An Aging Replacement For An Iconic SUV 2010 Jeep Liberty Sport - Click above for high-res image gallery Cher·o·kee-itis: A disease that infects the minds, hearts and wallets of Jeep buyers who cannot accept that there was, is, or ever could be a replacement for the Cherokee, sometimes referred to as the XJ. Yes, we just made that up, but the fictitious symptoms of Cherokeeitis do afflict a great number of SUV aficionados. After all, the original Jeep XJ was, if not the very first mid-size SUV on the market, the definitive sport utility vehicle from 1984 straight through to 2001. Interestingly enough, Cherokeeitis seems to infect Jeep's engineers, designers and product planners as well. To wit, nearly every Jeep developed since the final XJ rolled off the line at the company's Toledo-based factories has been designed to conjure up images of the 1984 Cherokee. Such is the case with the Patriot, Grand Cherokee and the mostly forgotten Commander. Only the iconic Wrangler and hitherto unloved Compass have strayed from the XJ. It's also true of the current Jeep Liberty, which was last restyled in 2008 to look less like a four-door Wrangler and more like the butch Cherokee it was designed to replace. Nobody ever said supplanting an icon would be easy. But just how successful was that mid-life makeover, and is the Liberty worthy of consideration for those in the market for a mid-size SUV? Continue reading... %Gallery-115905% Photos copyright ©2011 Jeremy Korzeniewski / AOL Before getting into exactly what the Jeep Liberty is, it would be helpful to spend a few moments considering what it is not: a crossover. We will not be saying things like 'smooth,' 'buttery,' 'refined' and especially not 'carlike' (whatever that means) when describing the Liberty. Those adjectives may apply to the vast majority of so-called utility vehicles available today, but the Liberty stands apart, for better or for worse, as an honest-to-Bear-Grylls SUV. Or rather, for better and for worse. First, The Better. The Jeep Liberty needs no fancy computer-controlled techno-wizardry to travel off the beaten path. All the essentials for off-road treks are present and accounted for: a torque-rich powerplant, low-range gearing, sturdy suspension with plenty of ground clearance (7.8 inches) and, of course, shift-on-the-fly Command-Trac II part-time four-wheel drive. We used the Liberty to ascend some rather unfriendly terrain in the mountainous deserts of Arizona, and it passed each successive test with ease. If you live in an area where the weather consistently throws a wrench in your plans, consider the Selec-Trac II full-time four-wheel-drive system. Naturally, it's Trail Rated, to use Jeep's marketing parlance. For the record, that last paragraph could have been written almost verbatim a decade ago in reference to the old-guard Jeep Cherokee XJ. Taken in that context, you may think we're knocking the Liberty for being laden with old technology. In fact, we mean just the opposite; the Liberty features all tried-and-true bits built right in to tackle the fabled Rubicon Trail. Or, you know, …
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