2021 Jeep Gladiator vs. 2021 Ford Ranger: Which Pickup Is the Right Choice for You?

The pickup segment has added a number of new options over the last few years. Among them? The 2021 Jeep Gladiator and the 2021 Ford Ranger. But when it comes to comparing these two pickups, which makes for the better choice? Honestly, it all depends on what you’re looking for. 

2021 Jeep Gladiator driving through the mountains
2021 Jeep® Gladiator Rubicon | Jeep

What the 2021 Jeep Gladiator has going for it

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator has a few things going for it. First off, it’s a Jeep. That means you can assume it has some pretty decent off-road chops. Fortunately, that assessment isn’t too far off. According to Car and Driver, the 2021 Jeep Gladiator is basically always off-road ready.

Kelley Blue Book reports that the Jeep Gladiator is also the only pickup to offer open-air driving. It can be had with multiple tops, including a zipperless soft-top or a hard-top. Its aluminum doors are pretty lightweight too, making them fairly easy to remove if you want the full open-air experience.

This year’s model also comes equipped with your choice of engine under the hood. Though the Jeep Gladiator is standard with a 3.6-liter V6, it is available with a 3.0-liter diesel V6 engine. When equipped with this engine, the 2021 Jeep Gladiator can tow up to 6,500-pounds too, which is definitely nothing to scoff at.

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What the 2021 Ford Ranger has going for it

As for the 2021 Ford Ranger? It has plenty to offer as well. While the Jeep Gladiator comes equipped with a standard V6, the Ranger comes driven by a standard 2.3-liter EcoBoost I-4 engine. Unfortunately, however, that’s the only engine this year’s Ranger offers. 

While the 2021 Ford Ranger may not be available with a diesel engine, its standard engine is pretty fuel-efficient. According to the EPA, this year’s model was able to deliver an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Compare that to the Jeep Gladiator, which delivered an EPA-estimated 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, and the Ford Ranger is clearly the more fuel-efficient pick of these two pickup trucks.

Much like the 2021 Jeep Gladiator, the Ford Ranger also boasts some pretty impressive off-road chops. This year’s model is available with the Tremor Off-Road Package, which Ford says offers true all-terrain capability. Outfitted with this package, the Ranger rides on a lifted suspension, redesigned front knuckles, and 32-inch Continental General Grabber A/TX all-terrain tires. 

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There are upsides to choosing the 2021 Ford Ranger 

Unless you’re stuck on buying a pickup from Jeep, the 2021 Ford Ranger does make for a good option. While its standard engine can’t tow quite as much as the 2021 Gladiator’s, this year’s Ranger does offer a higher payload rating, which is what you should be looking for when shopping for a truck. And really, if you’re after a truck that offers a decent payload rating, why bother with the Gladiator when its max payload capacity is 1,700-pounds and the Ranger’s is 1,860-pounds?

The Ford Ranger also offers a lower base price. Opt for a base model Jeep Gladiator, and you can expect to spend at least $33,565. That’s a pretty hefty investment. As for the 2021 Ford Ranger? Ford hasn’t announced final pricing for 2021, but odds are it’ll be less expensive than the 2021 Gladiator. The 2020 Ford Ranger’s starting price sits well below the Gladiator’s, at $24,410.

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But there are reasons to choose the Jeep Gladiator too

The Jeep Gladiator is, well, a Jeep. It comes from a long line of off-road capable vehicles. It’s also available with a slew of aftermarket parts. And don’t forget that both its top and doors can come off. Lest you forget the 2021 Jeep Gladiator is the only pickup capable of such a feat. Not to mention, the community feel that comes with owning a Jeep. You know, things like the Jeep wave and entire community events geared toward celebrating the brand. 

But does all that make it a better choice than the Ford Ranger? Not necessarily. In the end, while there are some upsides to choosing the Ford Ranger over the 2021 Jeep Gladiator, there are plenty of reasons to choose this year’s Gladiator too. In the end, choosing between these two vehicles is going to take a test drive.