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KJ 'Liberty'


In 2002, Daimler-Chrysler finished off one of the best general-purpose vehicles around. Introduced in 1984, the Jeep Cherokee was introduced and coined the "Sport-Utility Vehicle" phrase. During 18 highly successful years, The XJ Cherokee was a standard that other manufacturers aspired to copy.

Where they couldn't compete on ruggedness and trail-worthiness, the other manufacturers built what are known as "cute-utes" that often lack true four-wheel drive capabilities, much less the articulation needed to drive onto the trails the XJ allowed many families to get to. In 2002, Daimler bowed to the desires of their perceived audience and introduced a cute-ute of their own, calling it the Liberty.

One of the biggest changes to the Jeep lineup was the loss of a solid front axle. Instead, the 'Libby' now has independent front suspension (IFS) and even a car-like rack-and-pinion steering system. Neither of these has won praise as a durable unit.

A few months after introduction, the KJ was even lowered an inch to make it easier to get into; something that was considered sacrilege to old-school Jeepers. The KJ pictured below is a manufacturer demo, with a very special paint job and a small lift along with larger-than-stock tires.

2002 Jeep Liberty Special Edition at 2001 Jeep 101 Event
2002 Jeep Liberty Special Edition at 2001 Jeep 101 Event in Denver

Oddly enough, in overseas markets the KJ is still badged as a 'Cherokee'

e-mail Jim
created: Nov 10, 2002

Modified July 8, 2003