Over time, we’ve seen manufacturers come out with crazy automobiles but Jeep seems to have taken the cake. Last year, they gave us the outlandish Grand Cherokee Trackhawk that had a Supercharged 6.2-Liter Hellcat V8 pushing out a menacing 707bhp. This time, however, it’s something completely different. Upon the request the millions of fans, they have finally given the Wrangler a bed and they call it, the Gladiator.
Now when I said that they gave the Wrangler a bed, I wasn’t exaggerating a bit. It does look like Jeep, didn’t seem to do much with their new car despite them claiming that the Gladiator sits on a completely new platform. However, all is forgiven as the Gladiator is truly a sight to behold. Of all the trucks that it’s competing with, it seems to be the most capable both on and off road. Let’s see if it really is the case.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the Gladiator looks like a Wrangler with an elongated frame and a 5-ft bed at the rear. As much as it would disappoint Jeep fans on not getting an entirely new vehicle, it is a safe move by Jeep for not ending up with a controversial looking product. The design is familiar and time-tested for durability, practicality and even just for overall looks.
Having a Wrangler body also ensures that the Gladiator inherits some of the handy quirks that made people love it. They include having an option between a hard and soft top. Naturally, the soft-top is retractable which means you can turn your Gladiator into a convertible if you wish. However, this can also be done with the hard-top variant as well. The roof panels can be removed, like a Targa-top, so you can have a convertible pickup truck when you want.
It doesn’t end there, if you want to have an even more open-air experience, you can easily remove all the doors and fold the windshield like old-school military jeeps. The result is a completely transformed vehicle that may appeal to people who suffer from claustrophobia.
The Gladiator also gets the Wrangler’s incredible off-road capabilities. That includes best-in-class ground clearance especially in the Rubicon trim level, which is the top-of-the-line, most off-road-ready variant. Also in the Rubicon variant, you get FOX off-road rear shocks, similar to the ones found in Ford’s F150 Raptor.
Just like its exterior, the Jeep Gladiator shares most of its interior with the Wrangler. It may not be the plushest one out there but it’s built to last. Keeping in mind that this is an off-road vehicle which can completely open up to all the elements, Jeep has made sure each component can handle the punishment. The button placement is on point except for the window switches, which couldn’t be placed on the doors since they’re removable.
At the center, you get a 7-inch infotainment unit as standard, which can be upgraded to 8.4 inches. Both have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay built-in. The gauge cluster comes with a 3.5-inch screen as standard, which is ancient by today’s standards. Thankfully, you do have an option to bump it up to a 7-inch unit, which is the one to go for if you want maximum customizability.
Under the hood, the Gladiator gets the same 3.6-Liter Pentastar V6 as the Wrangler. It puts out 285 bhp and 260 lb-ft torques which may disappoint some people who expected Jeep to pull a TrackHawk on this. Needless to say, the current motor is adequate for what the Gladiator is intended for; towing and off-roading.
As of now, this is the only engine option on the Gladiator. However, in the models sold in 2020, Jeep will introduce a 3.0 EcoDiesel engine option. This engine will put out 260 bhp and an impressive 442 lb-ft torques that will give it the low-end grunt it needs to haul heavy stuff around.
As far as transmission is concerned, you get an option to either go with a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic in the petrol if you get the petrol variant. If you go for the diesel variant, the 8-speed auto will be standard. Although I am a big fan of manuals, I believe the 6-speed gearbox is a useless option as it doesn’t go well with off-roading and hauling heavy payloads. Besides, the majority of the buyers will go to the automatic anyway.
There are 4 trim levels for the Gladiator; Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon. Their base prices are $33,545, $36,745, $40,395 and $43,545 respectively. A well equipped Rubicon trim can cost over $61,000, which may be a bit too much for a pickup truck that’s not even full-sized. However, compared to the competition, it is aptly priced. If you count features and capabilities, then the Gladiator may be the best value.