Undoubtedly, Jeep’s Gladiator is the most rugged midsize truck on the market today. No other model even comes close to matching this rig’s off-road capability. That’s because no other pickup is based on the legendary Jeep Wrangler.
While this truck looks like little more than the abovementioned off-roader with a bed welded onto the back, significant amounts of engineering were required to create the Gladiator. For starters, its frame is new, stretched 31 inches (79 centimeters) to accommodate the cargo box. In keeping with that increase, its wheelbase has been elongated by a commensurate 19.4 inches (49 centimeters). The rear suspension is also new, sharing components with the smooth-riding Ram 1500.
As for this pickup’s business end, it measures five feet in length (152 centimeters) and is made of steel. Of course, the bed in question is fitted with numerous tie-down points and can optionally equipped with under-rail lighting, an ultra-durable spray-in liner and even a 110-volt, three-prong power outlet.
The Gladiator’s tailgate is made of lightweight aluminum and is nicely damped so it doesn’t slam down when opened. It can also support up to 1,800 pounds (816 kilograms) and be set in a mid-position between fully open and closed, which is handy for hauling long items including four-by-eight sheets of building material, which slide right in on top the fender wells.
This is a vehicle the Jeep faithful have been praying to receive for literally decades. The last pickup this brand offered was called the Comanche and it went out of production in 1992, though it was hardly the only one they built. Jeep has a rich truck-making history, one that stretches all the way back to the 1940s.
Just like Jeep’s iconic Wrangler, the Gladiator pickup is built in Toledo, Ohio.
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Pros/ Slightly more refined than a Jeep Wrangler, Incredible off-road capability, Smooth-running V6 engine, Pickup-truck versatility, Nicely trimmed interior
Cons/ Not as maneuverable as a Wrangler, Diesel engine not yet available, On-road ride quality, It’s not cheap
Bottom Line/ The Jeep Wrangler is a unique offering in the compact pickup segment — with its off-road capability, rugged looks and ability to take off the doors and roof, it will find many loyal fans.
Table of contents
Jeep Gladiator Specs
Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6 (available in 2020)
Estimated Horsepower: 260
Estimated Torque: 442
Drivetrain: Standard Command-Trac 4×4 system, optional Rock-Track 4×4 system with 4-to-1 low-range gearing
Transmission: Six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic (diesel will only be offered with the automatic)
Seating Capacity: 5
Cargo Box Volume: 35.5 cubic feet (1,005 liters)
*Maximum Towing Capacity: 7,650 pounds (3,470 kilograms)
*Maximum Payload Capacity: 1,600 pounds (726 kilograms)
*When properly equipped
Jeep Gladiator Fuel Economy
When it comes to fuel economy, the Gladiator is rated at 16 miles per gallon city, 23 highway, and 19 mpg combined when equipped with the gasoline V6 and manual transmission. Models fitted with the available eight-speed automatic are rated at 17 city, 22 highway, and 19 combined. Efficiency figures for the diesel engine have not been released yet, nor are any consumption ratings available for Canadian customers at this time.
These fuel economy figures compare favorably to a four-wheel-drive version of the Chevrolet Colorado fitted with a V6 engine and a similarly equipped Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. The former truck stickers at 17, 24 and 19 mpg, the latter 18, 22 and 20 mpg, respectively.
About the only comparable midsize truck that has any significant fuel-economy advantage is the Ford Ranger. Fitted with four-wheel drive they sticker at 20 miles per gallon in the city, 24 on highway drives and 22 mpg combined.
Jeep Gladiator Safety Ratings
The Jeep Gladiator has not yet been evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), neither has the latest-generation Wrangler on which it’s based, however, the Wrangler has been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The four-door version received four stars out of a possible five for both the front driver and passenger sides. NHTSA testing is less stringent than ones performed by IIHS.
We’ll update this post when the IIHS evaluates the Gladiator.
Jeep Gladiator Features
The Gladiator comes with plenty of standard equipment, more than you might expect in a rough-and-tumble Jeep. For starters, most versions are fitted with a Command-Trac four-by-four system that includes a two-speed transfer case with 2.72-to-1 low-range gearing.
But off-road fanatics will certainly want a Rubicon model. They feature an even more advanced Rock-Trac four-by-four system with a 4-to-1 crawl ratio, standard front and rear locking differentials with 4.10 axle ratios, 33-inch tires and Fox monotube shock absorbers. Beyond all that, Gladiator Rubicons are also graced with a heavy-duty steel rear bumper and can be optionally fitted with a winch-ready steel front bumper. For even greater suspension articulation, a disconnecting front sway bar is included.
