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

Somewhere in my basement there’s an issue of Roundel, the BMW club magazine, that contains an extremely passionate and forceful article regarding a new vehicle from Munich. The author goes on in considerable detail regarding the new car’s size, weight, and insane complexity. He rails against the dilution of BMW’s Autobahn heritage and the compromises the firm is making to attract a wider audience. Lastly, he offers his sincere condolences to the shade-tree mechanics because this new car will be impossible to service anywhere but a dealership.

Those of you who read Roundel back in the day will no doubt guess that this flabby, super-computerized BMW was, in fact, the 1977 320i.

But here’s the thing: All of the complaints in the article were valid. It’s just that the E30 which followed made the E21 320i look fairly simple. The E36 was a rocketship compared to its predecessor and the E46 was a spaceship. Each time the cars changed, the enthusiast base swore loyalty to the relative simplicity and fitness-for-purpose of the old one. Then, as the stock of decent used inventory dwindled and the parts became impossible to find and the lap times continues to sink, that base made a slow and painful transition to the next model in line. This in no way invalidates criticism of the old cars. It’s just that for most people, they had no choice other than to upgrade. It’s possible to keep an old mechanical watch in daily use; it’s not tough at all to keep carrying a Remington-Rand-made Colt pistol from 1942. But cars are vastly more complex than either of those machines.

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

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The Problem That Won't Go Away: Fatal Jeep Crash Puts Spotlight on Years-old Recall
It’s the same safety issue that saddled Ford’s Pinto with a notorious legacy that continues to this day, and Jeep can’t seem to put it in its rear-view.In 2013, at the urging of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles issued a recall for 1.56 million Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee SUVs to correct a serious flaw. The vehicles’ gas tanks, located between the rear axle and bumper, had proven especially vulnerable to rupturing in rear-end collisions. A total of 26 deaths were recorded at the time of the recall.After installing trailer hitches on each affected vehicle, FCA felt it had the issue well in hand. Unfortunately, the fires continued, as did the deaths. Now, it’s happened again.
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How Quickly We Forget: They Sold These Cars Just Last Year

What do the Honda Element, Honda S2000, Chevrolet Aveo, Mazda Tribute, Chevrolet HHR, Lexus HS250h, Cadillac STS, Mitsubishi Endeavor, Dodge Caliber, four Suzukis, and the Jeep Liberty have in common?

They all generated U.S. sales activity in 2013, and we all forgot about them in 2014.

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A Second Tesla Model S Burns

A second Tesla Model S has burned following an accident, this time near Merida, Mexico. Tesla Motors issued a statement saying the customer was unhurt after crash in which the Model S hit a concrete barrier. The accident occurred on October 19 according to local news reports that say that the luxury electric car was speeding and “hit a raised pedestrian crossing and briefly took flight before crashing into a wall and tree.” Photos and video posted of the crash’s aftermath show the front end damaged and flames burning the car.

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Jeeps Get Hitched To Prevent Fiery Union

As we reported yesterday, Chrysler will be recalling the [s]2.7 million[/s] 1.56 million Jeeps being targeted by NHTSA over rear-end crashes that can lead to a fiery death. The solution; a trailer hitch out of the Mopar catalog.

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Chrysler Stands Down, Recalls Jeeps

Facing a looming deadline to comply with a NHTSA request to recall 2.7 million 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty SUVs – some of which are close to 20 years old at this point – Chrysler had decided to comply with NHTSA’s request.

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The Flame Wars: Jeeps "Absolutely Safe," Marchionne Says

Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne jumped, so to speak , into the flames erupting around the rebuffed Jeep recall. Says Reuters:

“Marchionne Friday reiterated Chrysler’s resistance to a recall of 2.7 million older-model Jeep vehicles, adding that the automaker is preparing to supply the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with information it had requested.”

Marchionne told Reuters:

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The NHTSA And Chrysler. Or: Some Pigs Are More Equal

In a letter sent (“VIA FEDERAL EXPRESS AND ELECTRONIC MAIL”) to Chrysler on Monday, the NHTSA requests that “Chrysler initiate a safety recall on MY 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and MY 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty vehicles and implement a remedy action that improves their performance in rear-impacts and crashes.” The NHTSA illustrated its request with pictures of burned-out Jeeps, some of which are in this article.

