Liberty Trails Top SUVs in Initial Problems

Date 2004/5/3 0:00:00 | Topic: Liberty

The Wrangler scores higher than the Liberty
From The Toledo Blade:

The Toledo-made Jeep Liberty again failed to make a closely watched list of top entry-level sport-utility vehicles based on initial quality, trailing the Honda Element, Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda CR-V - and even the Jeep Wrangler.

According to a survey released yesterday, the Liberty had 135 problems per 100 new vehicles, ranking it ninth among 17 SUVs in its segment this year. It finished worse than the average of 126 problems per 100 vehicles.

It did, however, post a 7 percent improvement over last year's results of 145 problems per 100 vehicles, when it was sixth among 13 entry-level SUVs, according to results from the annual J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study.

The Wrangler, built in aging Toledo factories scheduled to be replaced in 2006, made a 30 percent improvement over last year, with 119 problems per 100 vehicles. That gave the iconic Jeep, a niche vehicle experiencing a sales renaissance, a ranking of fifth out of the 17 entry-level SUVs.

"We knew we had made some great strides, on the Wrangler in particular," said Nick Vuich, chairman of the Jeep unit for United Auto Workers Local 12.

Steve Walukas, Chrysler's vice president of corporate quality, praised Toledo Jeep Assembly workers for their quality advances but noted there is room for improvement with both SUVs. He declined to comment on whether he was concerned that the Wrangler surpassed the Liberty, which is built in a three-year-old factory.

"There's a lot of effort that goes into both of them," Mr. Walukas said. "We just had an exceptional year [with Wrangler] this year."

The top 5 entry level SUVs (in order) included the Honda Element, Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Jeep Wrangler.

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