I just thought I would pass this article along for those who have not seen it.
Ground clearance of Liberty decreased
FROM BLADE STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
The ground clearance height on the Toledo-built Jeep Liberty has been quietly lowered in an effort to reduce the vehicle's rollover risk and improve its ride.
DaimlerChrysler AG dropped the suspension by about an inch in the front and three-quarters of an inch in the rear after a roll|over-test accident last fall and after customers asked for improvements in ride, spokesman Rick Deneau said.
The change, made without public notice at the Toledo assembly plant this month, probably will boost the sport-utility vehicle's U.S. rating for rollover risk to three stars out of five from two, he said.
Lowering the suspension means the vehicle doesn't amplify bumps as much, providing a smoother ride, and gives the vehicle a lower center of gravity, helping reduce the possibility of its rolling over.
Unclear is how much the lower clearance will impede off-road driving of the Liberty, but Mr. Deneau said such concerns were not key because Liberty buyers were taking it off road less than Chrysler had expected.
The Liberty, introduced last year, rolled over in an Oct. 16 handling test done by AutoWeek magazine. The rollover occurred in a test of quick lane changes, the first time that happened in assessments of hundreds of cars and trucks since 1992, the magazine said.
"Certainly the publicity of the rollovers was a factor" in lowering the Liberty's suspension, Mr. Deneau said. "But we're also competing against the [Honda Motor Co.] CR-V and the [Toyota Motor Corp.] RAV4, and our buyers want a better on-road performance."
Liberty vehicles already in customers' hands won't be recalled or changed because Chrysler considers them safe, he said. About 123,400 have been sold since the vehicle went on sale in May.
A Monroe SUV shopper told The Blade in December that he was unaware of the AutoWeek test but said the accident might influence his purchase. But a Monroe Jeep dealer said November was a strong sales month despite publicity of the one rollover accident, which Chrysler officials said happened because the test not an appropriate one to determine SUV handling and safety.
Although German magazine Auto Bild said in December the Liberty, sold under the Cherokee name in Europe, had "uncertain" handling and should be recalled, Consumer Reports, a widely read U.S. magazine that tests vehicle handling, later checked the Liberty and had no rollover or major handling problems.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had no complaints about rollovers involving the Liberty.
Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said Chrysler should do a recall. "The early owners have a right to the same safety features as the new owners," he said.