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Jun12

No Fixed Abode: Is the Liberty Ready for Its Cherokee Second?

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Jeep Liberty 2012, Image: Jeep

Someplace in my basement there’s a problem of Roundel, the BMW membership journal, that incorporates a particularly passionate and forceful article relating to a brand new vehicle from Munich. The writer goes on in appreciable element relating to the new car’s size, weight, and insane complexity. He rails towards the dilution of BMW’s Autobahn heritage and the compromises the agency is making to draw a wider viewers. Lastly, he gives his honest condolences to the shade-tree mechanics as a result of this new car can be inconceivable to service anyplace however a dealership.

These of you who learn Roundel again in the day will little question guess that this flabby, tremendous-computerized BMW was, actually, the 1977 320i.

However right here’s the factor: All of the complaints in the article have been legitimate. It’s simply that the E30 which adopted made the E21 320i look pretty easy. The E36 was a rocketship in comparison with its predecessor and the E46 was a spaceship. Every time the automobiles modified, the fanatic base swore loyalty to the relative simplicity and health-for-objective of the previous one. Then, as the inventory of respectable used stock dwindled and the elements turned inconceivable to seek out and the lap occasions continues to sink, that base made a sluggish and painful transition to the subsequent mannequin in line. This by no means invalidates criticism of the previous automobiles. It’s simply that for most individuals, that they had no selection aside from to improve. It’s attainable to maintain an previous mechanical watch in every day use; it’s not robust in any respect to maintain carrying a Remington-Rand-made Colt pistol from 1942. However automobiles are vastly extra complicated than both of these machines.

When the Jeep Liberty changed the previous “XJ” Cherokee, it was universally reviled as a cutesy piece of rubbish higher suited for the mall crawl than the rock crawl. Alas, tempus fugit and it’s now time for the previous Liberty to get a second act.


It appears unattainable to consider now, however the XJ Cherokee was not universally beloved when it appeared at the bitter finish of the AMC period. That’s as a result of the potential consumers for the factor weren’t Jalopnik nerds making an attempt to purchase road cred for $2,999 or much less, however moderately households and dealing males who have been spending actual cash for a vehicle that was anticipated to compete heads-up with the whole lot from the S-10 Blazer to the Isuzu Trooper.

Seen in that context, the Cherokee wasn’t a lot to get enthusiastic about. It was a unibody, which offended the typical trucky individuals. However it was a heavy unibody, which stole the final gasps of motivation from its historic powertrain and made it really feel ponderous on the transfer. Inside room was, to place it mildly, at a premium. Cargo area was additionally slightly disappointing. Gasoline financial system was depressing. Final however not least, it wasn’t low cost, notably not in the “Restricted” trim so beloved of dealership basic managers.

Oh, they usually fell aside. High quality on these early Cherokees was a lot nearer to the (AMC) Harmony than the (Honda) Accord. The web considers the four.zero bulletproof these days, the similar method they sing the praises of the Benz W123, however in-interval each of these gadgets have been removed from dependable.

What modified? Properly, DaimlerChrysler managed to boost the high quality of the product whilst they have been decreasing the high quality of every little thing else they bought. Extra importantly, the mixture of an extended mannequin run and freefall depreciation made the XJ an reasonably priced various for individuals who couldn’t afford a TJ or YJ Wrangler in good situation. The aftermarket sorted a few of the commonest points.

The arrival of the Liberty enshrined the XJ as the fanatic’s Jeep SUV the similar method that everyone with an previous E30 felt moreover virtuous when the slope-nosed E36 arrived. The remaining is historical past, and that historical past is about to repeat itself.

A fast examine via the boards exhibits that “KJ” Liberties from 2004 and on have joined “KK” Liberties as legitimate decisions for Jeep followers on a finances. (The 2002 and 2003 fashions have been completely besmirched by a historical past of engine maladies.) They’re dust low cost; considered one of my co-staff simply picked up a seventy five,000-mile KK in fine condition for $three,500 plus public sale charges. The aftermarket is beginning to become involved.

The most recent Cherokees at the moment are 17 years previous. A strong KK Liberty, against this, is a decade previous if that, and elements are nonetheless out there at the vendor in case you want them. It’s additionally a significantly extra nice vehicle to function each day. No one will ever confuse a Liberty with a correct freeway vehicle, which is why the street-targeted Dodge Nitro by-product was principally the automotive equal of straight-to-DVD launch. In case your present yardstick for NVH and directional stability is an XJ Cherokee, nevertheless, you’ll actually take pleasure in what the twenty first century has in retailer for you.

How’s the Liberty off-street? As was the case with the XJ Cherokee, it’s acceptable in inventory type however after that its prowess is a direct product of your prep and gear decisions. No one likes to listen to this, however the three.7-liter V6 provides extra torque at each level in its helpful rev range than the venerable inline-six four.zero. The off-roaders complained for a decade or so about the new Jeep, then, when the price dropped sufficiently, they began constructing them. In the event you stay in a state that salts its roads, your Liberty construct shall be simpler and cheaper than an equal Cherokee undertaking.

The hardcore Cherokee lovers will level out that the older vehicle is simpler to service, simpler to know, simpler to improve. These complaints have been additionally true at a given time for the whole lot from the E46 BMW to the flathead Ford. Some individuals won’t ever depart the Cherokee, the similar approach there are nonetheless individuals constructing E30 race automobiles from Nevada shells. The bulk will nod respectfully at these individuals and transfer on like George Soros waving his checkbook at an internet site.

So now’s the time to get on the Liberty bandwagon. Get the best KK you’ll be able to and put some massive axles beneath it and paint it with a rattlecan. You possibly can even put Cherokee badges on it, as a result of the Liberty was bought as the Cherokee all over the place else however right here. After you have your dangerous-ass Rubicon-prepared KK Jeep prepared, you will get on the boards the place you’ll be able to submit about “the way of life” and all that crap. You possibly can even assist transfer the Overton Window of Jeepness a bit by posting sharp complaints relating to the present Cherokee. It’s too difficult, too costly, too mushy. When you’re unsure tips on how to do it, simply open up a Cherokee discussion board, minimize-and-paste a remark about the Liberty from 2007 or thereabouts, and exchange phrases the place applicable.

It’s a Jeep factor, and I don’t perceive. However you’ll.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

– No Fixed Abode: Is the Liberty Ready for Its Cherokee Second? –

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