market support than most, as well. True, marketing can do wonders for a mediocre product, but good marketing with a stellar product would be phenomenal. I see no reason why Jeep couldn't sell 300,000+ if they really wanted to.

    Maybe Jeep really needed a new vehicle. This industry thrives on innovation and if Toyota and Ford can build several SUV platforms, so should Jeep. So build the Liberty. And if market research shows you could sell 50,000 more Cherokee's by adding a 6" stretch to the back door, adding a mom-friendly back seat (integrated car seats like certain mini-vans and head rests) - go ahead and do that too! Apparently they had discussed stretching the Grand Cherokee - and if they really need help, Boeing and the former McDonnell Douglas folks were good at stretching airplanes midway through the product life. Especially witness the unexpected longevity of the 737.

    What scares me about the Liberty is this... What if it doesn't sell real well? Or if the appetite for new vehicles weakens even more and sales are even lower than slow? From what you have written and from what I've seen it does seem like a useful vehicle. Yet what will it do better and more cost effective than the Nissan Xterra and a whole bunch of 30 thousand something SUV's don't already do? Not only do they discard the proven durability of the solid front axle, they also abandon a very durable engine design. GM of all companies has rediscovered I6 advantages with their new 4.2L I6 multivalve aluminum motor destined for the 2002 Trailblazer - and it gets you 90% of its peak 275 ft-lbs torque way down at 1600 rpm! Now there is enough wizardry in this motor to give me heart palpitations and how it lasts for long term durability is any one's guess. Still its presence amazes me. Apparently the Trailblazer will start at about $25,000 invoice - this will definitely impact the price point of the Liberty. And where the little Hummer will come in at, with its attention to durability and capability also bears a glance as well. I really don't have any special love for GM. They make lots of good stuff, though and I think they are really on to something here. As far as Jeep though, where's the off-road leadership?

    The Liberty is a big enough departure from a proven platform for me to have a real skeptical attitude towards it. Which means if I was in the market for a new SUV in a year or so, I'd be hard pressed to buy one. Maybe I'm like the big Cherokee fans of 20 years ago. and maybe the Liberty will be a run-away success. Sometimes, when a company has gotten themselves backed into a corner, they HAVE to make new products sell well and the senior leadership at Jeep and Chrysler will do whatever it takes to make it a success. Sometimes when a company is doing well, financial discipline and customer satisfaction aren't pressed quite as hard. If anyone knows about making a durable IFS system, I trust the designers at Jeep. But they must feel like there's a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. Maybe it will be a real improvement in handling, ride quality and still able to take years of punishing trails. Maybe the 3.7L V6 will be successful as well.

    But maybe there is something else going on as well. In many western states and in most of the National Forests, there are imminent measures to restrict vehicles to existing roads - many of which themselves are being closed or abandoned. There is a real struggle going on between folks of differing ideals and how this is going to play out will be determined by much larger issues than Jeep can control. Maybe the vox populi will in due time shun any vehicle such as the Cherokee. I certainly hope not. Personally I feel the market for these vehicles will enjoy a long steady if somewhat slower increase. There is such a strong sense of enjoyment so many people get from being in somewhat remote areas and we will use SUV's to get there for the foreseeable future. I sure hope the movers and shakers at Jeep really want to, and are allowed to be, a part of this.

    Thank you very much for your time and effort reading this and thank you so very much for the work which you put into your website. I very much appreciate it.
    "
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I pointed out many posts ago, that the Liberty will sell obove invoice price, well above invoice price, whereas the cherokee has sold at or slightly above invoice price. So even if they sell less vehicles, they'll be making more $, more money is what DC wants. THEY DON"T CARE ABOUT OFF-ROADING, THEY DON"T CARE ABOUT ANYTHING EXCEPT PROFIT! IFS = More Profit in their mind, so they will try to sell it. I'm not saying they are correct, but that is their thinking, remember every business decision is based on profitablilty, not love of the product.

    -mike
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,711
    I enjoyed your post.

    You're absolutely right, when the down-sized Cherokee first debuted, it too bore the brunt of much critisim. Unibody? Off-road? NEVER! In a few years, I predict the Liberty will be accepted by most of the critics too.

    Bob
  • milt721milt721 Posts: 74
    Jeep has never attempted a IFS before and with good reason. (Lack of off-road prowess.) Also Liberty's OHC 3.7L V6 engine must be revved a lot higher than the 4.0L I-6 to get max torque and hp. Plus, I don't think you'll find anyone that says a Unibody is more rugged than body-on-frame construction.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,711
    I didn't say unibody is better, only that it has worked out just fine for Jeep. Besides, their unibodies are reinforced with a welded frame.

    The point I was making was back in 1984, the Jeep unibody was also heavily criticized—because it was new and unproven—in the eyes of many Jeepers of that era. When the Wrangler switched to a coil suspension—the same thing. We're seeing it again with the Liberty, with its many new features.

