One of the more interesting features in the five-seat Jeep Liberty small SUV, which was redesigned for 2008, is its optional Sky Slider movable canvas roof. That's right: canvas.
Two trim levels — Sport and Limited — are offered, and both models have a V-6 engine. The Liberty hits dealerships in the third quarter of 2007. Pricing information has not been announced.
Differences between the new, slightly larger Liberty and the old model are most evident up front, where the 2008 model has a markedly different face thanks to its new grille and headlights. Behind the A-pillars, though, the Liberty has the same upright, boxy look as its predecessor. Sport models get 16-inch aluminum wheels, while the Limited has 17-inch rims. Chrome 18-inch wheels are optional on the Limited. Roof rails are available.
Unlike many panoramic sunroofs offered today, Jeep's Sky Slider roof is made of canvas rather than glass. The fabric roof folds on itself as it opens, and Jeep says the top is leak-proof.
The Liberty's interior is reminiscent of the Dodge Nitro's, a close sibling. Sport models have cloth seats, while the Limited gets two-tone YES Essentials stain- and odor-resistant fabric. Leather seats are optional on the Limited. Cargo room behind the second-row seat measures 31.5 cubic feet but can be expanded to 64.2 cubic feet by folding the seat.
Available features include remote start, a memory feature for the seats and a MyGIG navigation radio. MyGIG has a 20GB hard drive that can store music and photos, as well as a navigation component that can, when teamed with Sirius Satellite Radio, reroute the SUV around traffic problems.
Under the Hood
The Liberty is powered by a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 engine that teams with a standard six-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission. The V-6 uses regular unleaded gas.
The Liberty gets an estimated 16/22 mpg (city/highway) unless you opt for a model with the automatic transmission and four-wheel drive — that version gets 15/21 mpg. (Beginning with 2008 models, the EPA is using tougher fuel economy testing standards.)
Rear-wheel drive is standard, but two four-wheel-drive systems — part-time Command-Trac and full-time Selec-Trac II — are offered. Hill Descent Control, which keeps vehicle speed to a minimum when traversing treacherous terrain, is included on four-wheel-drive models.
Standard towing capacity is 2,000 pounds, but automatic transmission models with the Trailer Tow Package can pull up to 5,000 pounds.
All-disc antilock brakes, side curtain airbags and an electronic stability system are standard.