Finding the Right SUV Model for Your Family Is Fun
If you’re on the lookout for a new Jeep, you are in good company. Two of the bestselling vehicles of 2022 (so far) are the Jeep Grand Cherokee (#5) and the Jeep Wrangler (#15). There are many reasons for Jeep’s popularity, including its long and storied tradition as one of America’s most dependable and adventurous vehicles. Jeep first mass-marketed its autos to the growing United States’ car-buying public during the 1940s right after World War II.
Jeep decided to take full advantage of the positive waves of emotion that accompanied the end of that long and challenging war overseas. With the CJ, Jeep introduced a rugged, family-style vehicle with off-road capability that approximated what our soldiers drove during the war. It also gave our service members something familiar when they returned home to North America.
In the decades since, Jeep has consistently refined and improved its offerings of sport utility vehicles to the car-buying public, not least through its many mergers with other auto companies, including Kaiser Motors, American Motors Corporation (AMC), Chrysler, Daimler-Benz, Fiat, and now Stellantis. Jeep introduced the immensely popular Jeep Cherokee in 1974 and the even more popular Jeep Wrangler in 1986.
Now, Jeep sells more than a half-dozen SUVs that are great for all kinds of driving experiences. Jeeps consistently pass grueling off-road capability tests with ease and yet they offer the comfort and amenities you’d expect from a daily driver. For example, Jeeps are SiriusXM Guardian-equipped and offer a host of additional connected services.
You can drive Jeeps around town as commuter vehicles for your daily driving and still take those models that are trail-rated on an off-road adventure. Jeep offers a full selection of small, midsize, large, and crossover options for car buyers. They also offer numerous opportunities to upgrade with mods galore, including hybrid and electric vehicles.
So, take a moment to read our buying guide below for the complete details. We will examine all the various Jeep options on the market today to help you find the right Jeep SUV model for you and your family.
Why Are Jeep SUVs Popular?
What’s not to like? Jeeps are sleek and beautiful while maintaining that rugged and functional allure the Jeep brand is famous for. Plus, they are durable: even when off-roading, Jeeps maintain good tire condition. They appear wide-bodied and boxy, flashing a formidable look for the trails, streets, and highways. In a Jeep, you can truly “Go anywhere. Do Anything.”
Jeeps combine beauty and brawn. They have a stylish exterior with an array of body colors to choose from. The Wrangler especially offers top-down, ready-for-adventure fun. Most models also provide an impressive off-roading experience with independent suspension and four-wheel drive, giving you confidence and peace of mind the next time you find yourself in harsh weather conditions or on rough terrain. Plus, when you drive a Jeep, you are part of the awesome Jeep community. You can start waving or Jeep ducking or going to Jeep parties. But those are extras. Jeeps are popular, most of all, because they are high-quality vehicles made for your fun-loving, adventurous lifestyle.
History of Jeep
In 1940, soon to be mired in World War II, the US Army solicited bids for a light reconnaissance vehicle, meant to replace the mule and the motorcycle for battlefield transport. Three companies responded—Bantam, Willys-Overland, and Ford. Although each company would contribute to the ultimate design of the first Jeep, Willys-Overland was eventually awarded the contract. The Toledo, Ohio, company produced a vehicle that was later described by General George C. Marshall as “America’s greatest contribution to modern warfare.”
That first model, the Willys MB, was a solid and versatile 4x4 with the ability to tackle nearly any terrain and task. It stormed the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima, fought in the deserts of North Africa, and traversed the mountains of Italy. It served as a troops and supplies transporter, a machine-gun mounted infantry vehicle, an ambulance, a tractor, a fire truck, a river-forder, and a snowplow. All told, the US produced over 600,000 Jeeps for the war effort. As World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle said, “It did everything. It went everywhere.”