Yesterday, Chrysler sent out a press release, stating that it “does not agree with NHTSA’s conclusions and does not intend to recall the vehicles cited in the investigation.” It is very rare that an automaker flat out denies such a request, especially one that documents scores of deaths. This is not an article about whether Chrysler is right or wrong. This is a story about curious double standards at the NHTSA.

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NHTSA Asks Chrysler To Recall 2.7 Million Jeeps, Chrysler Says "No"

In a rare display of defiance, Chrysler is refusing to comply with NHTSA’s request to recall 2.7 million SUVs, and is publicly challenging NHTSA on the validity of the recall.

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Jeep Says Capacity, New Cherokee, Keys To Sales Growth

Jeep is counting on the new Cherokee to help continue its streak of year-over-year sales growth, but the brand is facing production related challenges that could torpedo their quest for three consecutive years of sales growth.

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Car And Driver Nails The Jeep Cherokee
Remember the Jeep Cherokee rendering we posted last month courtesy of Car and Driver? Well, we had it on good authority that the rendering was very accurate…
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Jeep's Toledo Plant Winds Down Liberty Production

The last Jeep Liberty will be coming off the line on August 16th, as the rugged 4-door Jeep makes way for its upcoming, car-based replacement.

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Automotive News Spills The Beans; Confirms Chrysler 100, Jeep Liberty Based On Dodge Dart Platform

An article in Automotive News lavishing praise on the Chrysler/Fiat [s]merger of equals[/s] marriage inadvertently spilled the beans on a couple upcoming products from Marchionne’s minions.

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Dodge Dart Platform Will Underpin Chrysler 200, Jeep Compass Replacement

A USA Today interview with Sergio Marchionne revealed some interesting details about Chrysler’s future product plans – among them, a wider adoption of the Dodge Dart/Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform, a possible small hatch dubbed the “Chrysler 100” and Alfa Romeos built on American soil.

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Piston Slap: At Liberty to Go There? You Know...

TTAC Commentator cc-rider writes:

Hi Sajeev- I am a huge fan and advocate of TTAC. I have a co-worker and friend in dire need of some good advice from the best and the brightest. She has a 2002 Jeep Liberty with 110,000 miles. Last week her car had to be towed to her mechanic. She found out the engine is toast.

Turns out it is a victim of engine sludge. After the fact, it seems that this is a fairly common issue with the Jeep 3.7 V-6. It seems that a new engine would be $3,000 in parts and at least another $2,000 to be installed.

In my opinion, it seems pointless to spend that sort of money on a car that’s maybe worth $4,000. She doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on another car- maybe $2,000 at most. She doesn’t put many miles on in a year and goes mostly to and from work. I am very familiar with the Nissan SR20 engines and am partial to them. I was recommending she find a used 1st generation Infiniti G20. They seem to give a huge bang for the buck at that low price point.

I’d love to hear everyone’s take on her situation. By the way, she is in the NYC metro area for anyone with a cheap ride for sale.

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  • JREwing It suffered the same small back seat problem that the Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique did. 2 more inches in wheelbase or a taller roof would've helped a lot.But the biggest issue was that it wasn't a SUV/crossover/soft-roader with 3 rows in a market that couldn't get enough of them.
  • Inside Looking Out Ford also was bankrupt with his first company that became The Standard of the World.
  • 28-Cars-Later If only some kind of gasoline/electric... hybrid... existed.
  • Wjtinfwb Cool cars that drover pretty well, thank to the Benz bits underneath. But that interior.... Chrysler must have sourced interior materials to Lego or Mattel. I spent a week in a rented 300 Touring of this vintage, very enjoyable car to drive but the interior would have made an old Isuzu i-Mark blush. No sale at any price.
  • Wjtinfwb The airport I fly out of and frequently rent from when driving (VPS) has no facilities for charging an EV. It's just an open, unsecured lot that requires getting the agreement and keys from the counter in the terminal. I doubt Hertz would want to invest in the infrastructure needed to add Hi-speed EV charging stations in an open air, unsecured lot. Bigger airports like Atlanta or Baltimore have dedicated garage facilities for rentals, but the majority of secondary or tertiary markets airports are open air lots like mine in NW Florida. Plus, unless you're planning on only driving a few miles a day who wants to deal with finding an EV charge station that is working then standing around for hours while Hertz's car gets recharged. Rental EV's are The answer to the question no one asked.