DaimlerChrysler said Tuesday that it has lowered the suspension on its hot-selling Jeep Liberty sport-utility vehicle to make it less prone to roll over, but it does not plan to alter the 130,000 already on the road.
Two auto enthusiast magazines, Autoweek and Germany's Auto Bild, have cited Liberty, introduced a year ago, for a tendency to roll over and handling problems.
Chrysler said it began building Liberty this month with the front suspension lowered by 22 millimeters and the rear suspension by 19 millimeters, or slightly less than an inch in both cases. A lower center of gravity helps keep wheels on the road in sudden turns.
Chrysler spokesman Jan Zverina said the change improves on-road handling. But he acknowledged that the publicity was a factor, too, saying the change addresses ''perceived safety concerns.''
Chrysler says no rollovers have been reported.
The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration also says it has no reports of Liberty rollovers in its database.
Autoweek said a two-wheel-drive Liberty rolled over when put through its severe-driving slalom course.
In its May issue, Consumer Reports magazine said it put a four-wheel-drive Liberty through its avoidance maneuver, and it passed muster. It says it now plans to test a two-wheel-drive model.
The lower suspension could improve Liberty's government rollover rating. NHTSA has given Liberty two stars out of five for rollover propensity, meaning it has a 30% to 40% chance of rolling in a single-vehicle accident.
Many competitors, such as Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4, earned three stars, with an estimated 20% to 30% chance of rollover.