After the war was over and the United States had won, the Jeep brand decided to translate that victory into designing a civilian Jeep for the masses. Willys-Overland retained the Jeep trademark and shifted to civilian production, modifying the Willys MB into the Willys CJ-2A. They figured that Americans would want the same type of 4x4 experience that service personnel had used so effectively during the war. In the more than eight decades since World War II ended, people still enjoy the rugged look and legendary off-roading capability the Jeep brand offers today.
Working History: The Jeep Station Wagon
Jeep was also responsible for creating one of the first SUVs: the Willys Station Wagon. Produced from 1946 to 1964, it was marketed as a utility vehicle, making it an affordable family car. It became an instant hit, selling 300,000 vehicles before Jeep retired the model. Willys-Overland described it as “the people’s car.” The first all-steel, factory-built station wagon in North America was perfect for growing suburban families, with space for up to seven passengers and removable seats for extra cargo space.
While the Jeep Station Wagon is now part of the previously-owned inventory, it’s still a great car and worth buying as part of Jeep history. It was phased out in 1964 and replaced by the more scaled-up and luxury-focused Wagoneer. The Wagoneer went into production from 1962 to 1991 and was recently brought back into the Jeep lineup.
Benefits of a Jeep
- Rugged off-roading capability and confidence in all weather conditions, especially with the trail-rated versions.
- Excellent overall options for fuel consumption ratings. The Wrangler Unlimited Sport, for example, gets 21 MPG combined. Jeep also offers hybrid, diesel, and electric models.
- The most modifiable SUV on the market. Wranglers and Cherokees especially have strong aftermarket support to build your dream vehicle at a reasonable price.
- A 5-3-5 vehicle warranty plan including servicing, roadside assistance, and five years/75,000 miles of vehicle warranty cover. Check the individual model warranty for details.
- Uconnect (previously Jeep Connect) includes an on-call roadside assistance service in cellular range, the Vehicle Finder app support, and other connected services.
- Many options for a low-cost vehicle
- Safety features to prevent loss of vehicle control
- Options for SiriusXM Guardian-equipped vehicles
In 2007, the compact crossover Jeep Compass debuted with the Jeep Active Drive Low 4x4 system, a first of its class 4x4 capability. It lies in the midrange of Jeep’s SUVs size-wise, fitting snuggly between the Cherokee (larger) and Renegade (smaller).
Its sporty packages can help anyone off-road with ease. The Compass’ latest body style is arguably more attractive than in past years, and a 2022 redesign has its interior amenities growing by leaps and bounds, including Uconnect and Vehicle Finder.
The base model starts at $26,785 and includes Jeep Selec-Terrain Traction. Contact a dealer for details, including options for applying for a trade-in vehicle, and check the warranty for details on pre-owned vehicles.
Jeep Compass Trailhawk
The Jeep Compass Trailhawk trim was one of the top-rated 2020 SUVs because it offers the best off-roading package and superior crash-avoidance technology. It’s boosted with a 1-inch factory lift and includes 17-inch aluminum wheels as well as all-season tires.
With the 2022 redesign, the Jeep Compass Trailhawk is a solid choice for off-roading with great tire condition. Its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine packs 177 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. The Compass Trailhawk is fit for the trail, featuring off-road accessories such as all-wheel drive with low-range capability, hill descent control, 20:1 crawl ratio, underbody skid plates, front and rear tow hooks, beefed-up suspension, higher ride height, and more.
Featuring the Jeep Selec-Train Traction system, the Jeep Compass Trailhawk is rated for snow, mud, rock, and sand. Jeep intends this brand to be the best of both worlds – a dependable family car with decent fuel economy, comfortable ride, and off-road capability. The Jeep Compass with Trailhawk trim starts at $31,395.
The Cherokee has provided Jeep owners with a reliable SUV in various styles with a better than average vehicle warranty for almost 50 years now. Jeep introduced this legendary, full-sized sport-utility vehicle back in 1974 as a sportier alternative to a Jeep Wagoneer.
