With their humble beginnings in the 1940s as untested, unproven machines of war, Jeeps continue to embody the spirit of freedom and pride they brought to the WW2 battlefield 70 years ago. Today, Jeep offers a range of utility vehicles for civilian use both on- and off-road.
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In 1940, Willys-Overland and Ford were contracted to improve the American Bantam Car Company's prototype reconnaissance vehicle, in order to fulfill the U.S. military's urgent need for a lightweight, quarter-ton 4x4 reconnaissance vehicle for active duty.
Within a year, the blueprints for one of the most versatile and recognizable vehicles in the world was born. Produced from 1941 to 1945, the Willys MB (a.k.a. Ford GPW) was battle-hardened by U.S. Army infantry regiments deployed around the world.
In 1945, after WW2 ended, Willys started producing the CJ (or Civilian Jeep) lineage with the CJ-2A – one of the first civilian vehicles anywhere to be equipped with four-wheel drive from the factory – followed by the CJ-3B in 1953.
The Jeep trademark was granted to Willys in 1950, seven years after the original trademark brand-name application had been filed. Kaiser Motors bought Willys in '53 and renamed it the Willys Motor Company, which launched the round-fendered CJ-5 model in 1954 that amazingly lasted until 1983.
The full-size Jeep Wagoneer came out in 1963 and lasted until 1991 with only minor mechanical updates to it.
American Motors Corporation (AMC) bought Jeep in 1970. The full-size body-on-frame Jeep Cherokee SUV (SJ) came first, from 1974 to 1983. A long-wheelbase version of the CJ arrived two years later – the CJ-7 was first to get the available automatic all-wheel drive system called Quadra-Trac. It was produced for a decade.
A more compact unibody version of the Cherokee (XJ) was produced from 1984 to 2001; Comanche, the pickup truck version, was built from '86 until '92.
The Grand Cherokee was also developed by AMC, however, didn't launch until 1993, some six years after Chrysler purchased AMC from Renault in 1987.
The redesigned civilian jeep came out later that year with a new name. Keeping the front and rear live axles, the new Wrangler had a wider track, slightly less ground clearance and more comfort features over the CJ-5 predecessor. The new generation ('87 to '95) became known as the Jeep YJ with TJ following from '97 to '06.
Redesigned Grand Cherokees were released in 1999, 2005 (with noteworthy options such as Quadra-Trac II and the availability of 5.7- and 6.1-litre Hemi V8s) and then again in 2011 where new four-wheel independent suspension improves its on-road handling.
A 10-inch longer wheelbase Wrangler Unlimited (LJ) model was introduced in 2004 with a hardcore off-roading Rubicon Unlimited model following in 2005. After a complete redesign and new platform (JK) in 2007, the current Wrangler got its first facelift in 2010.
The Jeep Liberty compact SUV succeeded the Cherokee in 2001 here in North America, though its name remains in other markets. The 7-passenger Commander was offered from 2006 to 2010, while in 2007, the second-generation Liberty launched alongside a pair of new Jeep compact crossovers – the Patriot and Compass, respectively – which differ only in their styling and marketing.
Most of Jeep's lineup has been redesigned for 2011, which includes the compact Compass, Patriot and Liberty, the mid-size Grand Cherokee and, of course, the go-anywhere, do-anything Jeep Wranglers, in 2-door and Unlimited 4-door models.
In North America, few SUVs are as grand as Jeep's Grand Cherokee. It's no small wonder that's been voted Auto123.com's favourite midsize utility vehicle for 5 years in a row. This fact says a truckload about the big Jeep's place on the SUV landscape on our market.
The Jeep Patriot's job was to bring the brand's big, capable and handsome styling language to a value-minded shopper after an affordable and adventurous ride that provided low-cost access to four-wheel drive adventure seekers.
When you say the word "Jeep," certain things come to mind; mud-covered sides, huge treaded tires, weekends in the woods, bandanas, Labrador dogs, surf boards, and khakis with hiking boots. While I wasn't hoping to rock a bandana with a few chocolate Labs in the back, I was expecting the Jeep Compass to be a bit more "Jeep" than it was.
According to Road & Track, the new, fourth-generation Jeep Wrangler may come with an available power retractable top. This is definitely great news for potential buyers who dislike manually retracting soft tops and heavy, removable hard tops.
Pictures of the all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade are now circulating across the web, and it looks... well, you be the judge.
The 2014 Patriot is one of the most affordable and most fuel-efficient Jeeps you can buy. This compact SUV features traditional Jeep styling and ''Trail Rated'' off-road capability. It now comes with an optional 6-speed automatic transmission to boot.