The all-new 2002 Jeep Liberty won the Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA) SUV of the year award. Association members announced that Jeep Liberty earned “Economy SUV of the Year,” besting the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Nissan Xterra and Subaru Outback Sport at the eighth annual NWAPA competition in Olympia, WA. Competition judges liked the Jeep Liberty’s design, acceleration off the line, off-road assurance, and swing gate system. The two-day competition, popularly known as “Mudfest,” featured nearly 20 NWAPA automo-tive journalists putting 26 competitors through rigorous tests at Bremerton Speedway and Thurston County Off-Road Vehicle Park. Journalists tested and judged the vehicles, scoring them in categories for overall design, comfort and convenience, production quality, cornering ability, ride and handling, braking, on- and off-road performance, value for the dollar, and personal appeal. First introduced as a 2002 model, the Liberty features a new 210 horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 SOHC 12-valve engine developed for power, refinement, efficiency, and durability. A Jeep-engineered, coil spring independent front suspension combines with a link-coil rear suspension provide on-road refinement and off-road capability and durability. The Liberty also features a patented single-action swing gate/flipper glass system for easy access to the cargo area.