A Brief History of The Jeep SUV

A Brief History of The Jeep SUV

Jeep is one of the most recognized vehicle brands today. They’re known mostly for their SUVs, which are some of the most popular cars in the United States. Here is a brief history of the Jeep SUV, from its origins all the way to today.

What Makes An SUV?

It’s a term that has become commonplace in our world, but what does it really mean to be a sport utility vehicle (SUV)? There was a time when these were considered a more specialized form of transportation—originally for work, and then eventually for those with a lot of kids. But today, you’ll see SUVs driving down the road with all kinds of drivers, regardless of purpose.

In many places, SUVs are actually classified as a light truck instead of a car, which gives them different standards for things like fuel efficiency. Modern SUVs typically have four doors and a hatchback, whereas older 4×4 vehicles, and some today, such as Jeep Wranglers, only have one passenger’s door and one for the driver. Overall, the purpose of an SUV is to combine the functionality of an off-road vehicle or truck, with more comforts and versatility for less extreme settings.

Why Is Jeep So Important to the History of SUVs?

Today, there are many people who are massive fans of various Jeep SUV model lines. The Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are some of the most beloved cars by drivers. This is evident considering the fact it has been going for five generations, starting way back in 1974. In fact, many rightly credit the 1984 Jeep Cherokee as being the first true SUV in the modern sense of the word.

This makes sense when you look at pictures of the Cherokee versus those of other cars at the time. It’s clearly going a different direction by combining the utility of a 4×4 with many of the more practical everyday uses of what today we know as a crossover.

But the importance of Jeeps to the history of SUVs goes back farther than the Cherokee. Even though Jeep Cherokees essentially minted the contemporary SUV concept, they weren’t the first ground-breaking Jeep vehicle to start a trend toward utility. The first Jeep vehicles offered to civilians were essentially updated versions of what soldiers had used during World War II. The overwhelming success and applicability of these vehicles made them a logical choice for farmers and other workers needing to traverse rough land. Though certainly not in the modern sense, in a way, the original Willys 4×4 was the forerunner to SUVs.

More Jeep SUVs for the History Books

Jeep didn’t stop building SUVs with the Cherokee. They knew they had a winning formula and wanted to keep compounding on its success. Today, they offer a wide range of SUVs. Here’s the full list of SUVs on the current Jeep roster:


-Grand Cherokee




Offering five unique SUVs for production, Jeep has realized what people are looking for when buying a vehicle today. All of these models come with a wide range of trim lines and available features to guarantee purchasers the best of what it means to be an SUV.

One of these models in particular, the Wrangler, sticks out on the list. Despite its rugged image and performance being crucial in defining the SUV in general, it’s difficult to even categorize it as such. As mentioned earlier, the modern SUV typically has four doors and a hatch, whereas the Wrangler has two doors and a rear gate that swings open horizontally. But the Wrangler, no doubt, is an essential member of the list, and overall one of the defining vehicles in the entire Jeep family. For most, it’s probably the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “Jeep.”

At the end of the day, Jeep has been one of the defining brands in the world of SUVs since this term came into existence decades ago. You can be sure they’ll continue playing this role, as they keep innovating and pushing the limits of vehicle performance.

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