2020 Jeep Gladiator - Ready for war
Gladiator, not Scrambler, is the name of the Wrangler based pickup that brings Jeep back into the fiercely competitive segment of recreational trucks.
Jeep is all too familiar with sending vehicles to war, but compared to its nineteen forties forbear the new Gladiator will end up on a completely different battlefield. Competition in the expanding midsize truck segment is hostile and Jeep made sure to come armed to the teeth.
With a towing capacity of 7,650 pounds the Gladiator trumps the Toyota Tacoma and comes very close to the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon diesel. At launch Jeep only offers the familiar 3.6 V-6 with 285 horsepower. A 3.0 diesel will be available in 2020, offering slightly less towing capacity due to cooling capacity, even though it has a higher torque rating of 442 pound-feet.
Like the Wrangler JL, the Gladiator can be ordered with either a six-speed manual transmission or an 8-speed automatic, but the JL's optional 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo will not be offered. The Command-Trac and Rock-Trac 4x4 systems are both available with the latter being standard on the Rubicon, containing a 4:1 low range transfer case, Dana 44 axles with electronic front- and rear-axle lockers, front sway-bar disconnect and 33-inch off-road tires. Even though the Gladiator retained the solid axles from the Wrangler, the rear suspension has been changed to a five-link design with forward-facing shocks to prevent so called bed shake. No other pickup in this segment offers such an extensive array of off-road weaponry. The only truck that can actually go toe-to-toe with the Gladiator on that level is the gargantuan and much more expensive Ram Power Wagon.
Jeep also has the competition beat when it comes to driving open. The folding soft top works the same way as it does on the Wrangler and the hardtop comes with the two removable roof panels. Even the doors come off easily and the windshield folds down like on the Wrangler. It took Jeep ages to finally return to the truck segment, after tormenting fans with numerous (Wrangler based) concept vehicles like the 2005 Gladiator Concept, the 2010 Nukizer 715 Concept, the 2012 J-12 Concept and the 2016 Crew Chief 715 Concept.
Only one size
Jeep will offer the Gladiator in four trim levels: Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon which means countless variations to choose from, like hard or soft top, black or painted fenders, practical or hard-core off-road and of-course automatic or manual. The Gladiator comes in only one size though, a four-door with a five-foot bed which makes it over four feet longer than a two-door Wrangler..
Production of the Gladiator starts in early 2019 in the Toledo factory where the Wrangler JL rolls off the line since November 2017 and where Jeep has been producing vehicles since World War 2. Pricing has not been announced yet, but expect a 3,000 to 5,000 dollar premium over comparable Wrangler Unlimited models.
© Words Natan Tazelaar