AutoWeek Online Rolls a Jeep Liberty

Date 2001/11/30 0:00:00 | Topic: Liberty

As reported at

You know the sun visor labels that warn SUV owners that such vehicles don’t handle like cars in emergency maneuvers? AutoWeek contributing editor and test-track driver Pete Albrecht experienced firsthand the seriousness of that warning on Oct. 16. He was driving a Jeep Liberty in a slalom test when it rolled over twice, landing back on its wheels.

The Liberty was bent on almost every body panel; Albrecht suffered cuts to his hands and still has a sore neck a month later. He was evaluating the new-for-2002 compact SUV for an AutoFile road test, driving a 490-foot slalom laid out in a level parking lot at California Speedway. The course uses eight traffic cones in a straight line, 70 feet apart, for seven gates.

DaimlerChrysler officials question the test methodology, its applicability to the way owners drive, the suitability of the test site and the driving technique. They also say no other testing agency or customer has reported an accident like this one.

Albrecht’s speed in the rear-drive 3.7-liter Jeep Liberty Sport was around 40 mph, comparable to the best-handling compact SUVs tested previously.

“I remember rounding the seventh cone and thinking I had this one in the bag,” said Albrecht. “The next thing I remember is an impact, and being tossed back and forth.” AW West Coast Editor Mark Vaughn, the other AutoFile test driver, was observing and timing the run from about 300 feet away from the center of the course.

“On the second-to-last cone, the Liberty lifted its driver-side wheels off the pavement, then settled back down, and Pete made the move for the last cone,” Vaughn reported. The Liberty rolled, driver-side first, the A-pillar and roof first contacting the pavement just past the last cone.
Be sure to check out the entire article, where there's a photo of the rolled Liberty, a diagram describing the test, and a photo of a Liberty on two wheels.

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