The 2008 Jeep Liberty "KK" Limited 4x4 is a sophisticated small sport utility vehicle. Despite its unibody construction and independent front suspension, the 2008 Liberty is quite capable off road (as Scott found on the Rubicon Trail recently.)
Jeep's Wrangler Sahara Unlimited 4x4 is similar in many ways to the 2008 Liberty. The two models have the same engine and transmission choices, similar MPG ratings, the same 4 wheel disc brakes, similar wheel and tire choices, similar 4x4 control systems, even the same ground clearance. The Wrangler has a better departure angle due to its longer wheelbase, but otherwise the two vehicles have similar overall length, approach angle, breakover angle, overall weight, and payload. The price of the two vehicles is within a few hundred dollars.
I was surprised to find that the Wrangler is 10 inches wider than the Liberty. This means the Wrangler has more space for cargo. However, the shorter wheelbase and narrower width of the Liberty give it a significantly smaller turning diameter (36 vs 41 ft).
Both Wrangler Sahara and Liberty Limited use the Command Track part-time four wheel drive system. However, for $445 more, the Liberty can be equipped with the full-time 4x4 Selec Track system, as found on the Grand Cherokee. The full-time system is an advantage for less experienced 4x4 drivers who travel in changing conditions (a snowstorm on the way to the ski slopes, for example).
There's no doubt that the Wrangler Rubicon, with lower gears, stronger axles and taller tires, is a better choice for gnarly off-road use than the Liberty. But I think the Liberty is better than any Wrangler for general use that includes daily driver chores as well as weekend off-road use. The Liberty is capable enough for most off-road journeys, and the independent suspension is a lot more comfortable in everyday use.
While the Wrangler will attract more attention in a high school parking lot, the Liberty is likely to be a better day-to-day companion. I think Jeep has a winner here. Now let's see if 3rd parties produce aftermarket upgrades like off-road bumpers and mild lift kits for the Liberty.