Trucks & SUVs

British Man Can’t Stop Grinning Behind the Wheel of the Jeep Gladiator

It’s not just Americans who want pickups from across the Atlantic. Europeans are importing more American trucks, to do what crossovers can’t. The differences in safety and emissions regulations, though, complicate this exchange. It’s why the US didn’t get the Ford Ranger Raptor. But, if there’s enough demand, the manufacturers will provide. Despite some safety concerns, the Jeep Wrangler is sold in Europe, and Carwow even drag-raced it. Recently, host Mat Watson drove the Jeep Gladiator pickup. It’s not sold in Europe now, but based on his reaction, it should be.

What Carwow host Mat Watson liked about the Jeep Gladiator’s features

Watson is no stranger to off-road trucks and SUVs. He’s drag-raced multiple Ford Raptor models, and set the Wrangler against a Mercedes G-Class and Suzuki Jimny in an off-roading competition. And he found a lot to like about the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon pickup truck.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon | Jeep

It wasn’t just the off-roading features like the electronically-disconnecting sway bars, LED spotlights, and 35” BFGoodrich tires that he enjoyed. Watson was a big fan of the Jeep Gladiator’s overall design, from the tow hooks to the boxy taillights and hood clips. In fact, he preferred it to the normal Wrangler’s looks.

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

And he appreciated how much thought was clearly put into the interior and exterior. For instance, all the buttons are large, so they can be operated while wearing gloves. And the rear speakers, which are built into the overhead bars, not the doors.

How the Jeep Gladiator drove

In addition to the off-road tires, the Gladiator Rubicon rides on Fox 2” shocks. And normally, modifications like this tend to negatively affect a truck’s on-road behavior. But around the canyon roads, with the tube doors like the Miami Three Oh Five edition’s, Watson couldn’t stop smiling. He found the steering nice and light, and the ride comfy. The Jeep Gladiator also didn’t roll as much as he thought it would. He was having fun.

What Mat Watson didn’t like about the Jeep Gladiator

Mat Watson did have a few criticisms for the Jeep Gladiator. Being that it shares much of its interior with the Wrangler, some of Watson’s issues with the Wrangler carried over. Although the switches are big, and all the off-road-related switches are clustered together, overall the center console layout could use some improvement. In addition, although the infotainment screen is large, clear, and responsive, some of the icons are small, and difficult to press with gloved fingers.

Mat did like the Gladiator’s leather seats and overall fit-and-finish of the cabin. However, he wondered why the rear wheel arch protruded so far into the passenger space. That makes some sense with the Wrangler, but the Gladiator’s rear wheels are pushed further back. That arch intrusion makes no sense in the pickup. Also, Watson noted rear knee room to be rather tight.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon rear interior
2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon rear interior | Jeep

And, while he enjoyed the removable doors and roof, he did notice a problem with the soft roof cover. It flaps about in the rear, especially when moving or when it’s windy, and can whack rear passengers on the head.

What might really handicap the Gladiator in Europe

2019 Ford Ranger Raptor
2019 Ford Ranger Raptor | Ford UK

Then there’s the issue of price. As tested, the Jeep Gladiator in the video cost $56,000. Although the Gladiator isn’t available in Europe yet, Watson estimated it would cost the same in pounds once it got to the UK. That’s a bit more expensive than the Ford Ranger Raptor, which Smith and Sniff already considered fairly pricey. And while diesels are popular in Europe, the Ranger Raptor’s is somewhat underpowered. The Gladiator may be getting a diesel soon, but there’s the issue of getting it Euro-compliant.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Three O Five Edition
2020 Jeep Gladiator Three O Five Edition | FCA

Then again, the Gladiator may also get a hybrid option soon. It also already has the V6. And it’s got removable doors. It’s that last point that really drives home the appeal of this Jeep pickup.

Does the Jeep Gladiator have a place in Europe and the UK?

Mat Watson did say that, in Europe and the UK, a truck like the Jeep Gladiator is a bit of a niche product. Smith and Sniff said something similar in their review of the Ranger Raptor. And unfortunately, Watson wasn’t able to take the Gladiator off-road.

Nevertheless, he clearly enjoyed his time with the Jeep. He acknowledged that, while the Gladiator is a bit compromised off-road compared to the Wrangler, because of the bed and wheelbase, that the utility and personality of the truck more than makes up for it. Car and Driver said much the same when placing the Jeep Gladiator on this year’s 10Best list.

To Mat, the Gladiator felt special, and it made him “feel super good about your life.” Yes, the Jeep Gladiator may be a niche product across the pond, but it fills its niche very well. I just hope holiday-goers in the UK don’t get too soaked when they take off the doors.