    Bob
  • milt721milt721 Posts: 74
    I understand your point, but people also had less to complain about then. They didn't stop making CJs to start making XJs. It was just an addition to the existing lineup. But this time they are replacing the XJ with KJ. Whole different scenario. BTW - When Wrangler switched to a coil suspension, off-road ability was vastly improved (as well as on-road ride). Personally I was very happy with that decision.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,711
    Points well taken. I do agree, it would have been nice if they could have "phased" it in, instead of going "cold turkey," which is what they're doing.

    On the flip side, Jeeps have historically evolved at a pace that would make a snail seem like greyhound. That being the case, and the fact that the auto industry in general has seen huge advances in recent years; just gives folks that much more to complain about.

    If Jeeps had evolved at a (faster) pace like most other vehicles, the Liberty would not be that big a deal. It would be just be another new model.

    Bob
  • milt721milt721 Posts: 74
    but maybe there is a reason why Jeeps have not evolved as fast as other vehicles. Jeep has historically responded to what current Jeep owners want in future Jeeps, (don't change anything, I love it the way it is) now they are responding to what Ford Explorer (or any other pseudo SUV) owners want. Was there a change in management at DC lately?

    P.S. That's also the reason why Jeeps still have manual transfer case engagement. The Command-Trac (NV231) and Selec-Trac (NX242) transfer cases are also used on Duango/Dakota/Ram but they have electronic engagement. They reamin manual on Jeeps because thats how the current owners want it.
  • bblahabblaha Posts: 329
    History means little to DC - new management and all ("It drives like a truck", well duhhh!)

    They should have put coils in the rear and fixed the interior in the XJ.

    The Liberty should be a Dodge.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,711
    Jeep in the last 20 years or so has evolved into a mass-market, mainstream brand. They want (and need) Explorer and customers. As I've said many times before, they are the ones driving future Jeep product.

    Bob
  • csawrucsawru Posts: 29
    Monday March 26, 12:05 pm Eastern Time
    Press Release
    SOURCE: Chrysler Group
    Chrysler Group Sets Starting Price for All-New 2002 Jeep(R) Liberty At Well Under $20,000
    AUBURN HILLS, Mich., March 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The Chrysler Group today announced that its all-new 2002 Jeep® Liberty will start in the U.S. market at just $17,035, which includes a $585 destination charge. Liberty will stand apart from the competition with its unrivaled combination of exceptional on- road refinement and legendary Jeep capability.

    ``With the all-new 2002 Liberty, the Jeep brand is delivering a unique combination of ruggedness, capability and on-road refinement, to set this vehicle apart from the competition, in true Jeep tradition,'' said Chrysler Group President and Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche. ``Liberty combines the legendary Jeep capability that our customers have come to expect with a new level of on-road refinement -- all at an extremely competitive price to broaden our buyer base even further.''

    The Jeep Liberty Sport features the 150-horsepower 2.4-liter Power Tech engine with a 5-speed manual transmission. All Sport models include driver and front passenger air bags, AM/FM stereo radio with cassette and CD changer controls, unique 65/35 split rear seat with one-handed folding operation, patented rear flipper glass/swing gate system, center rear shoulder belt, user-ready child seat restraint anchorage system, P215/75R16 all-season tires and rear defroster and wiper/washer. Four-wheel drive Sport models start at $18,545 including destination.

    The Limited Edition features the all-new 210-horsepower 3.7-liter Power Tech V-6 engine with a multi-speed automatic transmission. The 3.7-liter engine is optional on the Sport model with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a multi-speed automatic transmission. Both Sport and Limited Edition models are available in either two- or four-wheel drive.

    The Limited Edition starts at $21,795 including destination, featuring the 3.7-liter V-6 engine and automatic transmission. In addition to the standard Liberty Sport features, the Limited Edition includes AM/FM stereo radio with CD player and CD changer controls, air conditioning, power windows, power locks, speed control, keyless entry, height adjustable steering column, fog lamps, cargo compartment cover, P235/70R16 all-season tires and 16`` aluminum wheels. Four-wheel drive Limited Editions start at $23,305 including destination.

    Liberty is the first Jeep vehicle with available side air bag curtains. Available on all Jeep Liberty vehicles, side curtain air bags ($390) provide additional head protection for both front and rear outboard occupants.

    The all-new Jeep Liberty was designed and developed to expand the breadth of the Jeep lineup and broaden the brand's international appeal. Not only for traditional Jeep buyers, this vehicle will also attract the new generation of sport-utility vehicle buyers, who value on-road refinement and ruggedness.

    ``The Jeep brand has always been known for its outstanding capability and ruggedness with vehicles such as Wrangler,'' said Tom Marinelli, Vice President Chrysler/Jeep Division Global Brand Center, DaimlerChrysler. ``Grand Cherokee melded this reputation with luxury and now the next great Jeep idea, Liberty, expands the depth and breadth of the Jeep brand even further.''

