Chrysler’s Jeep division continued its new product roll-out by launching a redesigned Liberty (Cherokee outside North America) at the New York motor show this week.


The model was last redesigned in 2002 and subsequently was the first diesel Jeep SUV to be launched in the US when a batch of 5,000 – using the same 2.8-litre VM diesel offered here in Europe -were sold there.


A Chrysler UK spokeswoman told just-auto the new Liberty – badged Cherokee – comes to Europe in the first half of 2008.


The current model is now sold only with the VM Italy-supplied 2.8-litre I4 turbodiesel but it was initially available from launch with 2.4-litre I4 and 3.7-litre V6 petrol engines, and also a 2.5-litre VM turbodiesel.


Chrysler UK’s spokeswoman couldn’t comment on likely engine choices, nor say if the three-litre Mercedes V6 turbodiesel used in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300C diesels would be offered in the new Cherokee as well.


In New York, at a rain-soaked launch event, Jeep said the latest Liberty is “all-new from the ground up for 2008” and continues to offer two four-wheel-drive systems – Command-Trac and new Selec-Trac II. On-road ride and handling have been improved and refined with the new independent front suspension, new five-link rear suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. For the US and some export markets, the familiar 3.7-litre petrol V6 continues, with updates that deliver improved fuel economy, having been introduced with the previous-generation car as a replacement for old Cherokee’s long-running four-litre straight six. Six-speed manual and four-speed automatic are the transmission choices.


The 2008 Liberty’s exterior has been completely redesigned and is much more squared-off, like the Cherokee two generations back, and the new larger Commander and smaller Patriot models recently added to the range.


Cargo and storage space is increased and seat comfort improved. Making a world debut is the new Sky Slider full-open canvas roof, an industry-exclusive. Remote start, rain-sensing wipers, memory seats and mirrors, and express up/down windows have been added to the list of features and options.


The US will get two models – Liberty Sport and Liberty Limited.


There, will be targeted to young couples and new families, as well as professional, young single men and women between 30 and 40 years of age, balanced male to female.


“Jeep Liberty owners will balance day-to-day responsibilities with their passion for adventure as well as the outdoors. They are athletic, and pursue activities that combine their various interests with their active lifestyle,” Jeep said in launch publicity.


US sales start in the third quarter of 2007.


Graeme Roberts