Chrysler Engineer Discusses 2008 Liberty Improvements

Date 2007/10/22 8:15:37 | Topic: Liberty

Tony Brenders, the Senior Manager for Liberty/Nitro Program Development Engineering at Chrysler LLC, recently posted an article on the Chrysler Media site regarding the improvements to the 2008 Liberty's on-road performance while not sacrificing any off-road performance.
We've shipped the first 3,000 or 4,000 Jeep Liberty vehicles to dealers, and it’s launching to uniformly fantastic reviews. We succeeded in what we set out to do, which was to broaden the appeal of the vehicle and refine its on-road manners.

The face on the 2008 Jeep Liberty is a lot different. It no longer has that round “cute” look. Instead, it has that traditional squared-off Jeep look.

And we went to great lengths to improve the on-road feel. We started by making the wheel base 2 inches longer. The longer wheelbase gives you a better ability to track over the road. We were also given the freedom to change the front and rear suspensions to give us a better on-road experience. The rear suspension is now five-link (last year’s model had a three-link rear suspension). The additional two links incorporate a track bar, which really improves the lateral stability of the vehicle.

Our goal was to improve the on-road feel without messing up the off-road capability that is so precious to Jeep. We maintained (or improved) each of the five fundamentals of off-road capability.

More after the jump...

Tractive effort: This is your ability to get moving—to get the power from the engine to the ground. We actually improved tractive effort quite a bit.

Ground clearance: This comes in handy when you need to get over stuff. We maintained the ground clearance from the old KJ.

Water fording: You’ve got to be able to get through those streams, and we maintained all the water-fording features of the prior Liberty.

Maneuverability: This relates to how tight your turning radius is and how well you can get in and out of places. Even though the new Liberty has a 2-inch longer wheelbase, we were able to adjust the suspension to keep the same turning circle—something you wouldn't expect.

Articulation: This is the ability for the wheels to stay on the ground even when you change the vehicle's attitude. When you get into a situation where you have nose-down attitude—three wheels on the ground and that fourth wheel up in the air—you want the wheel travel to be as long as possible. We were able to maintain that in the new design even with a five-bar rear suspension.

Those five fundamentals all work together to give you optimal off-road performance of a Trail Rated Jeep vehicle. As probably the best part of my job, I had the opportunity to take the new Liberty through on-road and off-road evaluations in places like Moab, Utah, and over the Rubicon Trail. I saw a lot of people look at me funny and ask what I was doing in the back woods with such a shiny new vehicle. My stock ’08 Liberty had no problem handling the trail. My wife rolls her eyes when I haul out the video of my work to show my friends, but she’s happy to drive the new Liberty.




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