The coming next-generation Jeep Liberty SUV is in line for some big changes, namely a 3.2-liter V-6 version of Chrysler's Pentastar V-6 mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, according to Automotive News, which would likely mean a huge leap in both fuel efficiency and overall refinement for the next Liberty.

Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 has been a big hit for the automaker, powering several of its most popular offerings. It's so popular in fact that Chrysler is now reportedly developing a smaller, 3.2-liter version of the engine which is expected to debut in the all-new Jeep Liberty to start, mated to the brand's coming nine-speed automatic transmission, according to Automotive News.

Though the 3.2-liter engine will debut in new Liberty, the powerplant will no doubt be featured in other Chrysler vehicles soon afterward. We've already heard the next-generation Chrysler 200 may use the nine-speed automatic transmission and we don't think it'd be a stretch to suggest a 3.2-liter V-6 could be a good fit, as well, allowing cars like the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger to gain a bit more exclusivity with the larger 3.6-liter unit.

"If we had known the eight-speed [automatic transmission] was coming, we would have made the [3.6-liter] Pentastar a 3.2-liter" engine, said Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne to Automotive News at the Geneva Motor Show.

Report: Chrysler Prepping Smaller, 3.2 liter Pentastar V 6 for New Models imageThe 2012 Jeep Liberty is EPA-rated for 16/22 mpg city/highway in rear-drive form, and just 15/21 mpg city/highway with four-wheel drive. A 3.7-liter V-6 with 210 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque is the only engine, mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. For comparison, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee in four-wheel-drive form and using the Pentastar V-6 gets 16/23 mpg. Clearly, a downsized Pentastar V-6 could be a good fit for a Jeep Liberty replacement, not to mention the Chrysler 200 V-6 model, which has a 19/29 mpg EPA rating.

So far, Chrysler has struggled to keep up with Pentastar V-6 demand. In the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 3.6-liter V-6 makes 290 hp at 6400 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 4800 rpm.

If you were a product planner at Chrysler, what vehicle would you give the upcoming, downsized 3.2-liter V-6? A Chrysler 200? Dodge Charger? Chrysler's minivans? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)