One of a Kind: Jeep Gladiator Receives Changes for 2021
Now in its second model year, the only convertible pickup truck on the market gets some updates for the new model year.
It's hard to believe that it's been nearly two years since Jeep introduced the Wrangler JL-based Gladiator (which is known as the "JT"), its first (factory-produced) pickup truck in nearly three decades. While the Jeep Gladiator is currently the only convertible pickup truck on the market, Ford has its eyes on the Gladiator, and is looking to launch a convertible version of its 4-Door Bronco in the next few years. Jeep, looking to offer buyers even more reasons to buy a Gladiator, has introduced changes for its midsize convertible pickup truck for the 2021 model year. Read on to find out more about the changes that are in store for the 2021 Jeep Gladiator. NOTE: Any and all pricing includes a mandatory destination fee, but does NOT include any applicable taxes or other fees.
First, there are two new trim levels available for the 2021 Jeep Gladiator: Willys Sport and Willys. While both models add unique seventeen-inch (17") black-finished aluminum-alloy wheels, a black-painted front grille, 'WILLYS' decals on both sides of the hood, and a retro-inspired 'Four Wheel Drive' decal on the rear tailgate, the Willys Sport (starting at $35,490) is based on the "Base" Sport model, while the Willys (starting at $39,240) is based on the more well-equipped Sport "S" trim level of the Gladiator. Speaking of trim levels, both the Sport "S"-based Altitude and the Overland-based North Edition have been discontinued for the 2021 model year. Base Sport, mid-level Sport "S", luxury-oriented Overland, off-road equipped Rubicon, "Desert Rated" Mojave, and range-topping (and Overland-based) High Altitude all continue for the 2021 model year.
For 2021, the mid-level Sport "S" trim now receives body-colored front and rear fender flares as standard equipment, replacing the previously-standard black units. This means that the Body-Color Fender Flares and All-Terrain Tires Group is no longer available, and the all-terrain tires that were previously contained in that package are now a standalone option on the Sport "S". Sport "S" buyers can now opt for the 8.4-Inch Radio and Premium Audio Group ($1,995), which adds the U Connect 4C 8.4 touchscreen infotainment system with GPS navigation, SiriusXM Travel Link with a five-year paid trial subscription, SiriusXM Guardian with a one-year paid trial subscription, and a nine-speaker, Alpine premium audio system with amplifier and subwoofer. Speaking of infotainment, the Sport "S" trim also now includes the previously-optional Technology Group (a $695 value), which includes the previously-optional U Connect 4 7.0 touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, SiriusXM Satellite Radio with a one-year paid trial subscription, and a full-color, seven-inch (7.0") reconfigurable Thin-Film Transistor (TFT) LCD instrument cluster display screen. All models except for the Base Sport and Willys Sport models receive a new Selectable Tire Fill Alert (STFA) system that sounds the vehicle's horn and flashes the vehicle's lights in order to indicate that the proper tire pressure has been reached. Models equipped with the 8.4-inch (8.4") touchscreen infotainment system now have the option of a Front-Facing Trail Cam (which was previously only available on Rubicon and Mojave models).
