For over 75 years, the Jeep brand has been connected to passion, freedom, authenticity, and adventure. The brand’s firm commitment to significant engineering and strength has helped to build a rare and extraordinary bond between the cars and their owners.
The Jeep made its reputation by manufacturing vehicles with excellent all-season, all-terrain, and all-weather capabilities. One of the most iconic jeep vehicles – the Wrangler was initially created as a military vehicle and has now evolved into a car with legendary off-road capability. Let’s take a look at the history of the Jeep and how it evolved through the years.
1945 – 1949: Jeep CJ-2A
After World War II ended, Willys started selling Jeeps to civilians and even trademarked the name. In 1945, the first model Willys CJ-2A was sold, which was further marketed as not just a vehicle, but also a mobile generator that could power industrial tools and farm implements. The CJ-2A resembled its military ancestors, but had more equipment, including larger headlights, tailgate, external fuel cap, and a side-mounted spare tire.
The CJ-2A featured a four-cylinder 134 cubic inch engine with T-90A transmission, rear axles, Dana full-floating front, and Spicer 18 transfer case. After this, a similar model – the CJ-3A was manufactured, which sold from the year 1949 to 1953. It had just a few mechanical updates, and the dual bottom-mounted wipers and single-piece windshield with a bottom vent were also added.
1946 – 1965: Willys Station Wagon
The Willys Jeep Station was introduced in 1946 and was the first all-steel station wagon. This vehicle gained mass appeal and had a lot to offer, including safety features, easy maintenance, four-wheel drive, and ample space for passengers.
The four-wheel-drive version was added in 1949. When compared to other models introduced by Willys-Overland from 1946-1964, Willys station wagon overshadowed all of them. Because it was made of steel, Willys Station Wagon held up in weather and didn’t peel or show weathering like other woodie models of the era.
1947 – 1965: Willys-Overland Truck
The wheelbase 118-inch truck was the first attempt by Willys-Overload to promote the Jeep brand beyond the flat-fender short-wheelbase CJ. With the two and four-wheel drive models of the Jeep Truck, it could be fitted with a cab or chassis, stake bed or pickup, or as a bare chassis. The pickups were available in four-wheel drive in the late 40s — a feature that was not found in Ford trucks or Chevy until the 1950s.
The earlier models of the Jeep Truck featured the Go-Devil engine with 72 horsepower. Whereas, the later versions included the Tornado engine. Also, the overland truck only had minor metal-sheet modifications until the Gladiator pickups were introduced in the mid-1960s.
1948 – 1951: Jeep Jeepster
The 1948 Jeep Jeepster was created by the designer of Willys-Overland, Brook Stevens. It was designed as a phaeton-styled vehicle with open-top and side curtains for protection against bad weather. It did not have rolling windows.
When the Jeep Jeepster went on sale, it was costly and for a sports car; its performance was not as good. The earlier versions of the vehicle had a Go-Devil engine, and the later models featured a 161 cubic-inch six-cylinder Hurricane engine.
1953 – 1968: Jeep CJ-3B
In 1953, the Jeep CJ received a broad range of updates and was introduced as the CJ-3B. It came with a taller hood and grill to accommodate the large Hurricane engine that generated up to 25% more horsepower than the earlier engine. In addition, the torque also received a boost from 106 pounds to 114 pounds.
The hurricane engine delivered better performance with increased fuel economy and larger intake valves in the head. The CJ 3-B was manufactured for 15 years, and during these years, 155,000 of the vehicles were sold.
1955 – 1983: Jeep CJ-5
In 1955, Kaiser launched the Jeep CJ-5, which had a greater length than the CJ-3B and a longer wheelbase as well. The CJ-5 was based on the M-38A-1 Korean War military vehicle and had more rounded fenders and softer body lines. As the off-road vehicles were becoming more popular each day, the jeep CJ-5 made a significant improvement in everything, including seating comfort, engines, axles, and transmissions.
