Truck Trend's own Carol Ngo snapped this cell phone pic of a mysterious SUV on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles. After some analysis and comparison of the image, it was determined it's almost certainly a 2014 Jeep Cherokee undergoing some last-minute validation testing before heading to showrooms in September.
The wheel design, LED taillights that border the rear-window glass, and the tapered, upswept beltline all point to it being the Cherokee, and possibly the off-road oriented Trailhawk model. While unusual to see such prototypes driving around this close to production, it's not unheard of. As previously reported, the 2014 Cherokee is a radical departure from its immediate predecessor, the Jeep Liberty, which was sold in some overseas markets as the Cherokee. The 2014 Cherokee is built off a variation of the CUSW platform that also underpins the Dodge Dart.
Jeep has reportedly slowed down the production rollout of the Cherokee out of the Toledo plant to ensure top-notch quality before the models reach the showrooms. The late-stage mule may be part of that validation process. The 405 freeway may not be the Rubicon trail or Moab, but it's certainly challenging enough in its own right.