Jeeps were arguably the first sport-utility vehicles on the market. They were originally designed for use by the United States army in World War II. The prototype was designed by Bantam BRC and Willys MB Jeeps went into production in 1941.
Early models were lightweight and sat a handful of people. Though no one is certain how they came to be called “jeeps,” some theories posit that the title came from GP, an abbreviation which referred to general purpose vehicles. Another theory suggests that jeeps were named after a character in a popular cartoon. Popeye featured a character called “Eugene the Jeep.”
The first civilian jeeps were manufactured in 1945. Today, World War II-era jeeps are considered as collectors’ items and Jeep is now a brand in its own right, which is owned by a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and has inspired other utility vehicles over time, including the Land Rover. The company headquarters are located in Toledo, Ohio, where they currently manufacture a wide range of sport-utility vehicles and more traditional, off-road jeeps which still maintain a rugged, utilitarian look.
Types of Jeeps
Today, there are a wide variety of Jeep models available on the market. These include:
- Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a midsize luxury crossover sport-utility vehicle. Unlike other SUVs, it has a unibody chassis instead of body-on-frame construction. The first generation of Grand Cherokees was introduced in 1992, with the first models available for the following year. However, the Grand Cherokee was first conceived in 1983, when the company first set about designing a larger version of the Jeep Cherokee.
- Jeep Cherokee. The Jeep Cherokee was introduced in 1974. Back then, it was a full-size SUV with two doors and was based on the design of a vehicle called the Wagoneer. Today, the Jeep Cherokee is a mid-size crossover SUV. It has seen many redesigns over the years, but has remained a popular and affordable SUV in its class.
- Jeep Renegade. The Jeep Renegade is a subcompact crossover SUV. It is the smallest vehicle in Jeep’s lineup and was introduced to the public in 2014. It is the first Jeep vehicle to be manufactured outside of the United States.
- Jeep Wrangler. The Jeep Wrangler is a compact mid-size SUV that has off-road and four-wheel drive capabilities. It’s currently in its third generation, and was announced in 1986. Though it is not directly descended from WWII-era jeeps, it bears a classic jeep design.
- Jeep Compass. The Jeep Compass is a compact crossover SUV that was introduced in 2007. Five years before this vehicle’s introduction, Jeep had premiered a concept vehicle by the same name in Detroit. The production version finally appeared in 2006. The Compass is considered an entry-level SUV. Jeep has announced plans to phase out the Compass by 2018 along with the Jeep Patriot, perhaps only keeping one vehicle with one of the two names.
- Jeep Patriot. The Jeep Patriot is a compact crossover SUV that was introduced in 2007 and debuted in 2009. It is similar to the Jeep Compass in many respects, though the design is different.