In 1965, the new V6 engine generated 225 lb-ft of torque and up to 155 horsepower, which is twice the power of the standard four-cylinder engine. In 1970, the Kaiser Jeep was purchased by the American Motors Corporation. Then later in 1973, the CJ-5s received a V8 304 or 360 cubic-inch engine. Over a period of 30 years, around 600,000 CJ-5s were produced.
1956 – 1975: Jeep CJ-6
The Jeep CJ-6 came in 1956 with ample space. It had similar mechanics to CJ-5, but rode on a massive 20-inch longer wheelbase. This wheelbase added a lot of cargo space to the vehicle, making it roomier. It also features a V6 engine with 155 horsepower, which is twice the power of a base engine.
In 1973, the engine was upgraded to a V8 304-cubic-inch engine. In addition, the vehicle was equipped with a wider track, heavier axles, and bigger brakes. In 1976, CJ-6 was replaced by the Jeep CJ-7.
1963 – 1991: Jeep Wagoneer
Brooks Stevens also designed the 1963 Jeep Wagoneer. It was the first luxury SUV with 4-wheel drive capability that featured convenience, exceptional passenger-car styling, and comfort. Also, it offered independent front suspension and automatic transmission. In 1973, the Jeep Wagoneer was upgraded with the first automatic full-time 4WD system — Quadra-Trac 4WD.
In 1984, when a Wagoneer version of the new Jeep Cherokee was launched, the name of the vehicle was changed to Grand Wagoneer.
1963 – 1987: Jeep Gladiator/J-Series Pickup
In 1963, the Jeep Gladiator line-up of full-size pickups was launched. It shared the same powertrain, platform, and front-end styling as the Jeep Wagoneer. The Gladiator was available in J-300 with a 126-inch wheelbase and the J-200 with a 120-inch wheelbase.
In late 1965, the names of the J-300 and J-200 Gladiators were changed to J-3000 and J-2000, respectively. But later in 1971, the Gladiator name was dropped, and the pickup line became known as the J-series.
1967 – 1973: Jeep Jeepster Commando
The Jeep Jeepster Commando was introduced as a sportier model, which was built on the CJ-6 chassis. This 4-wheel drive leisure time vehicle was available in four variations, including a station wagon, roadster, convertible, and pickup. These four body options represented a complete range of versatility, from the capability of the pickup to the smooth luxury styling of the roadster.
The roadster had a full-length or half-length removable soft-top. The convertible featured a classier look than the original Jeepster, with either a power or manual convertible top. And the suspension was specially designed to provide excellent handling and ride.
1974 – 1983: Jeep Cherokee
The Jeep Cherokee was introduced as a two-door and sportier version of the Wagoneer. It featured a sporty trim, bucket seats, and a sport steering wheel for the adventurous and younger buyers. Over the nine years run, besides the base Cherokee, other models were also introduced, which included the Cherokee Chief, Cherokee S, Golden Eagle, and Laredo.
The Cherokee chief featured three-inch wider axles, wide-track option with wider wheels, Dana 44 rear and front axles, larger wheel cutouts, upgraded interior, fender flares, and exterior stripes. In 1977, a four-door Cherokee joined the lineup.
1976 – 1986: Jeep CJ-7
The Jeep CJ-7 was the first major update of the CJ design in 20 years. It had a 93.5-inch wheelbase, which was 10 inches longer than the version CJ-5, enabling more space for the automatic transmission. In addition, it was the first Jeep that featured steel doors and an optional plastic molded top. The CJ-5 was manufactured until 1983.
Throughout its lifetime, the CJ-7 offered several packages, including the Golden Hawk (1980), Laredo (1980-1986), Golden Eagle (1977-1980), Limited (1982 – 1983), Renegade (1976 – 1986), and the Jamboree Edition (1982).
1981 – 1985: Jeep Scrambler
In 1981, the Jeep Scrambler was introduced as a pickup substitute to the CJ-7. It came with a longer wheelbase of 103-inches and a longer rear overhang, allowing more cargo space. The mechanics of the Scrambler were similar to CJ-7, but the V8 engine was never offered. Most versions of the Jeep Scrambler featured a five- or four-speed manual transmission.