As for capability, the Gladiator features up to 11.1 inches (28 centimeters) of terrain-defying ground clearance and can drive through water up to 30 inches (76 centimeters) deep. Its approach, breakover and departure angles are likewise impressive, measuring 43.6, 20.3 and 26 degrees, respectively.
When properly equipped, the Gladiator can tow up to 7,650 pounds (3,470 kilograms). Its payload rating clocks in at a respectable 1,600 pounds (726 kilograms). Both figures make it one of the most capable pickups in the midsize segment.
As with the Wrangler, this truck’s hood and doors are made of aluminum to help reduce weight. Naturally, those doors are also removable, for maximum freedom while out on the trail.
Compared to a Wrangler, the Gladiator is missing one important design element: a rear-mounted spare tire. Since it has a truck tailgate in lieu of a swing-gate, the spare had to be relocated. Just like other pickups, it’s mounted under the bed.
The Gladiator is an automotive mountain goat but that doesn’t mean it isn’t comfortable or well-trimmed inside. Passengers are treated to an unexpectedly rich cabin, one constructed of upscale plastics and, depending on model, plenty of soft materials embellished with contrast-color stitching. It’s essentially identical to what comes in the latest-generation Wrangler, with is unquestionably the best interior ever offered in that vehicle.
Sport models come with a standard 5-inch touchscreen. Optionally, infotainment systems with either a 7- or 8.4-inch display are available. Support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is included at no extra cost.
Nestled within the instrument cluster is a standard 3.5-inch information screen, though higher-end models are fitted with a fully reconfigurable one measuring 7 inches.
Better cutting through darkness, top shelf Overland and Rubicon versions of the Gladiator can be had with optional LED headlamps and fog lights.
Naturally, this truck can be fitted with an array of driver-assistance technologies. Things like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a back-up camera with dynamic gridlines and adaptive cruise control are all available.
One stand-out bit of assistance tech is the Gladiator’s available forward-facing off-road camera. Mounted on the very front of the vehicle, it looks ahead, giving the driver an unobstructed view of the terrain ahead. This is particularly useful when climbing or descending steep hills, situations where the vehicle is at an angle and you can’t see what’s directly in front.
Interestingly, every version of the Gladiator is a convertible, making it the perfect choice for pickup customers that also want an open-air driving experience. Removable hardtop sections are standard, but you can also get a retracting fabric roof for greater convenience.
Jeep Gladiator Pricing
For all its myriad benefits, the Gladiator has something of an Achilles’ heel. It’s simply more expensive than comparable rivals. Grab a frill-free entry-level Sport model and you’ll be spending around $35,040, including $1,495 in delivery fees. In comparison, a most-basic four-wheel-drive Ranger XL starts at less than $30,000, including destination fees. Pricewise, the cheapest Colorado or Tacoma with four-wheel drive is all over the Ford like gravy on mashed potatoes.
Go all-in on a top-shelf Rubicon version, check every available options box, and you can push the price tag beyond $63,000. Clearly, Gladiator is not one of the more affordable midsize pickup trucks available, but it is the most capable and unquestionably more unique than any of its competitors.
Jeep Gladiator Warranty
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
Roadside Assistance: 5 years/100,000 miles
Rust-Through Warranty: 5 years/100,000 miles
Jeep Gladiator Competitors
The Jeep Gladiator competes with a range of other midsize trucks. This field includes the Ford Ranger, the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier and Chevrolet Colorado as well as its corporate sister, the GMC Canyon. To a lesser degree you could also consider the Honda Ridgeline a rival to the Gladiator, however, none of these competing pickups can do what this Jeep can off road. About the only one that comes close is the Colorado ZR2 Bison, which also features loads of fancy equipment that transform it into a mountain-climbing beast.
Jeep Gladiator Future Plans
This vehicle is brand new for the 2020 model year, so there won’t be any big changes for a while. Other than the availability of a diesel engine, which will be released in 2020 (though FCA has not confirmed if that will be model year or calendar year), it’s unlikely the Gladiator will gain any significant changes for at least the next few years, though Jeep may make a few minor tweaks or add new features in the near term. Jeep might also offer the same mild hybrid setup available in the Wrangler, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
2020 Jeep Gladiator Review
By Craig Cole
The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is one of the most highly anticipated vehicles to launch in years.
