Since the 1950's, Jeep has established itself as perhaps the most recognizable car brand in the world. Born from the military vehicle that helped win the Second World War, Jeeps boast a rich history and a tradition of ruggedness, durability, and off-road performance. Although the brand was known to produce an occasional roadster or a pickup, it namely operates in the SUV niche.
And there it dominates, bringing a multiple globally-popular models lauded as the best in their segment. In this article, we explore the the history of jeep as we bring you the 10 greatest Jeep models ever made.
Sometimes criticized for its square headlights, the Wrangler YJ is extremely recognizable and a unique piece of Jeep's history. Along with its off-road capabilities characteristic to the brand, this model was also designed to appeal to more casual, everyday drivers. This was done by lowering the ground clearance from the previous models and improving the comfort and experience in the cabin. The initial model, produced until 1991, featured a 2.5L or a 4.2L AMC engines. The more powerful version produced 112 horsepower. However, the YJ was updated to feature a more powerful 4.0L 6-cylinder generating 180 horsepower. Back then, this was a very capable Jeep, and so unique that we had to include it in this list.
One of the less popular jeeps, the Commander was brought to life to give large off-roaders such as the Land Rover Discovery a run for their money. It's a huge, blocky, SUV that performs equally well on the tarmac and off it.
The commander was the first Jeep to provide the capability of comfortably seating seven, and was quick to impress with its power, featuring a large, 322 hp 5.7L HEMI V8 that launched it to 60 in some 7 seconds despite a curb weight of almost 5200 lbs. Today, the Commander is a very attractive choice for a used SUV, as it offers immense spaciousness and utility, priced far below the competition.
When it was unveiled at the 2007 New York Auto Show, the 2007 Wrangler Unlimited JK was the only four-door convertible in production. Inside was a 3.8L V6 producing 205 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, which was a welcomed improvement over the old 4-cylinder. Naturally, the Wrangler was instantly massively adopted as the Jeep of choice for both off-roading and road use. Little could compete with the four-door Wrangler. The extra set of doors now also appealed to families and earned it an entrance into a new segment, yet it was perhaps the most off-road capable car out there.
The CJ-5 is definitely one of the cars we can thank for what Jeep is today. During its almost 30 years of reign, the car cemented the notion of Jeep as a personal off-road car in the hearts of consumers worldwide. The CJ-5 was THE "Jeep," and its design was so memorable and beloved that it helped the company forever secure it as its trademark feature. From the 1955 version to the 80s, the car survived multiple engine revisions to make it more capable off-road. This, in turn, helped shape the notion of Jeep as a performance car today.
The CJ-7 took everything that made the longstanding favorite CJ-5 so popular and made it better. This includes a more optimized drivetrain, a longer wheelbase, and a more comfortable cabin. However, it still retained the rugged appearance and trademark Jeep durability, adventurous soft-top that made Jeeps the popular off-roaders they are today. Notably, the CJ-7 also had a rework called the Scrambler, which featured an even longer (103,5") wheelbase and an ample rear cargo box. Selling over 350,000 units, the beloved CJ-7 is another classic that definitely deserved a spot among the best Jeeps ever produced.
The Wagoneer sported an innovative look that combined the ruggedness of a traditional Jeep with a stylish design of old road cars. Because of this, and its remarkable drivability and comfort, it could be considered as the birth of the modern luxury crossover. Actively produced for over a quarter of a decade, the Wagoneer's practicality and comfort defied time. It also offered a sizable ground clearance and more than enough power to push it uphill. From it sprung the Cherokee and the Grand Wagoneer, which was essentially the inception of the luxurious SUV as we know it.
Lauded as the first modern SUV, the '84 Jeep Cherokee reigned for 15 years as one of the most popular and versatile off-road vehicles out there. Its simple yet attractive design captured numerous audiences and led the Cherokee towards mass adoption. The model was so much better than any other offered at the time, that its success sparked the birth of numerous other cars trying to emulate it. In the most popular version, the '84 Cherokee sported a 4.0L inline-six engine producing approximately 190 hp, which was a solid dose of power for the time.
The raw power combined with immense off-road capability and comfort earned this model a spot on our list of the 10 best off-roaders money can buy. So, it's only logical it would be honored in this list as well.
The TrackHawk's performance is second to none, as the model is able to pull a stampede of 707 horses from the depths of its huge, 6.2L supercharged V8 to snatch 60 mph faster than a Murcielago (in 3.5 seconds). Apart from that, it impresses with its comfort and technology features that surprisingly don't compromise its off-road utility but complement it.
One of the best off-road vehicles you can buy today, the new Rubicon builds on the Wranglers already impressive performance and utility. Thee Wrangler seems to have everything an off-roader would ever need, yet it still beats most of its competitors when it comes to price. It comes with a 3.6L V6 producing 285 horsepower, an immense ground clearance (courtesy of its massive 33-inch wheels), and the interior is not too shabby either. Add to that a solid gas mileage and you have yourself one of the best Jeeps that had ever been marketed.
The Jeep that started it all. Produced as a military vehicle from the beginning of the Second World War, the Willys MB was in all essence the Jeep that started the legacy. Its original design features withstood the test of time and became a trademark Jeep look which successfully carried over to the cars we see today. the Willys MB was the only vehicle to meet the U.S. Army's requirements for engine capability and utility while maintaining a curb weight of under 1300 lbs. Its performance in the war earned it a reputation of a loyal, durable, and virtually indestructible car, and enabled the first civilian Jeep called the Willys CJ-2A to be produced following the war.