The SR and SL sports models came with soft and hardtop options and a few more cosmetic finishes than the base model. Even though the Jeep Scrambler discontinued in 1986, its popularity kept growing amongst collectors.
1984 – 2001: Jeep Cherokee (XJ)
As Americans started showing interest in SUVs, the Jeep brand came up with an all-new compact Cherokee model in the year 1984. Rather than a traditional body-on-frame design, the Jeep Cherokee (XJ) had a unibody chassis. It was 1,000 pounds lighter, 21 inches shorter, 4 inches lower, and 6 inches narrower than the full-size Grand Wagoneer. The XJ featured two types of all-wheel-drive systems (full-time Selec-Trac and part-time Command-Trac) and a Quadra-Link coil front suspension.
Earlier, the Cherokee featured a V6 2.8-liter engine or a four-cylinder 2.5-liter engine, but then in 1987, a powerful six-cylinder 4.0-liter engine arrived. From the year 1984 -1990, based on the Jeep Cherokee version, a new Jeep Wagoneer was manufactured. It featured a vinyl wood-grained side trim and quad headlights.
1986 – 1992: Jeep Comanche (MJ)
The Jeep Comanche (MJ) was launched in 1986. This unibody vehicle was introduced as a pickup version of the Cherokee. Its mechanics were also similar to Cherokee and were offered in two packages — the long-bed Comanche Chief and the short-bed Comanche Sport. Also, it was one of the first jeep vehicles to use the Quadra-Link suspension.
Besides, Comanche came with all-weather radial-ply 15-inch tires to support off-road driving ventures. Later versions of the Jeep Comanche provided the Command-Trac or the full-time Selec-Trac with a 4-wheel drive.
1987 – 1996: Jeep Wrangler (YJ)
In 1986, the Jeep brand started producing the Jeep Wrangler (YJ) — a vehicle that changed not only the off-roading experience but also the automotive world as a whole. The Wrangler YJ had similar mechanical components to the CJ-7 but overall resembled the Cherokee more. It featured a new design that included rectangular headlights, angled grille, and a wider track.
On the inside of the vehicle, you could find a modern interior and comfortable seating that appealed to a broader audience. Throughout its lifetime, more than 600,000 Jeep Wrangler (YJ) were sold. Later in August 1987, Jeep became a part of the Chrysler Corporation.
1993 – 1995: Jeep Grand Cherokee
In 1993, the Jeep brand came with an all-new version of mid-size SUV, known as the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It featured a comfortable ride and smooth handling and was the first SUV that had an airbag on the driver’s side. In addition, it provided a V8 5.2-liter engine, a Quadra-Coil suspension, and an option for all-wheel-drive systems.
In 1997, the Grand Cherokee released the Tsi edition, which was a sportier version and came with a better sound system and 16-inch wheels. This model was only offered for one year. In 1988, the Grand Cherokee’s Limited Edition made its first appearance. It featured a V8 5.9-liter engine that went from a speed of zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds.
1997 – 2006: Jeep Wrangler (TJ)
One of the most popular versions of the Jeep brand, the Jeep Wrangler (TJ) was introduced in 1997 with a retro look. TJ used a rear suspension system and a Quadra-Link front that offered the best possible handling and helped with stability. In addition, it was equipped with improved shocks and larger tires for a smoother ride on the trail.
Off-road capability had improved with better departure angles, more ground clearance, and a more aggressive approach. The Wrangler TJ was offered in different trim levels, including SE, X, Sport, and Sahara.
2003 – 2006: Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon was added in 2003. This vehicle was the most capable off-roading vehicle at that time and was known for ruggedness. It featured 31 inches tires, rear axles, and Dana 44 with an electronically controlled locking system. In 2004, the Wrangler Unlimited was introduced with a 13-inches longer wheelbase, which added 2 inches of additional rear-seat room and ample cargo space.
When it comes to transmission, TJ had a standard 5-speed transmission until 2004, and then later in 2005, it was changed to a six-speed manual transmission.
