2020 Jeep Gladiator – The Wrangler pickup
Trucks are the in-thing these days, there’s no doubt about it. And with the truck market being so big, it is starting to spawn off little markets in itself. One of those being the rugged off-road market. We’re not just taking about trucks that can go off-road, we’re talking about trucks that offer the ultimate in off-road capability, like the Ford Raptor, Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. But now, if we take a step back and ask – who makes one of the best off-road vehicles, well that’s a no-brainer, it’s Jeep with it’s Wrangler. So it would seem fitting for Jeep to add its two-cents into this new ultimate off-road truck market. And it has, in the way of the Gladiator.
One can best think of the new 2020 Jeep Gladiator as a Jeep Wrangler with a 5-foot cargo bed in place of its normal rear cargo area. To be more specific, the Gladiator is a four-door Wrangler Unlimited with a longer wheelbase. This isn’t the first time Jeep has built some sort of Jeep-truck. Flashback nearly 30 years and you might recall the Scrambler.
Jeep will offer this all-new model in five different trim levels. The base Sport is bare bones with steel wheels, 5-inch central display and crank windows. Post-Millennials probably have never seen crank windows, so they may want to look at the Sport S which adds power windows and door locks along with 17-inch alloy wheels. The Overland model dresses the Gladiator up in 18-inch wheels, LED lighting and a 7-inch infotainment system. Serious about off-roading? The Rubicon trim provides the Gladiator with many off-road goodies such as locking front and rear differentials, an electronically disconnectable front stabilizer bar, Fox shock absorbers, and body-protecting rock rails and skid plates. Finally, there is the Mojave. It’s also meant for off-roading, but takes aim at desert-running. It gives up the Rubicon’s locking front differential and disconnecting sway bar, but gains a transfer case that allows for low-range use at higher speeds. The suspension and frame has also been modified and becomes the first Jeep to wear a Desert Rated badge.
And just like the Wrangler, the Gladiator comes with a soft top that can be removed for open-air driving, with a hard top available as an option. And yes – the doors can be removed.
Currently the only engine available in the Gladiator is the 3.6 liter V6 making 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque routed through a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional eight-speed automatic. Jeep will eventually offer a diesel 3.0-liter V-6 that develops 260 horses and an impressive 442 lb-ft of torque, but we will have to wait until 2021. Like the Wrangler, every Gladiator is four-wheel drive.
The Gladiator that Jeep had me in recently was a Firecracker Red Mojave model. Decked out with plenty of features including the larger infotainment center screen, the 3-piece hardtop, adaptive cruise control, and a roll up toneau cover, it came with a $58,860 MSRP. The Mojave, starts at $43,875. If you just want to get into a base Gladiator, prices start at just under $33,600.
Those familiar with the Wrangler’s interior will feel right at home in the Gladiator. The upright dashboard, window controls in the center and padded roll over bars are all present in the Gladiator. Being it’s a Jeep, the controls are easy to use and within reach. The cloth seats in the test vehicle are fitting for this type of vehicle, but leather seating surfaces are available.
Of course, the main thing about the Gladiator is that it’s got a decent size bed that allows you to toss things into. But the Gladiator can also tow. When equipped with the Max Tow Package (which includes a 4.10 Axle Ratio with the automatic transmission), the Gladiator can tow up to 7650 pounds. That’s a good size boat.
In my time with the Gladiator Mojave, I had an opportunity to experience it in different environments. On the interstate, it was noisy – although not as bad as some Jeeps of past. In town drive, it’s easy to maneuver and park. Not surprisingly, where the Gladiator felt most at home was at the beach. Sand dunes, mud pits, trenches, you name the Gladiator went through it like a knife to butter. An added bonus was the fun it was to drive in those environments.
For the off-road pick-up truck junkie, the Gladiator seems to check all the boxes. Capable off-road? Check. Good size pickup bed? Check. Able to tow? Check. Throw in the feature that you can drop its top, and not only does the Gladiator sound good – it stands apart from the rest.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave 4×4
Base Price: $43,875.00
Price as Tested: $58,860.00
Layout: front-engine / four-wheel drive
Engine: 3.6 liter V6
Transmission: 8 – speed automatic
Horsepower: 360 hp
Torque: 390 ft/lb
EPA Fuel Economy: 17 city / 22 highway mpg
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