SCOOP: Alfa Romeo Test Mule Hides New Jeep Liberty's Underpinnings

For those of you wondering what an Alfa Romeo Giulietta prototype with a raised ride height, a bulkier shaped front end and Michigan manufacturer plates is doing in the States, the short answer is testing.

The more detailed answer is that the Chrysler Group’s engineers are trying out the platform that will underpin the next generation of the Jeep Liberty or Cherokee for overseas markets.

Like the new Dodge Dart as well as the replacement for the Chrysler 200, the next Liberty will use the Chrysler Group’s new Compact U.S. Wide (CUSW) platform, which itself is a longer and slightly wider version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta’s chassis – hence the use of the Italian hatchback as a test mule.

That said, the production Liberty will look nothing like the beefed up prototype you see in these fresh spy shots.

In an interview with USA Today back in January, Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said that despite the common underpinnings with the Dart, the Liberty will be a genuine Jeep.

“It’s gonna be a trail-rated, full-blooded Jeep that has its origins in the architecture of a sports car,” said Marchionne.

Back in November, Chrysler had announced that it will invest $500 million at the Toledo Assembly to support the development and production of the Liberty’s successor in 2013, which means we could see the new model making its world premiere as early as the LA Auto Show this fall, though the next Detroit Motor Show in January sounds more likely.

It remains to be seen what kind of engines the next Liberty will be offered with, but expect to see a turbocharged four-cylinder and possibly a V6 at launch.

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