1999 – 2004: Jeep Grand Cherokee
The 1999 version of the Jeep Cherokee featured better handling and smooth ride, along with a Quadra-Drive 4×4 system and 4.7-liter V8 engine. The exterior of the 1999-2004 Grand Cherokee remained similar to the previous model. However, the interior was improved and made more luxurious to meet the requirements of a luxury SUV.
All in all, this revamped version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee was a combination of luxury, power, and a more comfortable and significantly quieter ride.
2002 – 2007: Jeep Liberty
In 2002, Cherokee (XJ) was replaced by the Jeep Liberty. It had classic Jeep design elements, including a seven-slot grille and round headlights. The Jeep Liberty was recognized for its advanced engineering at the time of its release.
It also featured a V6 3.7-liter engine, front suspension, full-time Selec-Trac and 3.73:1 axle standard for Liberty Limited and Command-Trac 4-wheel drive. In 2005, a six-speed manual transmission and a turbo-diesel 2.8-liter engine with 160 horsepower were added to the vehicle.
2005 – 2010: Jeep Grand Cherokee
In the year 2005, the Grand Cherokee was redesigned and made into a more luxurious and powerful vehicle that provided a significantly quieter and smoother ride. It was available in three engines, including a 5.7-liter HEMI with 330 horsepower. In 2006, Grand Cherokee featured a HEMI V8 6.1-liter engine with 420 horsepower, torque of 420 pound-feet, four-piston Brembo brakes, and 20-inch lightweight forged wheels.
Also, the available full-time Quadra-Drive II 4×4 system featured a center differential lock and front and rear limited-slip differentials.
2006 – 2010: Jeep Commander
The seven-occupant SUV, Jeep Commander, was based on the same platform as the 2005 Grand Cherokee. It was two inches longer than the Grand Cherokee (WK) and had a three-inch step up in the roofline. In addition, the stadium-style seating made an extra row of seats in the back. The boxy design of the car with squared-off sides and upright windshield helped to distinguish it from the previous models easily.
The commander also featured a Jeep Trail Rated® badge, which is given to a vehicle that can meet the performance standards of maneuverability, traction, ground clearance, water fording, and articulation.
2008 – 2012: Jeep Liberty
In the year 2008, the Jeep Liberty was redesigned with a more rugged and sharp-edged design. It was created to improve both off-road capability and on-road handling. Also, the new five-link rear and front suspension were added to the model with the option of a full-time Select-Trac II 4×4 system.
On the inside of the vehicle, you could find ample cargo space, passenger room, sky slider roof, and improved seating. In 2102, Liberty retired and was replaced by the lineup of an all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
2007 – 2017: Jeep Patriot
The Jeep Patriot was a compact crossover SUV that had a traditional upright design. This front-wheel-drive vehicle had the option of two electronically controlled 4×4 systems: Freedom Drive II, which was off-road capable and Freedom Drive I, which was designed for on-road use.
The Patriot also featured a 2.4-liter engine combined with CVT and 172 horsepower. After the release of the current generation Jeep Compass in 2017, the production of Patriot ceased.
2007 – 2016: Jeep Compass
The Jeep Compass is a stylish and compact crossover SUV. It features front-wheel drive and two electronically controlled 4×4 systems that include Freedom Drive II, which is off-road capable and Freedom Drive I, which is specifically designed for on-road use. In 2011, the Jeep brand came with a special edition of the Jeep Compass (Bronze Star Pearl), which had a unique exterior look.
It featured the same 2.4-liter engine with combined CVT and 172 horsepower. Later in 2017, Jeep Compass (MP) was released, which continues to be the evolution of performance, capability, quality, and fuel efficiency.
2007 – 2017: Jeep Wrangler
In 2007, the Jeep Wrangler was introduced with an all-new exterior design, engine, frame, interior, and safety equipment. This vehicle continues to be known as the modern-day descendant of the stunning and original Willys MB. The 2007 Jeep Wrangler featured removable doors, round headlamps, exposed hinges, seven-slot grille, fold-down windshield, solid axles, and convertible tops. It also revealed new levels of versatility and capability.