In addition to all of the additional standard equipment on lower trim levels of the Jeep Gladiator for 2021, all models (yes, even the off-road capable Rubicon and "Desert Rated" Mojave trims) offer the Selec-Trac Full-Time Four-Wheel-Drive (4X4) System as an option (the System was previously only available on the luxury-oriented Overland trim). There is also a new exterior paint color for the 2021 model year: Snazzberry Pearl Coat Metallic (Metallic Dark Red), while three previously-available exterior paint color options, Punk'n Metallic (Metallic Orange), Gator Clear Coat (Gloss Grayish-Green), and Gobi Clear Coat (Gloss Light Beige) have been discontinued this year. The remaining exterior paint color options from the 2020 Gladiator include Black Clear Coat (Gloss Black), Granite Crystal Pearl Coat Metallic (Metallic Dark Gray), Sting-Gray Clear Coat (Gloss Light Gray), Billet Silver Metallic (Metallic Silver), Hydro Blue Pearl Coat Metallic (Metallic Bright Blue), Firecracker Red Clear Coat (Metallic Bright Red), and Bright White Clear Coat (Gloss White). All exterior paint colors cost an additional $295, except for Bright White Clear Coat (Gloss White), which comes free of charge. Interior color options include Black (Monotone Black), Black/Heritage Tan (Two-Tone Black and Light Beige, unique to cloth and premium cloth seating surfaces), Black/Gray (Two-Tone Black and Light Gray, unique to the "Desert Rated" Mojave trim when equipped with luxury leather-trimmed seating surfaces), and Black/Dark Saddle (Two-Tone Black and Dark Tan, unique to luxury leather-trimmed seating surfaces). A cloth interior comes standard on Sport, Willys Sport, Sport "S", and Willys models, while Overland, Rubicon, and Mojave models feature upgraded premium cloth seating surfaces that are embossed with a model-specific logo. The range-topping High Altitude model is the only Gladiator that comes standard with luxury leather-trimmed seating surfaces, although the upper trim levels (aka Overland, Rubicon, and Mojave) also offer them as an additional-cost option.
Perhaps the most welcome addition to the 2021 Jeep Gladiator is the introduction of the Wrangler Unlimited JL's 3.0L EcoDiesel Turbocharged V6 engine that produces 250 horsepower and 442 lb. ft. of torque, and offers a maximum towing capacity of up to 7,000 lbs, his engine is available on every 2021 Jeep Gladiator model (except for the "Desert Rated" Mojave trim, which requires the gasoline V6 for its improved "Desert-Rated" capabilities). The EcoDiesel powertrain must be paired with the eight-speed automatic transmission (known as the "8HP75"). While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn't yet rated the EcoDiesel-equipped Gladiator's fuel economy, the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited EcoDiesel gets Miles Per Gallon (MPG) ratings of 22/29/25 (City/Highway/Combined, respectively), and the Gladiator should achieve similar fuel economy ratings to the Wrangler Unlimited. The EPA-rated fuel economy ratings for the gasoline-powered Gladiator are 17/22/19 (City/Highway/Combined, respectively) when equipped with the ZF-derived 850RE eight-speed automatic transmission, so the EcoDiesel powertrain should be an improvement.
Despite all of the improvements over the 2020 model it replaces, one thing that the 2021 Jeep Gladiator doesn't see is an increase in the starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), as the 2021 Jeep Gladiator starts at the same $33,545 as its 2020 predecessor. However, that price increases rapidly as additional options and packages are selected. A range-topping 2021 Jeep Gladiator High Altitude Edition, without any additional options or package, sells for $51,745. A fully-equipped "Desert Rated" 2021 Jeep Gladiator Mojave can easily climb to well over $60k, which may seem like a lot of money to spend on a midsize pickup truck, but you get the off-road abilities that other midsize pickups in its class lack, so it's definitely worth the money. All Jeep Gladiator models come standard with the 3.6L Pentastar V6 gasoline engine with Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and Electronic Stop-Star (ESS), which produces an excellent 285 horsepower and 260 lb. ft. of torque. That engine is mated to the Chrysler-produced NSG370 six-speed manual transmission on all models except for the range-topping High Altitude trim, which includes the ZF-derived 850RE 8-speed automatic transmission that's optional on all other Gladiator models. The 3.0L EcoDiesel Turbocharged Diesel V6 engine, producing 250 horsepower and 442 lb. ft. of torque and mated exclusively to the ZF-produced 8HP75 eight-speed automatic transmission, is available on all Gladiator trims except for the "Desert-Rated" Mojave. Jeep produces the Gladiator in Toledo, Ohio, where it also produces the Jeep Wrangler JL and Wrangler Unlimited JL. The 2021 Jeep Gladiator should reach Jeep dealerships nationwide this month, and is available for ordering right now. What do you think of all of the changes being made to the 2021 Jeep Gladiator? Let us know in the comments down below, and stay tuned right here for more information as it becomes available!