Back in 2001, the SUV boom was still in full swing, and Jeep was angling to get as much of that business as it could. The Jeep Grand Cherokee name was well-respected by this point and introducing another vehicle named Cherokee to Jeep’s lineup didn’t seem to make much sense to its North American product planners. So when the Cherokee came due for a remake, the company decided to do a true compact SUV with a new name as well. Interestingly though, the Jeep Liberty is still called Jeep Cherokee in markets outside North America.
When the Liberty was introduced, it created something of a sensation. The Liberty’s appearance suggested a cross between the venerable Wrangler and the more upscale Grand Cherokee in a tidier package. No poseur, the Jeep Liberty was just as capable offroad as the Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee. Perhaps most tellingly, a whole new generation of Jeep buyers — many of whom were purchasing their first Jeep — embraced Liberty right along with traditional Jeep loyalists.
To date, Jeep has sold two generations and a total of approximately 1.1 million copies of the Liberty since it was introduced in 2001 as a 2002 model.