The 2011 Jeep Wrangler models received an all-new interior, and the Sahara models featured a more superior body-color hardtop. All in all, the Jeep Wrangler was designed to satisfy luxury SUV drivers and hardened off-road enthusiasts with minimal compromise.
2011 – Present: Jeep Grand Cherokee
After 4 million sales since the release of the 1992 Grand Cherokee, an all-new version of Grand Cherokee was released in 2011. It came with a refined design, increased off-road capability, better on-road handling, and a luxurious interior. In 2014, the Grand Cherokee was upgraded with slimmer headlights and shorter grille.
In 2017, a new Trailhawk model was launched, which included a Skid Plate Package, standard Quadra-Lift Air Suspension, all-terrain tires, and the Quadra-Drive II 4×4 System. Also, it features a powerful HEMI V8 6.2-liter engine, launch mode for incredible track performance, modified engine cooling, and a high-performance Brembo brake system.
2014 – 2018: Jeep Cherokee
In 2014, the Jeep Cherokee replaced the Liberty and returned as an all-new compact SUV. It featured a modern and aerodynamic design with a new Pentastar V6 3.2-liter engine and a 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir 2 engine. In addition, it came with a 9-speed automatic transmission.
The Cherokee Trailhawk delivers excellent off-road quality, including departure and break-over angles, off-road suspension with skid plates, Selec-Speed crawl control, Selec-Terrain traction control, and Jeep Active drive lock. All in all, the progressive Cherokee redefined a mid-size SUV with uncommon versatility, a fresh appearance, and exceptional efficiency.
2015 – Present: Jeep Renegade
In 2015, the Jeep Renegade joined the subcompact crossover segment and became a fuel-efficient vehicle with variant off-road capabilities. Now in 2019, Trailhawk and Renegade versions feature a turbocharged 1.3-liter engine with 210 lb-ft of torque and 177 horsepower. The base model of Renegade sport and Latitude features a Tigershark 2.4-liter engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission. The 2019 model also includes an LED lighting group, new front-end looks, and wheel designs.
The Renegade Trailhawk provides excellent off-road capability through aggressive tires, a Selec-Terrain system with five modes, the Active Drive Low 4×4 system with a 20:1 crawl ratio, off-road 17-inch aluminum wheels, hill-descent control, and off-road suspension. It also features red tow hooks, skid plates, a black accent roof, and off-road fascias.
2017 – Present: Jeep Compass
In 2017, the Jeep brand introduced an all-new Compass, which was completely redesigned and, thus, received an enduring success. The Jeep Compass is available in four trim levels for the United States market – Trailhawk, Latitude, Sport, and Limited. It is powered by a Tigershark 2.4-liter engine, which produces up to 175 lb-ft of torque and 180 horsepower, offering impressive fuel economy and high performance.
The Trailhawk model of the Jeep provides excellent off-road capability with 17-inch off-road tires, Selec-Terrain, skid plates, Active Drive Low, red tow hooks, increased ride height, hill-descent control, and unique fascias for departure angles and increased approach.
2018 – Present: Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
The Trackhawk version of the Grand Cherokee is a top-notch performer, which is known for its impressive handling, great grip, and track-ready capability. It boasts a HEMI supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces up to 707 horsepower. This model accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 180 mph.
Not only that, the Trackhawk has more than 8-inch ground clearance, the ability to tow more than 7,000 pounds, and a full-time all-wheel drive with a snow setting. In short, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk can practically master any terrain.
2018 – Present: Jeep Wrangler (JL)
The Jeep Wrangler (JL) is the first redesign of the famous off-roader in 10 years. It was launched in 2018 and remained true to the original. The Wrangler JL features round headlights, a seven-slot taller grille, a stylish LED halo around the outer bezel, and an improved interior. Overall, the Wrangler JL has larger windows for enhanced visibility and is more aerodynamic.
It offers multiple trims and comes with four or two doors. In addition, it has several powertrains, including eTorque technology and a new four-cylinder turbocharged engine. While retaining its iconic off-road capability, the Jeep Wrangler JL is way more comfortable than its predecessor.