From 1984 to 2012, the company scaled its Cherokee base model back to a compact SUV and took advantage of changing auto trends that included better fuel economy, a more extended vehicle warranty, upgraded handling, and Uconnect. Uconnect, previously Jeep Connect, gives owners access to roadside assistance service, Vehicle Finder, and media options.
Since 2013, the Cherokee has anchored Jeep’s compact crossover line, and like most Jeeps, the Cherokee feels big and sturdy. It also includes a variety of extras like the range power transfer unit (PTU) that allows the all-wheel-drive to transfer power from wheel to wheel seamlessly.
Starting at $31,590, some of the Cherokee’s best features are its higher-than-average towing capacity and Jeep Selec-Terrain Traction for its tires.
With the standard V-6, it can tow up to 4,500 pounds. That’s enough for a small travel trailer or toy hauler. All Cherokees are SiriusXM Guardian-equipped vehicles and come with a standard 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system. See the terms of service for complete service limitations on both Uconnect and SiriusXM Guardian.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
If the Cherokee is the company’s workhorse, then the Jeep Grand Cherokee is the company’s Clydesdale.
The Grand Cherokee is the bolder big brother that has Best-in-Class 4x4 capability, impressive fuel ratings, rugged looks, and luxurious interiors. It’s so nice and stylish that it won an Editor’s Choice Award from Car and Driver. Though it’s 10 grand more expensive than a base Cherokee, that “Grand” gets you handsome exterior stylings, upscale safety features, a solid ride, and a Jeep Active Drive Low 4x4 system.
In the 4xe model, the Grand Cherokee is also one of the greenest Jeep options. You can get it as a plug-in hybrid vehicle with an estimated 25 miles of all-electric range and a combined fuel economy rating of 56 U.S. miles per gallon equivalent, MPGe.
Jeep offers several Grand Cherokee models and seven trims, including the Limited, Laredo, Altitude, Summit, Trailhawk, and Overland. If you upgrade to the Jeep Grand Cherokee L or Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Edition, you get three rows of seats for 7-8 passengers and Jeep Selec-Terrain Traction. The Jeep Grand Cherokee L averages 23 mpg overall and can tow at least three tons with its V-6 engine.
Prices begin at $40,120 for the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, $65,500 for the Jeep Grand Cherokee L, and $58,245 for the Jeep Grand Cherokee WK. For another $6,000, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited edition includes ample ground clearance, leather upholstery, a powered rear liftgate, remote start, and advanced tech features in addition to Uconnect and Vehicle Finder.
Since 2014, the Jeep Renegade has given younger fans a more affordable entry point into the Jeep line. It provides a peppier ride and more off-roading proficiency than its competitors in the subcompact SUV market.
The Renegade is cute and cube-like, includes Uconnect and Vehicle Finder, and provides a comfy ride for drivers and passengers alike.
The base model Jeep Renegade begins at $25,790, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration considers it a safe vehicle. All renditions include a “Since 1941” Easter Egg imprinted on the dashboard. See our previous Jeep Easter Egg article for more.
The seats fold down flat, giving more cargo space than previous models. The company’s entry-level vehicle also includes several technological improvements, including Jeep Selec-Terrain Traction, front parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, and parallel parking assistance.
The most significant benefit comes in fuel consumption, with MPG that rivals all the other models in the family. If you move out of cellular range, you don’t have to panic about when you’ll run out of gas. It can keep going for miles.
Purchase new or previously owned, with or without a trade-in vehicle, but always check the newer model warranty for details.
Jeep Wagoneer and Jeep Grand Wagoneer
First introduced in 1962 as the original luxury SUV but discontinued in 1991, the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer roared back to life in 2022. The 2022 Wagoneers provide Jeep fans with the size and versatility that the Wagoneer is known for but now with an opulent interior that includes dynamic third-row seating.
