Update! In the time since this article was originally published, there have been a lot of exciting developments in the Jeep universe—including an all-new generation, hybrid powertrains, and (gasp!) even a new Jeep truck. To that end, we’ve made some updates to this list to make it more current.


America was gearing up for war, and our young nation’s military leaders needed a versatile all-terrain vehicle to effectively navigate theaters of war.

Four-wheel drive technology first appeared at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1913, 4×4 trucks designed for military use showed up on battlefields. They were slow, bulky, and easy targets. Later, engineers converted Ford light trucks to four-wheel-drive vehicles, but those improvements still weren’t enough for U.S. Army officials on the hunt for the ultimate scout vehicle.

The American Bantam Car Company sketched up a prototype known as the Bantam Reconnaissance Car, which would ultimately serve as the framework for America’s first Jeep, and the basic design Willys-Overland used to build the original MB.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Why try to rank the best Jeeps of all time, you ask? Because Jeep is awesome and we like ranking things. We didn’t need another reason.

Some of you will probably disagree with our list. Tell us why and maybe we’ll change our minds.

Our Top 10 Favorite Jeep Models

10. Wrangler YJ

a jeep wrangler yj with square led headlights

Square headlights aside, how many vehicles can outrun an enraged tyrannosaurus rex?

While it’s easy to point to some of the YJ’s growing pains and corporate parts bin engineering, let’s not overlook the fact that it gave us the Wrangler name and, more importantly, accelerated the Wrangler’s transition to a more practical, everyday vehicle—with gobs of off-road performance still packed in.

9. Jeep Wagoneer

stock jeep wagoneer
(Image/Summit Racing)

In many ways, the full size Wagoneer predicted the luxury SUV market decades before it went supernova.

And while we love the idea of taking a posh-trimmed Wagoneer to the nearest New England clambake, it’s best enjoyed over rutted trails and snowy backroads—where the Wagoneer’s 4×4 Jeep lineage and mix of potent drivetrain combos can really shine.

8. CJ-8 Scrambler

4bt diesel powered jeep cj-8 scrambler with hardtop

As a business move designed to steal market share from domestic light trucks, it was a dud.

But for simply being an awesome top-off off-road hauler, the CJ-8 is aces in our book. Thanks to its limited production, the CJ-8 (marketed under the name “Scrambler”) is now a sweetheart of the vintage off-roading crowd and many are now leading the gentle life on the cruise-in and show car circuit.

7. FSJ Gladiator Truck

vintage jeep gladiator full size pickup truck

Whilw nowadays most folks think of the modern JT Gladiator when they hear the words “Jeep truck,” let’s not forget that the Gladiator name actually hearkens back to the Full Size Jeep lineup that began in the early 1960s.

Rugged and tough, these FSJ trucks helped cement the Jeep’s workhorse pedigree.

6. Wrangler TJ

a red jeep wranlger tj with winch

Though they were glad to see round headlights return, many off-road enthusiasts were skeptical about the TJ Wrangler’s new coil springs front and rear.

But all doubts were erased once the Wrangler TJ got out into the wild. In fact, it proved a far more capable off-roader than its leaf-spring counterparts and TJs continue to be common sights on trails and fire roads to this very day.

5. CJ-2A

Know how to tell the differences between all the CJ models? You may enjoy our Spotter’s Guide: A Quick Rundown of the Jeep CJ Generations. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

This is the first-ever Civilian Jeep. The 1945 Willys. And we pay homage to its originality and all of the wonderful vehicles for which this classic paved the way. The O.G. CJ-2A is the reason why we’re still enjoying open-top off-roading to this very day.

In other words, you can thank the CJ-2A for proving to the corporate bean-counters that there was a commercial market for these plucky off roaders.

4. Wrangler JL

side view of jeep wrangler jl on muddy trail
Get all the details on Summit Racing’s Jeep Wrangler Rubicon build series here. (Image/Summit Racing)

It will drive over anything you want. It’s comfortable driving in ice and snow. It’s comfortable driving without tops and doors on gorgeous spring, summer, or fall days. It can be the best-looking AND best-performing vehicle at your next mud and rock-crawling adventure. And it can be the best-looking AND best-performing vehicle during your daily commute to work.

The Wrangler JL is a gift to…everyone. We love it like family, and don’t hesitate to call it one of our favorite Jeeps ever.

3. Cherokee XJ

a white jeep cherokee xj modified off roader

Go to any off-road park, anywhere, at any time, and we bet—nay—guarantee that you’ll see an XJ Cherokee. That’s because the unibody XJ has a well-deserved reputation as a cheap, upgradeable, and practical alterative to more expensive off-roaders.

Or at least it was, anyway—the XJ’s popularity has exploded in recent years, vaulting Cherokee prices to the stratosphere. Nowadays, clean, unmolested examples command a huge premium.

And you don’t need to be Mama Fratelli to know how versatile an XJ is.

2. CJ-5


The CJ-5 enjoys the distinction of having the longest run of any Jeep, ever. And it ushered in the familiar curved fenders and traditional grille/headlight arrangement that would be used on *almost* every other Jeep along the CJ lineage.

But more impressively, the design didn’t change much in its 30-ish year production cycle. In fact, take a 1955 Cj-5 and a 1983 CJ-5, park them next to each other, blur your eyes a bit, and they’re darn-near identical.

We can think of maybe one other vehicle that can pass that timeless squint test.


1. Willys MB/Ford GPW

front grille and side view of a ford gpw world war 2 military jeep

As expected, the Number One spot on our list is reserved for the original Jeep, born from the battlefields of World War 2.

In truth, the Jeep had quite a few parents that influenced its design and construction, which is why we’re giving the nod to both the Willys MB and Ford GPW here. (You can read all about the Jeep’s origin story in this article.) But don’t get confused on the GPW/MB distinction—just point and say “Army Jeep.”

That’s why it’s an American icon.

…And that’s why it’s Number One here.