2019 – Present: Jeep Cherokee
In 2019, the popular Jeep Cherokee got a complete makeover ever since the Jeep lineup returned in 2014. This model features larger headlights, an updated seven-slot grille, and a new fascia. Inside the vehicle, you can see slight changes to contours and lines, with superior materials improving the comfort level.
The current Jeep Cherokee offers three types of powertrain, including a four-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces up to 295 lb-ft of torque and 270 horsepower. It also provides an option of 4-wheel drive systems, including a Selec-Terrain control system, making it one of the best midsize SUVs in its class.
2020: Jeep Gladiator
The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is one of the most stylish and capable vehicles. Similar to Wrangler, the Gladiator has an open-top – customers can either go for the Freedom hardtop with three removable panels or the Sunrider soft-top that folds back easily. The Jeep is offered in four trim levels – Rubicon, Sport, Overland, and Sport S.
It features a Pentastar V6 3.6-liter engine, which produces up to 260 lb-ft of torque and 285 horsepower, combined with a standard six-speed manual transmission. The Rubicon version comes with ample features, including sway-bar disconnect, wide-track rear and front axles, 17-inch wheels, a front skid plate, and more.
The Jeep Flatbill is a bright looking vehicle with a motocross-style. It comes with colorful graphics and the ability to carry two dirt bikes. It features an aggressive front that incorporates a shortened custom front bumper, a vented carbon fiber hood, a skid plate to improve approach angle clearance and high-clearance fender flares. To transport the dirt bike, custom ramps slide out for easy loading, and bed’s tailgate has been removed.
There are several other types of equipment available in the Jeep Flatbill, such as a 4-inch custom off-road evolution lift kit, Dynatrac Pro-Rock 60 rear and front axles, along with 40-inch tires and 20-inch wheels.
Jeep M-175 Five-Quarter
The Jeep M-175 Five-Quarter is a combination of both modern and vintage components, based on the original Gladiator and 1968 M-175 military vehicle. A full carbon fiber front substitutes this model’s original front bodywork. Also, a six-foot aluminum bed is added with wood slats and water-jet-cut panels.
In addition, the rockers have been replaced with rock rails, and taillights, headlights, and auxiliary lights are all available in LEDs. The Jeep M-175 Five-Quarter is powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI ‘Hellcrate’ engine that produces more than 700 horsepower.
The Jeep J6 is a classy looking compact pickup truck. It provides Jeep’s legendary off-road prowess, comfortable interior, and excellent towing abilities. It is a far better off-roader than most of its rivals and also features a six-foot 12-inch longer bed. The interior of the Jeep J6 is functional and attractive and includes an easy-to-use infotainment system and comfortable adult-friendly seating.
It is powered by a Pentastar 3.6-liter engine, which produces up to 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. All in all, the Jeep J6 is a perfect amalgamation of modern technology and retro looks. It has a bright and bold look that has been desired for ages.
Jeep JT Scrambler
Essentially, JT Scrambler is a Gladiator that features orange retro stripes on the exterior. The top of the JT scrambler has an amber vintage finish that completes the retro look. It also comes with a Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces up to 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
In addition, the JT scrambler incorporates a two-lift kit that helps you maneuver over mountains, rocks, stones, boulders, and everywhere you want to take it. Overall, this heritage-inspired remix vehicle looks attractive and delivers a decent enough performance.
Jeep Gladiator Gravity
The Jeep Gladiator Gravity was presented at the 2019 Easter Jeep Safari and is perhaps one of the smartest looking trucks. The most evident change that Gravity received is the replacement of removable doors with the tube doors, made from steel. This rock climbing vehicle features 17-inch gear wheels, a 2-inch lift kit, 35-inch tires, and more.
Also, this truck has a cat-black exhaust and a cold-air intake. It is powered by a Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces up to 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, combined with eight-speed automatic transmission. On the whole, the Jeep Gladiator Gravity is specially designed for people who have a desire to reach greater heights.