It melds the off-road capability of a four-door Wrangler with the versatility of a midsize pickup truck. Now you can do some hardcore rock crawling while carrying a load of friends and all their gear. Really, this product is a no-brainer; it’s a better combination than chocolate and peanut butter.
People have been clamoring for Jeep to build a pickup ever since their last offering, the Comanche, was discontinued in 1992. Even though this legendary automotive brand has been out of the game for nearly 30 years, Gladiator is the latest in a long line of Jeep trucks reaching all the way back to the ‘40s.
More Than Just a Wrangler with a Bed
Even though this rig is essentially a Wrangler with a bed, engineers did far more than just tack weld a cargo box on the back and call it a day. In fact, the vehicle’s frame, its very foundation is all new. This critical component had to be reworked to meet the towing and hauling requirements of the midsize-truck segment.
Compared to a Wrangler Unlimited, the new Jeep Gladiator is nearly 30 inches (75.2 cm) longer, clocking in at 218 (553.7 cm) from bumper to bumper. Accordingly, the wheelbase has been stretched significantly, spanning an extra 19.4 inches (49.3 cm), totaling 137.3 (348.7 cm).
As for the Gladiator’s all-important bed, it measures five feet and is made of steel. Of course, it’s fitted with various tie-downs but can also be equipped with a spray-in liner for maximum durability, under-rail lighting and even a three-prong power outlet.
Not to be outdone, the tailgate even has a few tricks up its proverbial sleeve. Made of aluminum, it’s nicely damped so it doesn’t slam down when opened. It supports up to 1,800 pounds (816.5 kg) on its own and can be locked in a mid-position between closed and fully open. This allows you to haul four-by-eight sheets of building material. They slide right into the bed over the wheel wells and are also supported by the tailgate.
While at the Gladiator’s rear, you’re sure to notice something missing. The Wrangler’s iconic swing gate-mounted spare tire has been relocated underneath the bed, behind the rear axle, just like on other pickups. In addition to the requisite skid plates, Rubicon models are also fitted with rock rails to protect the cab and bed from damage while trail-bashing. They can support up to one-third of the vehicle’s overall weight.
Towing and Hauling Capability
Tape-measure dimensions aside, the Gladiator also compares very favorably to its major rivals in towing and hauling capability. Properly equipped, it can carry up to 1,600 pounds and when fitted with the appropriate towing package it’s rated to drag a maximum of 7,650 pounds.
Checking out competing models’ capability reveals the Gladiator is at a slight disadvantage. A SuperCab four-by-two Ranger can haul up to 1,860 pounds. All versions of this Ford are rated to tow a maximum of 7,500. The Colorado tops out at 1,566 pounds of payload and can tow up to 7,700 pounds when powered by the available diesel engine. The best a Tacoma can do is 1,620 and 6,800, respectively.
Of course, this Jeep is still impressively capable, especially since it’s the only one of this bunch that comes with standard four-wheel drive. Bringing loads to a safe, secure stop, the Gladiator should also have the largest brakes in its segment.
Yep, it’s Trail Rated
When it comes to off-roading, the Gladiator is every bit as capable as the Wrangler on which it’s based. Sport, Overland and Rubicon models receive the famed Trail Rated badge, meaning they can go just about anywhere.
Ground clearance exceeds 11 inches (28.2 cm), something that helps this truck drive through up to 30 inches (76.2 cm) of water. As a visual, that comes up to approximately the bottom of the grille, which, coincidentally, has larger slots to enable better cooling for enhanced towing and payload ratings. To keep ‘em dry while fording rivers, the Gladiator’s electronics are mounted up high, plus the interior carpeting is removable should water ever sneak into the cab you can easily air it out.
Naturally, Jeep put together an off-road course for us to test this truck’s capability. The trail was muddy, strewn with jagged boulders and had plenty of elevation changes. Range-topping Rubicon models were on hand for driving here, and they proved more than up to the challenge.
Exercising this truck’s low-range gearing, disconnecting front stabilizer bar and, scarily, its front skid plate on more than a few occasions revealed there’s little the Gladiator can’t handle. From steep hills to sloppy two-tracks, off-camber corners to rocky surfaces, it’s simply amazing what a properly equipped Gladiator can tackle off-road.
SEE ALSO: 2019 Ford Ranger Review – VIDEO
Two different four-wheel-drive systems are offered. Command-Trac is the base version. It features a two-speed transfer case and is offered in Sport and Overland trims. The much more capable Rock-Trac system is standard on Rubicon models. It includes locking differentials, a 4-to-1 crawl ratio and even a disconnecting front sway bar for greater suspension articulation.