    Liberty will be available early this summer, starting with the 3.7-liter V-6 automatic -- expected to be the most popular powertrain combination. The 2.4-liter engine will join the lineup at normal fall introduction.

    Liberty was engineered by the Jeep Platform Team and is being built at the all-new, state-of-the-art Toledo (Ohio) North manufacturing facility. As DaimlerChrysler's newest assembly plant, the Toledo North Assembly Plant represents the culmination of best practices from the company's worldwide operations for lean, flexible, high-quality production.

    Also in the Jeep lineup, Grand Cherokee continues production at the Jefferson North (Michigan) Assembly Plant and Wrangler at the Parkway (Ohio) Assembly Plant. As previously announced, Jeep Cherokee production will end mid-2001.

    Base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices by model
    MSRP Destination
    Jeep Liberty Sport 4x2 $16,450 $585
    Jeep Liberty Sport 4x4 $17,960 $585
    Jeep Liberty Limited Edition 4x2 $21,210 $585
    Jeep Liberty Limited Edition 4x4 $22,720 $585
    SOURCE: Chrysler Group
  • bblahabblaha Posts: 329
    I have to admit, if those prices hold up I'm floored. Much less than I expected to see.

    (sorry rsholland, but I just can't resist this next)
    Apparently, they didn't run the article through editing though. This is the way the sentence is supposed to read:

    Not for traditional Jeep buyers, this vehicle will attract the new generation of sport-utility vehicle buyers, who value on-road refinement.
  • gsogymratgsogymrat Posts: 97
    It looks like I might be able to afford a Liberty after all. Also, I noticed that Jeep is offering a "loyalty lease cash allowance" of $2000 for people who are returning from leasing a Jeep product. Does anyone know that applies if you decide to purchase a new Jeep at the end of the lease or only if you want to lease again?
  • jrtxjrtx Posts: 18
    I think the pricing of the Liberty explains the sudden demise of the Cherokee. It would be a hard sell on the showroom floor with the Liberty that cheap.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,711
    Jeep (Chrysler) will have another PT Cruiser type of sales stampede.

    Bob
  • bobcatbobbobcatbob Posts: 187
    Well, folks I was away (Who missed me??) while I awaited pricing on this SUV and, well, I am shocked to say the least. I figured a loaded model would go for over $30K, but alas it looks like one could have the loaded Limited for about 25K.

    I'd agree with RSHOLLAND about the stampede to the dealers too. Imagine the sight of the Jeep lots when all of the Cherokees are gone and they have no Liberty's to sell. Think they'll be training their sales people on "selling up" to the GC???? Of course who would want to buy a Cherokee after seeing the Liberty pricing and design? If there are any Cherokees on the lots, they'll be going for rock bottom pricing....Golly, maybe DC wasn't so dumb after all. No, wait, they are.

    The main thing that concerns me is the intiial quality of the Liberty. As I look for a vehicle, I am assessing intiial consumer satisfaction, recall issues, etc. Jeep hasn't been very good witgh first year build quality of late and that is of great concern. So, debate IFS versus IRS, etc, but I am extremely concerned abot them screwing the thing together properly.
  • bblahabblaha Posts: 329
    No matter how many times I read that article, I still can't understand. How does DC expect to make money on this? For all practical purposes, MSRP on a Liberty looks to be below MSRP on a Cherokee, and the Liberty's factory isn't paid for. Unless the quality of material is incredibly poor, or they hope to outsell the Explorer, it just doesn't make ANY sense.

    I literally can't believe that price...
  • jrtxjrtx Posts: 18
    I think the price of the Liberty appears to be about the same as the Cherokee after rebates are considered. I think DC may be getting smart and putting the price right (like the PT cruiser) in the first place. I doubt you will see any incentives on the Liberty at the announced pricing. They could not lower the price of the Cherokee without harming the residual on the huge number they have leased. I think they are making a pretty shrewd move here from a financial standpoint.
  • bobcatbobbobcatbob Posts: 187
    OK, here are my thoughts on how DC can make money on the Liberty at the posted price...

    1) DC announced it was cutting incentives, bonuses, hold backs and perks to dealers.

    2) DC Announced it wants a 15% cut in supplier prices by MY 2002.

    3) The PT Cruiser phenomena.

    So, how does this work???

    Well, DC makes a ton of money on the front end by cutting the savings from incentives, bonuses, perks and hold backs to dealers. Combine that with the 15% savings from suppliers and DC makes a ton of money and is happy.

    With this, it is now up to the dealer to make their money as they will not be making any from DC.

