Jeep Wrangler’s Great, Great, Grandaddy

Jeep Wrangler’s Great, Great, Grandaddy

The 2022 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is arguably the most capable stock off-road vehicle available today. Wranglers have long been considered the go-to off-road vehicle even when plainly superior vehicles were available. America is in love with Jeep, and we think it is worth the time to understand why. And to do that, we have to go back to the start of the Jeep gene pool.

Origins of Jeep DNA

1941 – 1945 Willys MB

Even though today’s consumers are three generations removed from World War II, they all recognize that OD green quarter-ton truck that got beat up shot up and kept going across the sands of Africa and mountains of Europe. From 1941 to 1945, the Willys MB (Jeep) cemented the vehicle’s reputation as a reliable indestructible cross-country ride. You can’t buy better advertising than good war coverage.

1945 – 1954 Willys CJ

Anxious to take advantage of the Jeep’s wartime reputation, Willys created the CJ-2A, which quickly earned a reputation for reliability, easy to fix, and almost indestructible vehicle. Willys retained the same basic body design as the wartime Jeep and the CJ became an immediate hit with the commercial and agricultural businesses.

1954 – 1983 Jeep CJ5

In 1953, Kaiser bought Willys and quickly rolled out the first officially named Jeep, the Jeep CJ5. While Kaiser cranked out several trims for the CJ, it kept the same iconic body and seven-slot grille design that the old warhorse had. The CJ5 had a 30-year production run, even surviving the purchase of Kaiser by American Motors in 1970.

1976 – 1986 – Jeep CJ-7

Eager to sell to a broader audience, AMC introduced the CJ-7, which was larger than the CJ-5, had a more civilized ride on pavement, and offered “optional equipment” like a metal roof, doors, and automatic transmission. The CJ-7 had an eleven-year run before AMC decided the CJ class needed to be replaced.

1987 -1995 Jeep Wrangler YJ

Chrysler Buys AMC, and the Wrangler make their first YJ model appearance. Ironically, the first Wrangler was designed with road performance in mind, not dirt spraying off-road adventure. As a result, the YJ had a lower ride height, wider track, and less body roll and acted far more civilized on the highway. Initially powered by a 2.5L 4-cylinder with a three-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission, the addition of an optional 4.2L I-6 with fuel injection provided a much-needed power boost.

1997 - 2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ

Not so much a redesign of the YJ as a major update. Notably, the TJ sported a coil spring suspension instead of the leaf spring arrangement that had been the standard. Gone also was the poor cabin climate control, body rattles, door-seal wind noise, and choppy ride making the TJ more appealing to a broader audience without giving up its off-road chops.

2007 – 2018 Jeep Wrangler JK

2007 saw a complete redesign of the Wrangler. The JK was taller, wider, longer, packed with new safety features like stability and traction control, and more powerful. Gone was the 4-cylinder replaced by a 3.8L 6-cylinder paired with a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Also, a 4-door trim appeared, which became an instant hit.

2018 – Present Jeep Wrangler JL

The current Wrangler focuses on modern technology and efficiency and maintaining and improving off-road capability. For the general car-buying public, the interior has been upgraded along with technology like an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system, rear parking sensors with cross-traffic alert, and a blind-spot monitoring system. In addition, fuel efficiency has been improved by reducing the Wrangler’s curb weight. The body is still steel, but the hood, doors, and windshield frame are now aluminum. An optional turbocharged 4-cylinder and eight-speed automatic are now available as well.

Jeep has managed to put together a ride anyone would be comfortable driving while still meeting the standards and capabilities off-road Jeepers demand. We think that’s because it still has the DNA of that old OD green MB.

Have a question about Jeeps. Call us at 877-223-6460 and speak to any of our Jeep fanatics for an answer.

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