Although the Wagoneers look similar to the Grand Cherokee L, they are 4 inches taller, 6.3 inches wider, and 9.8 inches longer. They’re all available with larger wheelbases, making them comparable to the Suburban, Yukon XL, Expedition Max, Escalade ESV, and Navigator L. Both the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer have lavish interiors with leather seats, wood accents, aluminum trim, and the option for individual touchscreens for passengers in the front seats and second row. But what makes the Grand Wagoneer “Grand”? It has next-level quality in powertrains, stylings, interior layout, and equipment, with up to 75 inches of total touchscreen space throughout the cabin. Both vehicles, however, have a luxurious modern interior that is perfect for a large and active family.
Under the hood, the Wagoneer and the Grand Wagoneer are powered by V8 engines and eight-speed automatic transmissions, which give them that trademark Jeep power. The Wagoneer has a 48-volt eTorque hybrid system with electric assist, which provides 404 lb-ft of torque and a towing capacity of up to 10,000 pounds. Meanwhile, the Grand Wagoneer, which has a more powerful engine but is heavier, provides 455 lb-ft of torque and can tow 9,860 pounds.
These premium three-row Jeeps feature the newest Active Drive Low 4x4 system and Jeep Selec-Terrain Traction. Wagoneers ensure a comfortable ride, coming equipped with four-corner air suspension, and have five terrain modes--auto, sport, rock, snow, and mud/sand--as well as hill-descent control. They also come standard with driver-assistance features, including roadside assistance service, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, Uconnect, Vehicle Finder, and pedestrian detection. While the Wagoneers provide that same Jeep power and off-roading capability, these state-of-the-art tech features ensure a safe ride too.
The 2023 Wagoneer starts at $61,000 while the Grand Wagoneer starts at $89,995. However, be aware that this is a thirsty animal; its gas mileage is on the low side.
If you’re in the market for a used Jeep SUV, the Jeep Commander is a good choice. The Commander was in production from 2005 to 2010 and fits five to seven passengers. Jeep added a few inches to the main Wagoneer wheelbase to squeeze in the third row of seats. The second and third rows sat higher than the driver and shotgun seats to accommodate extra passengers.
The Commander still fetches a reasonable price on the used auto market, even though a decade-plus has passed since Jeep stopped production. This is partly due to the Jeep Active Drive Low 4x4 system that only engages when needed.
In its day, the Commander was known for several high-end safety features: anti-lock brakes, rear parking sensors, child safety locks, and stability control. It’s also a good trade-in vehicle with better than average engine compartment condition after use. According to Edmunds.com, a 2010 Jeep Commander goes for between $6,000 and $8,000.
Like the Jeep Commander, another Jeep SUV that stopped production in the United States about a decade ago was the Jeep Liberty. It was originally intended to replace the Cherokee. It was one of the smallest SUVs Jeep ever built and the first to utilize rack and pinion steering.
In its first iteration, from 2002 to 2007, the Liberty had a small four-cylinder engine, with a V6 and turbo diesel replacing it in mid-production. Buyers could choose between two or four-wheel drive and three trim levels. It also came equipped with SiriusXM Guardian and Jeep Selec-Terrain Traction.
The 2008 model year introduced a fully redesigned Liberty, and it stuck around until 2012. They eliminated the four-cylinder engine and only offered a V6 during this second wave of production. This dropped the fuel economy to 22 mpg on the highway and only 16 mpg in city driving. Although the V6 did raise the towing capacity to 5,000 pounds, which is almost unheard of in a compact SUV.
According to Edmunds.com, a 2012 Jeep Liberty goes for between $10,000 and $20,000.
Closing in on its 40th consecutive year of production, the Jeep Wrangler traces its design roots back to the original civilian Jeeps (CJs) of yesteryear. The Jeep Wrangler features include a windshield that can be folded down flat and the ability to remove the doors. Wranglers also have removable hard or soft-top versions, and they come complete with trackbars and anti-roll bars. It is one of the only SUVs on the market that allows the wind to blow through your hair.
The Wrangler is one of the top-rated compact SUVs on the market today, winning Vincentric’s Best Value in America award for 2022. It holds its value on the resale market. It’s safe, too, with plenty of built-in options to avoid loss of vehicle control on bad roads.
