First mass-produced in the 1940s for the United States armed forces, the jeep is a small, all-purpose vehicle. With its powerful engine, a standard jeep can haul loads of more than half a ton and maneuver over rugged terrain.
Jeep, sturdy, all-purpose, small but high-powered open automobile, first mass-produced for the United States armed forces in 1940. Combining the ruggedness of a truck with the speed and mobility of a light car, the original jeep, called a “peep” during World War II (1939-45), was about 3 m (11 ft) long and 1.5 m (5 ft) wide, carried six passengers, and could travel about 105 km/h (about 65 mph). Essential features were a powerful engine, two- and four-wheel drive, and deep-treaded tires. A standard jeep can haul a load of half a ton or more and maneuvers well over mud or hilly terrain. Modern jeeps, available commercially, are often capable of traveling at speeds of 144 km/h (90 mph) or greater. The popular name is derived from the abbreviation of “general-purpose” (g.p.) vehicle.