    So, how do dealers make their money? Well, the PT Cruiser was produced in such small controlled quantities that dealers had no choice but to ask upwards of $5000 over sticker. Does anyone really believe that Chrysler didn't know they had a runaway hit on their hands? The lack of quantity was planned, pure and simple. With the Liberty being far and away the best "deal" in the class, the demand for the vehicles will be enormous. Max production will be 180,000 units for the US market, but after about a year. So, with small quantities out there, Jeep dealers then jack up the price and whammo, they are happy.

    Oddly, it makes sense and could work. Come summer, paying 30K for a loaded Liberty may not be out of the question. You're simply paying $3500 over sticker.
  • gsogymratgsogymrat Posts: 97
    The Liberty is going to have to compete with a lot of other small SUVs in 2002 and I don't think it is guaranteed to be a runaway hit. There are other SUVs that will be in the same price range that may not have the Liberty's off-road capability but may be better on the pavement and have a better track record in terms of reliability. SUVs such as the Saturn Vue, Tribute/Escape, Hyundai Sante Fe and possibly the Honda CRV will be comparably sized vehicles with AWD and V6 power. Almost all of these companies have a better reputation for reliability than Jeep. Hyundai doesn't have a good reputation at this point but they have backed their vehicles with a great warranty to compensate-- and the Santa Fe is less expensive fully loaded than the Liberty. The Tribute/Escape, even with it's recalls and bugs, has not had as many problems as the new Jeep Grand Cherokee. In fact this month's Consumer Reports lists Jeep dead last in their list of "2000's Most Reliable Makes". Even though I own 2 Cherokees I have to ask myself, as any consumer would, if I really want to buy a first year model from a company that has such a poor reputation for quality? So if Jeep dealers think they can jack the price of the Liberty up 30K and have it compete with the Toyota Highlander or Land Rover Freelander they are fooling themselves.
  • jimsxnjimsxn Posts: 108
    Could you post them please..thanks.
  • aflongaflong Posts: 6
    At these prices for the Liberty, first-time Jeep buyers won't care about the on-road feel that IFS supposedly offers (I have a Grand Cherokee and the solid axle suspension is awesome; it feels better than my Honda's wishbone suspension), so why didn't DC stay with the tried and true solid axle with the Liberty and price it even lower? There are marketing benefits with the solid axle, only Jeep has solid axles, only solid axles give you off-road confidence, yada yada yada. Picture this commercial: A closeup shot of a generic SUV with independent suspension offroad, and driver says "but it has a good highway ride." Pan back to show it broke an axle while a Jeep is towing it out.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,711
    Hey guys, you can complain all you want. It's not going to change a thing. Jeeps not going back to solid axles. Get used to it, get over it, and move on.

    Bob
  • csawrucsawru Posts: 29
    Yes. Absolutely to the marketing advantage of Jeep's current front end! And besides the strength of solid front axles, how about 1) showing a ship busting an aluminum anchor chain; 2) a funny albeit stereotyped image of angry wife hitting hubby over the head with an aluminum fry pan and it don't faze him in the least; and 3) a farmer trying to plow with an aluminum plow...And then pan to Jeep's trusty all cast-iron I6. Aluminum is a good metal in many applications, but I just can't understand how a cast iron engine, if designed to the same care as a bimetal or all alumininum, would not win the durability award hands down.

    Consider too, the stress of years of "Normal On-road driving" over potholes, frost heaves, buckled pavement and the odd curbside impact have on any suspension... Not to say solid axle will never need any work or alignment - I just don't fear breaking something expensive when this happens in a Jeep.
  • jrtxjrtx Posts: 18
    ...and I do not find it necessary to slow down for the speed bumps in my solid axle cherokee.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I never slowed down for speed bumps in my Rodeo went 120K miles w/o a problem.

    -mike
  • jrtxjrtx Posts: 18
    Try that in a typical FWD car or minivan and see how long they last. Of course a Rodeo is still a real truck regardless of suspension type.
  • milt721milt721 Posts: 74
    Just saw not one, but two Jeep Libertys (Liberties?) on the way home from work today. One was a silver Limited and the other was a black Sport. Not much to say about the looks that hasn't been said before, but the lower portion of the front suspension hangs WAY low. (Just like all the other cute-utes/soft-roaders.) I would never attempt to do anything more than light-duty off-roading in one. I am so deeply disappointed. (DC claims that there is 8 inches of suspension travel but don't current XJs have much more than that?) BTW-I just found out that the Liberty is named Cherokee in the rest of the world. Why is it called Liberty here?
  • What city did you see one in? I wonder if the Libertys you saw had the up country suspension. That package is supposed to give you 10.1" of clearance. Im not sure of suspension travel though.
  • milt721milt721 Posts: 74
    Neither one had the up-country suspension. (No tow hooks.) Also, let me clarify my first post, the low hanging part of the suspension is the part where it connects to the wheel. The diff clearance seemed to be okay.
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