NEW FOR 2008:

– Completely redesigned

For 2008, the Liberty is completely redesigned, its first major overhaul since it was introduced in 2002. It shares its underpinnings with the Dodge Nitro, but comes with a single engine choice to the Nitro’s two offerings.

The Liberty is available as the Sport, with a Canada-only North Edition package, or as the Limited; base prices are lower than the last-generation model it replaces.

As in 2007, the Liberty uses a 3.7-litre V6, mated to a six-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a four-speed automatic in the Sport and North Edition; the Limited uses the automatic only. All trim lines come with Command-Trac II, which uses a part-time, shift-on-the-fly transfer case; automatic-equipped models can be optioned with Selec-Trac II, an active full-time four-wheel system.

Features on the Sport include 16-inch aluminum wheels, air conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes, reversible cargo floor panel, power locks with keyless entry, hill start assist, power folding mirrors, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary jack, cloth seats, 60/40 split-folding reclining rear bench seat, engine immobilizer, tilt column, tire pressure warning lamp, power windows, variable intermittent wipers and rear washer/wiper.

The North Edition adds cargo cover, floor mats, fog lamps, deep-tint rear glass, six-speaker sound system, fold-flat front passenger seat, compass and temperature display, 115-volt power outlet, cruise control, and roof rack side rails.

The Limited adds 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, overhead console, vehicle information centre, chrome grille, hill descent control, garage door opener, automatic headlamps, driver’s position memory, heated folding mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote starter, heated leather-faced seats with six-way driver and two-way passenger power adjust, security alarm, SIRIUS satellite radio, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, and full-size spare.

Available options include an industry-exclusive Sky Slider full-open canvas roof, which can be added to all models; a conventional sunroof can also be optioned on all three.

While the last-generation Liberty did well in the marketplace, company officials were concerned about its image, as female purchasers outnumbered males. The new, more aggressive styling is meant to appeal to both equally; pricing and features should help get buyers into its seats.

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