Standard with the automatic transmission is Selec-Speed Control, which is like cruise control for off-road driving. It can be engaged when the transfer case is in low range. Uphill or down, it enables the vehicle to manage its own speed, which can be set anywhere between 1 and 5 miles an hour.
If there’s a downside to trail-bashing in this truck, it’s length, the very thing that makes it so versatile. Given that it’s much longer than even a four-door Wrangler Unlimited, the Gladiator could be more challenging to maneuver in tight off-road situations.
Still, in the dirt, this is almost certainly the most capable midsize pickup available, though Colorado ZR2 Bison might give it a run for its money. Ditto for the Ranger Raptor, should Ford ever decide to sell it in North America.
Like the Wrangler JL, Gladiator is unexpectedly refined on road. At least in Overland trim, the version tested on road here, is quiet and spacious, plus it feels like Jeep designers put tons of thought and energy into crafting the interior. All the hard plastics are upscale, there’s plenty of soft stuff and even the screws around the climate controls are real.
The Gladiator also offers best-in-class rear-seat legroom so everyone can ride in comfort. For added versatility, there’s secure storage behind the seat backs, which also fold flat. Beyond that, the seat cushions flip up revealing another generously sized storage area.
One nice touch is the so-called “bolt bin,” a storage cubby for all the stray fasteners when you take doors off or fold the windshield down. The lid even has special graphics showing you where each piece goes on the vehicle, a clever addition.
Two engines will be offered in the Gladiator, along with a pair of transmissions. The standard powerplant is a friendly and familiar 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. Smooth running and snarly under heavy throttle, it’s rated at 285 horses and 260 pound-feet of torque.
At some point in 2020 (it’s unclear if that will be model year or calendar year), a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 will join the range. It’s expected to deliver 260 ponies with 442 pound-feet. It will come bolted exclusively to an eight-speed automatic transmission. For drivers that can handle three pedals, a six-speed manual gearbox is also offered with the gasoline engine.
Undoubtedly, thanks to that efficient automatic transmission the Pentastar V6 provides rapid acceleration. This drivetrain is refined and willing, changing gears smoothly and downshifting readily; it’s also reasonably efficient. Expect 17 miles per gallon city, 22 highway and 19 combined. Opt for the manual and you should get 16, 23 and 19, respectively. These figures are very comparable to six-cylinder versions of the Colorado and Tacoma, though they’re a little less than what the EPA says a four-by-four Ranger should deliver. They sticker at 20 city, 24 highway and 22 combined, though whether they’re that economical in real-world driving is questionable.
If there’s any weakness to the Gladiator’s on-road performance, it’s likely ride quality. Yes, it’s remarkably refined considering the outrageous capability, and the fact that it has live axles front and rear, but it still bounces and jiggles a bit on irregular pavement. This is a bit surprising considering it shares a number of rear-suspension components with the Ram 1500, the best-riding full-size truck available today.
You’d think the Gladiator would feel noticeably smoother than the Wrangler, courtesy of its elongated wheelbase, but it’s difficult to say for certain without driving them back to back.
The Verdict: 2020 Jeep Gladiator Review
You can call the Gladiator a midsize pickup, but it’s kind of in a segment all its own. In everyday use, it is less refined and comfortable than a Colorado or Ranger, but it does things neither of those rivals can. If you want a smaller truck with on-road civility or mountain-goat capability you’ve now got a choice.
A base Sport model starts at $35,040 while the Sport S version goes for $38,240. Opt for the Overland trim and plan on spending $41,890. A top-of-the-line Rubicon version kicks off at $44,949. All these prices include $1,495 in delivery fees.
|Engine /||3.6-liter V6|
|Transmission /||6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic (diesel will only be offered with the automatic)|
|Drivetrain /||Standard 4x4|
|Seating Capacity /||5|
|Cargo-Box Volume /||35.5 cubic feet (1,005 L)|
|Maximum Towing Capacity /||7,650 lbs (3,470 kg)*|
|Maximum Payload Capacity /||1,600 lbs (726 kg)*|
|/||*When properly equipped|
Our Final Verdict
The Jeep Gladiator is a truly unique offering in the compact pickup truck segment. Although there are other trucks available, none of them are as capable off-road as the Gladiator and none of them offer the ability to take off the doors and roof or flip the windshield down so drivers can get closer to nature and have better sightlines while off-roading. The Gladiator takes all the things people love about the rugged and iconic Jeep Wrangler and adds the versatility and utility of an open truck bed.4.5