Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jeep is 70 - And Has Come a Long Way

I just spent a week motoring around in the Jeep Liberty 70th Anniversary Edition. Now there was no Liberty Model in 1941, of course, but that's when the iconic Jeep military four-wheel-drive vehicle arrived to help win World War II.

I'm not sure the 70th anniversary of anything is usually a big deal, but it's a great time to highlight anything positive in the new Chrysler regime. After the trauma of its bankruptcy and subsequent takeover by FIAT, the brand needs all the good vibes it can get, and the Jeep is certainly worth celebrating.

The thing is, this Liberty, a midsize SUV built in Toledo, Ohio, is a far cry from the basic, hard, utilitarian ancestor. That's probably for the best, because for the lives we live today, the Liberty is about right. Roomy, comfortable, even beautiful, in a chiseled way, my tester was very pleasant to drive, yet still felt firm on the road and with its upright windshield, flat, shallow dashboard, and chair-height seating, it still didn't feel like any of those new-fangled crossover vehicles, which are more like tall cars.

New, FIAT-based Jeeps are in our future, but for now, we can celebrate the all-American seven-slat grille, twin round lights, and victory on wheels.

No comments: