Everything You Need To Know About the Jeep Gladiator
It’s been eight years since Fiat Chrysler Automobiles discontinued the Dodge Dakota and Jeep hasn’t produced a pickup truck since the XJ-based Comanche two-door bit the dust back in 1992.
So when Jeep announced they were creating a new pickup based on the hugely popular Jeep Wrangler JL, and gave us a sneak peek at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, it would be fair to say that we got a little excited.
The new Jeep Gladiator keeps all the things you loved about the Wrangler and adds a roomy 5-foot bed, fierce off-road performance, tremendous towing power, and enough bells and whistles to keep any truck-head happy. You can even get a lifted Jeep Gladiator.
So if you are looking to a midsize pickup truck with a single cab configuration and have been anxiously waiting to find out if Jeep’s new baby is the truck for you, then your waiting is over! Here is everything you need to know about the Jeep Gladiator.
Let’s start with the specifics. As mentioned, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator is a midsize pickup truck with a single cab configuration. The chassis is based off the Wrangler and like it’s SUV sibling the Gladiator has removable doors, a fold-down windshield, and both removable hard and soft-top roofs are available.
The new Gladiator is powered by a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 producing an average of 285 horsepower and 260 pounds-feet of torque. By 2020 you will also be able to buy your Gladiator complete with the FCA approved 3.0-liter EcoDiesel motor, putting out 260-horsepower and 442 pounds-feet of torque.
That horsepower is translated to the road by either a six-speed manual transmission, available on the 3.6-liter petrol model only, or an eight-speed automatic transmission. If you’ve been waiting for manual transmission in a small pickup, then the new Gladiator is your answer.
Compared to the new JL Wrangler Unlimited, 19.4 inches have been added to the wheelbase and 31 inches added to the overall length to accommodate a 5-foot steel bed with a payload that maxes out at 1,600 pounds.
That extra length is cushioned by Jeep’s five-link coil suspension, both front, and rear, a welcome addition given that leaf springs are the usual midsize truck suspension of choice.
You’ll also get your choice of trims, with the Sport, Sport S, luxury-spec’d Overland, and off-road-ready Rubicon available by 2020.
Looking at the outside of the Gladiator, it looks like exactly what it is; a stretched Wrangler with the flatbed. Similar to its Wrangler sibling, the Gladiator’s body construction is mostly aluminum, with the doors, hinges, hood, fenders, windshield frame and tailgate all constructed of aluminum to cut down on overall weight.
All those aluminum doors are removable, and the windshield folds down flat. The Gladiator comes with a zipperless Sunrider soft-top as standard, and you can choose from two hardtop choices in either matt black or the same color as the rest of the body.
Both styles of hardtop use Jeep’s Freedom Top panel system, with two removable panels over the heads of the front passengers.
The steel pickup bed comes with under-rail bed lighting and a lockable, damped tailgate with a three-position adjustment system. Depending on the trim you pick, you could also add in a Trail Rail cargo management system, a spray-in bedliner or a 400-watt, 115-volt, three-prong, covered power outlet
Anyone who has been in, or seen, the interior of the new 2018 Wrangler will recognize the interior detailing of the Gladiator straight off. The new horizontally oriented layout of the Wrangler is ported over to the Gladiator almost in its entirety.
The major change for the Gladiator is in the design of the back seat. The model-exclusive back bench is a 60/40 split and folds down to reveal a lockable storage compartment in the wall behind. It also folds up to reveal storage bins in the cabin’s floor.
In the front, you’ll have access to a 5-inch touchscreen, connected by Uconnect 3. With the Overland package, that will be upgraded to 7-inch or 8.4-inch screen, running Uconnect 4.
Music will come courtesy of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both featuring satellite radio support. The Overland will provide premium audio with the addition of a subwoofer and detachable wireless speaker.
The Overland, the most on-road friendly of the Gladiator models available, comes with large, pavement-oriented tires which, when combined with the five-link coil suspension, allows for a smooth bump-absorbing ride.
The combination of a solid front axle with the longer length and added weight makes the Gladiator a high-riding pickup that isn’t all that well suited to tight, winding roads. The acceleration from the 285-horsepower is certainly adequate, but if you came looking for sports car speeds, you are going to be sorely disappointed.
The six-speed manual transmission has all the quality we’ve come to expect from Jeep, but the Gladiator will keep you regularly shifting to keep it in the engine’s powerband, so it might be worth considering the eight-speed automatic transmission for ease of use.
As you might expect from a Jeep, the Gladiator has a fearsome offroad profile, with an approach angle of 46.3 degrees, a break-over angle of 20.38 degrees, and a departure angle of 26 degrees.
You’ll have 11.1-inches of ground clearance under the bed and can ford up to 30-inches of water before it becomes a problem. Heavy-duty Dana 44 axles are used front and rear as standard on all trim packages.
The Gladiator’s most off-road capable package is the Rubicon, with these models receiving Jeep’s Rock-Trac four-wheel-drive system with its 4:1 low range.
The Rubicon package comes bundled with electronic disconnecting sway bars, and front and rear lockers. The manual transmission will come with a crawl ratio of 84.2:1 with a 77.2:1 crawl ratio on the automatic. Rubicon models will also come with protective cab and bed rock rails as standard
The Sport and Overland models will come with a Command-Trac four-wheel-drive mode that includes a 2.72:1 low-range-ratio.
The former best-in-class for towing was the four-wheel-drive Chevrolet Colorado diesel, with up to 7,600 pounds of pull. The Gladiator Sport S model, with all the right options, has the new highest maximum tow-rating at 7,650 pounds.
One of the things that the Gladiator is missing, however, is a Tow/Haul mode with the automatic transmission, which would make things a little easier on the powertrain.
A Solid Addition
With the excellent off-road performance of the Rubicon model, the smooth and comfortable drive of the Overland and the sheer brute towing power of the Sport S, the Gladiator is a truck with the tools to do just about anything you want it to.
When you consider that you can strip the Gladiator back down almost to the chassis, that it comes backed with technology, and that most of the high-end performance is built right into the basic model, with other trims only adding bells and whistles, the new Jeep Gladiator isn’t just best in class, it’s in a class of its own.