What the Jeep Wrangler is really known for, however, is its off-roading prowess. The 4×3 hybrid powertrain is available on any four-door 2022 Jeep Wrangler, which includes the most off-road-ready trim, the Rubicon. The Jeep Wrangler has over 10” of ground clearance and 4WD with a transfer case.
In the Rubicon trim, you also get front and rear locking differentials, Dana axles, an electronically disconnecting sway bar, a shorter final drive ratio, a 30” fording depth, and bigger off-road tires. The Rubicons also now come standard with Off-Road Plus, a feature that allows you to drive at higher speeds with the locking rear differential engaged. With the push of a button, you can tailor throttle, transmission shift points, and traction control for peak performance on both sand dunes and rocky trails.
There are 11 trims to choose from, and they all look awesome. Wranglers come in 11 colors, including classic green and khaki. Buyers can opt for packages that include leather upholstery, in-dash navigation, Uconnect, Vehicle Finder, and a power-operated soft top. Those versions make the Wrangler seem like glamping on four wheels with first-class 4x4 capability.
So how do you decide? In a nutshell: The Sport is the most basic model; the Willys and Willy Sport are more rugged off-roading, trail-ready machines; the Sport S is fully customizable; the Islander is all about the beach; the 80th Anniversary has a gorgeous granite exterior; the Sahara and Altitude have all the Sport S features, plus 18-inch wheels and distinctive interior and exterior accents; the Rubicon is the most powerful and rugged off-roading SUV; the Sahara Altitude includes some Rubicon trim features and also gloss black accents; and, finally, the High Altitude includes some Sahara trim features, 20-inch gloss black tires, a body-color hardtop, and more. All are equipped with SiriusXM Guardian so news and music are never far away.
The 2022 Jeep Wrangler Sport begins at $31,590. It includes Jeep Selec-Terrain Traction and Jeep Active Drive Low 4x4 system.
Additionally, Jeep Wrangler 4xe Hybrid electric vehicles provide 25 miles of all-electric driving, allowing drivers to go off-roading at low speed for a few stress-free hours. For more on choosing the right Wrangler for you, click here.
Which Jeep SUV Model Is the Right Size for Me?
It depends on what you want to get out of your Jeep SUV. If you are looking for a real off-road machine, the Jeep Wrangler is best suited for off-roading prowess. But if it’s luxury you’re after or if you have a large family and need a third seat, your best bet is a Grand Wagoneer.
If you are somewhere in the middle, any other Jeep SUVs available today might be a good option. Taller people might like the Jeep Cherokee or Jeep Grand Cherokee because of the ground clearance. Both are considered midsize SUVs and come in just under 6 feet in height.
Vacationers and others who tend to pack a lot might appreciate the Jeep Compass or Jeep Compass Trailhawk for its extra cargo space. Although a compact SUV, the Compass has more storage than the Jeep Cherokee and double that of the Wrangler.
Meanwhile, the Jeep Renegade is well-suited for first-time car buyers, young families, and those who want a solid but less expensive introduction to the Jeep brand.
In the mid-1940s, Jeep veered away from strictly producing military vehicles and began building civilian off-road autos for everyday driving, on and off the road.
Over the decades, Jeep has continued to develop a line of sport utility vehicles that offer rugged good looks, four-wheel drive, tons of features, and an air of superiority. Jeeps are easy to spot on the road with their seven-slot grilles and boxy frames.
Today, if you are a car buyer interested in a Jeep, you have several choices, including the luxurious Grand Wagoneer, ultra-sporty Wrangler, and the family-friendly Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Grand Cherokee L. A couple of throwbacks – the Jeep Liberty and Jeep Commander – still fetch reasonable prices on the secondary market, especially with a trade-in vehicle that’s in good condition with a fair appraisal.
