Trucks & SUVs

Critics Are Divided Over the Jeep Gladiator

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is the first truck from Jeep in decades. There are a lot of factors to consider when reviewing a new truck, but for the Gladiator, it seems that reviewers aren’t completely in agreement. Car and Driver loves the Gladiator while Consumer Reports doesn’t.

Car and Driver’s review of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator

Car and Driver loves that the 2020 Jeep Gladiator pairs a pick-up truck’s off-road abilities with Jeep’s style and qualities. The Gladiator was named to Car and Driver’s 2020 Editors’ Choice as the best midsize pickup truck. Car and Driver also named the Gladiator to its 2020 10Best list, calling it a “unique entry among mid-size pickup trucks.”

It likes the Gladiator’s “genuine trail-rated capabilities, undeniable Jeep character, [and] significant towing capacity.” C&D did note the Gladiator’s high price, lack of customization, and on-road handling issues.

Car and Driver acknowledges the Gladiator’s shortcomings but judges it on its own merits. “These trucks thrive in the dirt, and we’re giving this Jeep our highest praise because it accomplishes a purpose that only a Wrangler could otherwise fulfill and yet is better to live with than the SUV.”

Consumer Reports’ review

Consumer Reports‘ ratings appear to be less subjective, giving the 2020 Jeep Gladiator an overall rating of just 46. Consumer Reports likes the Gladiator better than the similar Wrangler but points out that the Gladiator looks better because its competitors are “lackluster.”

In addition, Consumer Reports likes the off-road capabilities as well as the rear suspension on the Gladiator, which is similar to the one on the Ram 1500. It provides the Gladiator with a “better ride” than either the Wrangler or some of the Gladiator’s competitors.

Consumer Reports is less favorable about the Gladiator’s handling, which it calls “decidedly clumsy with mushy and slow steering.” Consumer Reports isn’t thrilled with the interior either, finding it to be hard to climb into with seats that aren’t that comfortable. It points out that despite its Jeep qualities, it has a high price, and advanced safety features add to that cost.

While it is good for off-roading, Consumer Reports feels other competitors are as well. Consumer Reports rated three compact pickup trucks more highly than the Gladiator. The 2020 Honda Ridgeline is rated at 76. The 2020 Ford Ranger is rated at 65, and the 2020 Toyota Tacoma is rated at 47.

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator

RELATED: The Jeep Gladiator Has a More Unique Interior Than Any Other Truck

The 2020 Gladiator is the first truck from Jeep in quite a long time. Jeep produced a Gladiator truck between 1963 and 1971. That was followed by the J-Series, but in 1987 Jeep stopped producing midsize trucks. The Gladiator is based on the Jeep Wrangler but has a longer wheelbase and a 5-foot truck bed. The new Gladiator has best-in-class towing capacity at 7,650 pounds. It can also haul a payload of up to 1,600 pounds.

The Gladiator includes Jeep’s convertible top. Owners can choose between a soft top, matching color hardtop, or black hardtop. The lightweight doors can easily be removed, and the front windshield folds down. Its off-road features include standard four-wheel drive plus a strong suspension and off-road tires. It also has lots of skid plates and is able to drive through up to 30 inches of water.

It currently has just one engine, although a diesel-powered V6 is expected eventually. The current engine is a 3.6-liter V6 that generates 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or an available eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Gladiator’s interior has a vertical dashboard similar to the one in the Wrangler. It also has a waterproof push-button start. The standard touchscreen is 5.0 inches, but there are two upgraded sizes at 7.0 inches and 8.4 inches. The larger two have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

It offers several available driver assistance features, including adaptive cruise control with forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear parking sensors; however, other trucks have more features available.

While Car and Driver and Consumer Reports do disagree about the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, they both recognize the same plus and minuses of the new truck. Buyers looking for Jeep qualities and off-road capabilities will be happy with the Gladiator. Other buyers may prefer to put their money toward a more traditional pickup.