2021 Jeep Wrangler vs. Jeep Gladiator – Do You Need a Pickup?

People throw shade at the Jeep Gladiator for its unconventional looks. But since the Gladiator performs similarly to the legendary Jeep Wrangler, it’s worth a look if you want an adventurous Jeep. While the 2021 Jeep Gladiator and the 2021 Jeep Wrangler offer comparable experiences, how would you choose between the two?

Driving the 2021 Jeep Wrangler vs. the 2021 Jeep Gladiator 

2021 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
2021 Jeep Wrangler Sahara | FCA USA

The Wrangler and the Gladiator share the same platform, so they exhibit the same driving dynamics. Both Jeeps are performance-oriented models suited for serious off-roading adventures. That said, they aren’t as impressive on paved roads because of their stiffer ride quality.

Base Wrangler and Gladiator models are powered by a 285-hp, 3.6-liter V6. Furthermore, both are available with either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. The base models are ideal for everyday rides, but there are some distinctions to consider. 

2021 Jeep Gladiator towing an RV
2021 Jeep Gladiator | Jeep

For instance, the base engine on the Wrangler is slightly more efficient; it has an EPA rating of up to 23 mpg overall. The Gladiator has a rating of a combined 19 mpg. What’s new for 2021 is that the Gladiator is now available with a more eco-friendly 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 that produces 260-hp. 

This turbodiesel is also optional for the Wrangler. Additionally, the Wrangler features a lively turbocharged, 270-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. But the most remarkable update for the 2021 Wrangler is that it will also be available as a rugged hybrid. 

Another thing to consider here is that the Gladiator is significantly longer than the Wrangler because of its truck bed, so it’s not easy to park. You will appreciate the Gladiator if you care about towing, though. The pickup can haul 7,650 pounds when properly equipped. The Wrangler can only tow up to 3,500 pounds. 

How do the Jeeps compare on the inside?

2020 Jeep Wrangler JPP20 interior seats
2020 Jeep Wrangler JPP20 interior seats | FCA

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The Wrangler and the Gladiator have handsome-looking cabins. In its two-door setup, the Wrangler has four seats; models with four doors have seats for five. The Gladiator only features one body style and can comfortably accommodate five. Cloth upholstery is standard, but you can add on amenities such as leather and heated front-row. 

A 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon front passenger seats and center console
Jeep Gladiator interior | Jeep

Unfortunately, these Jeeps don’t come with a long list of in-car technology features, but many are available. Both come with a Uconnect 5-inch infotainment display and Bluetooth. You can upgrade either with a larger touchscreen plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A few active safety features are also optional, such as blind-spot monitoring and forward-collision warning. Plus, the Wrangler and Gladiator offer Jeep’s signature charms, including a removable hardtop and removable doors.

Well, should you get the Gladiator or the Wrangler?

Jeep logo seen at the dealer.
A Jeep logo seen at the dealer. | Sergei Mikhailichenko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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The 2021 Gladiator has an MSRP range of $33,565 – $43,895 while the 2021 Wrangler ranges from $28,315 – $42,215. You should get the Gladiator if you favor the functionality of a truck bed and impressive towing capability. For lightweight duties and easier maneuverability in the city, the Wrangler makes more sense.