If you’re looking for a new or used SUV, we suggest you contact a local Jeep dealer for details and test drive one or more models. Many offers currently exist for current owners of Dodge, Ram, or FIAT vehicles to trade in towards your new Jeep. We’re sure you’ll find the right Jeep for you and your lifestyle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most often asked questions concerning Jeep SUVs.
Q: Which model of Jeep is best?
Again, this is a personal choice, depending on how you’ll be using the SUV. Do you need a low-cost vehicle? You might go with the Renegade. Want luxury? Go with the Grand Wagoneer. Looking for off-road capability? The Wrangler is your best option. Better yet, test drive several and find the one that fits you best.
Q: Is Jeep SUV a good car?
Eighty years of production can’t be wrong, right? The Jeep brand has won a bevy of awards through the years and earned its place among the best auto companies in North America. For decades, many owners have replaced older models with newer ones and kept a Jeep in their driveways.
Q: What is the cheapest model of Jeep?
The Renegade is the least expensive Jeep, starting at $25,790. For a low-cost vehicle, the Renegade still offers first-in-class 4x4 capability.
Q: How much does the average Jeep cost?
Hundreds of options throughout the line are available in North America, but the cost is always before dealer charges, making this a difficult question. The Renegade comes in at the low-end at $25,790, the Wrangler Sport arrives in the middle at $31,590, while the high-end Grand Wagoneer tops out at $89,995. Ask your dealer for complete details.
Q: Is the Jeep Wrangler comfortable?
You might give up a bit of comfort to enjoy the off-roading capabilities of the Wrangler. Still, optional packages increase the comfort and styling level over the base model. If you’re willing to spend a little more, your comfort level will likewise increase.
Q: What is the top-of-line Jeep?
It depends on what you’re looking for. The most luxurious SUV of the Wrangler lineup by far is the High Altitude. The interior features the finest leather-trimmed seats with a distinctive quilted pattern and High Altitude embroidery on the front seatbacks. It has a leather-wrapped steering wheel with contrasting caramel stitching and a dramatic light-black chrome treatment. Advanced technology includes Uconnect 4C NAV with an 8.4-inch touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a nine-speaker Alpine Premium Audio System, and premium safety features. In other words, quite fancy.
But for overall luxury and cost, the Grand Wagoneer wins this award. Its modern redesign makes it stunning to look at. In addition, it has an opulent interior that includes dynamic third-row seating. It can be all yours for a mere $89,995.
Q: Which Jeep model is the most luxurious?
Again, the Grand Wagoneer is the most expensive model, with the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited coming a close second.
Q: Are Jeeps expensive to maintain?
We have found no evidence that Jeeps are more expensive to maintain than any other SUV. With proper care and maintenance, your Jeep should last for many years.
Q: What are the sizes of Jeep SUVs?
- Subcompact: Jeep Renegade
- Compact: Jeep Compass
- Midsize: Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Grand Cherokee
- Full size: Jeep Grand Wagoneer
- Off-road: Jeep Wrangler
Q: Is Jeep Cherokee a crossover or an SUV?
In its current version, the Cherokee is a crossover. That means it is built on a car chassis with independent suspension. Traditional SUVs are built on truck platforms.
Q: Is Jeep Cherokee a midsize SUV?
Yes, the Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited are considered midsized SUVs.
Q: What kind of SUV does Jeep make?
In a nutshell, Jeep makes a line of SUVs adept at both off-roading and city/highway driving. They include first-class 4x4 capability, 7-8 passenger vehicles, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
Q: Are Jeep SUVs reliable?
On the 2022 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, Jeep ranked close to the industry average for reliability. One reason for its less-than-expected score is because of the many infotainment options the brand offers, which can cause issues. But when it comes to the actual driving, to reliability on and off the road? Jeep can’t be beat.
Q: Are Jeep SUVs classified as on-road or off-road vehicles according to Transport Canada?
The Government of Canada hasn’t passed a specific ruling on Jeep SUVs. However, the Jeep SUV is primarily designed as an on-road vehicle. Does it have the ability to operate off-road? Oh yeah. But that doesn't change its categorization.