If you think the legion of Alfa Romeo Giulietta–based mules we’ve seen running around is getting a bit tiresome, well, we sort of feel the same way, too. Almost daily, our inboxes get fat with photo sets of one matte-black prototype or another, cut, chopped, and resized in a dozen different ways. But there’s a good reason the hatchback keeps popping up: Its next-gen bones will serve as the basis for Chrysler’s crucial small-car overhaul. The compact cavalry includes a Caliber-replacing sedan for Dodge and the Jeep seen here, which will put the unloved Patriot and Compass out to pasture.
With its jacked-up ride height signaling Jeep-y intentions, the mule’s Giulietta body is merely an exterior shell covering a newly embiggened Fiat platform known as “Compact Wide.” (It’s based on the Giulietta’s current C-Evo architecture; our sources indicate that C-Wide adds roughly two inches of width.) This particular mule is likely the front-drive version of the compact Jeep, as the photos show no evidence of drive components for the rear wheels. All-wheel drive is certainly in the plans for the Compass/Patriot replacement, however: Jeep chief Mike Manley has stressed that the brand’s future vehicles will be offered in both efficient on-road—in this case, FWD—and focused off-road versions.Due out sometime in 2013—probably as a 2014 model—this Jeep is currently tapped for production alongside an Alfa version in the Mirafiori plant in Turin, Italy, although fluctuating exchange rates and assembly costs could easily change those plans. It’s too early to know exactly what will power the CUV, but you can expect a small four-cylinder featuring Fiat’s MultiAir tech and possibly a turbocharger—the Fiat 500’s 1.4-liter can whip up as much as 170 hp in turbo guise. Alfa’s new 1.8-liter turbo four is another possibility, while the automatic transmission is likely to be a ZF-designed nine-speed unit. Whatever the details, we think can say one thing for certain: The final result can’t possibly be worse than the Compass or Patriot.
Thanks to: Car and Driver