Trucks & SUVs

2021 Jeep Gladiator Willys Edition Debuts – Still Worse Than a Ford Ranger

When the Jeep Gladiator was launched, it saw brisk sales. Since then, sales have dipped a bit. So, Jeep is injecting a little more attention into the Gladiator line with a new special edition. The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Willys Edition will be available with the Sport and Sport S trim levels. It is the first time the Willys package has been made available on a Gladiator. At best, the truck is still mediocre.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Willys

A Sting Gray 2021 Jeep Gladiator Willys in the middle of a road with a mountain backdrop
2021 Jeep Gladiator Willys | FCA

The Willys edition of the Gladiator will differentiate itself from the rest of the lineup with cab rock rails, 32-inch mud-terrain tires, black 17-inch wheels, special decals, all-weather slush mats, and a black sport grille. According to the press release, these special editions will be available at a starting MSRP of $35,265 and in, “Black, Granite Crystal, Sting Gray, Billet, Firecracker Red, White, Hydro Blue and Snazzberry.”

Jeep enthusiasts waited long for the return of a pickup to the lineup. The Gladiator has filled that void on a platform similar to the already beloved and legendary Wrangler. So, in theory, the Gladiator would seem to be a win-win situation. Jeep gets a win from introducing a pickup. The die-hard, enthusiast, faithful get a win from their long wait for a pickup’s return. But, is it the right pickup for Jeep?

The Jeep Gladiator pickup falls short

A comparistion of pickup trucks by Consumer Reports
Jeep Gladiator comparison by Consumer Reports | via ConsumerReports.org

Consumer Reports, an agency that reviews products, has an interesting function on their website, which permits consumers to compare like items. Of course, in this case, a comparison of the Gladiator against other compact pickups makes sense. Sadly, the Jeep faithful may be saddened to see that the Gladiator is only mediocre in comparison to other tested trucks. The overall rating for the truck is 46 and the pickup ranked 4th out of 7 tested.

The “Recommended” pick by Consumer Reports for compact pickups with a ladder frame goes to the Ford Ranger. It came in with an overall rating of 65. Interestingly, the Honda Ridgeline pickup, a unibody structure vehicle, came in with the highest rating at 76. It also snagged a “Recommended” label.

Some people buy this pickup simply because it is a Jeep

The Jeep Gladiator is one step ahead of the pack, however. The legendary legacy of the Wrangler is on its face. So, people still equate the pickup to the World War II hero vehicle. That attracts a lot of people. For those, that draw will trump anything else because they are going to buy a Jeep pickup simply because it is a Jeep.

RELATED: The Biggest 2020 Jeep Gladiator Concerns After 6 Months

There are others, however, who might look at the Jeep Gladiator and admire the face. But, then they will look at comparisons with other pickups, such as those by Consumer Reports to help make a purchase decision. For those, the Ford Ranger, or even the Honda Ridgeline might be more attractive.

There are indeed other pickups that rate higher in Consumer Reports reviews. But, only the Jeep Gladiator can pull off a Willys package. After all, a rugged appearing and off-road capable pickup that harkens back to its military workhorse days can only be pulled off by a Jeep.