Jeep lovers everywhere were quaking in their boots when they found out that Jeep was releasing its first pickup truck since the early 1990s. With only one model year so far, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator is definitely a one-of-a-kind pickup, especially compared to other midsize trucks out there.
It looks like a Wrangler… until you step around and notice it has a bed attached to the back. Recently, Motor Trend put the Gladiator through its paces to see how it stood up to its competition. Let’s take a look at how it did.
What’s special about the Jeep Gladiator?
The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is a unique option for people looking for a new pickup truck. The Gladiator is offered with a body-colored hardtop, a soft convertible top, or Jeep’s black Freedom Top with removable front panels. The truck is only offered in a four-door style, unlike the Wrangler, but it will still have removable doors like its SUV sibling. The Gladiator lineup includes the Sport, Sport S, Overland, and Rubicon models.
The Gladiator is powered by a 285 horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine. The Gladiator Sport has the highest towing capacity out of the rest of its lineup, being able to tow up to 7,650 pounds. Its payload maxes out at 1,600 pounds. That’s plenty for a midsize truck, and well ahead of many of its competitors.
How the Gladiator drives
With how similar the Gladiator is to the Wrangler, testers at Motor Trend were curious to see how the two compare when they’re on the road. What they found was surprisingly similar, so much so that they reported it would be easy to forget that you weren’t driving a Wrangler until you caught a glimpse of the Gladiator’s bed in your mirror. That’s not a bad thing, though. As Jeep enthusiasts everywhere will point out, the Wrangler’s ride is smooth when you need it to be, and handles well over more difficult terrain. And the same can now be said for the Gladiator.
One area where the Gladiator is outshone by other midsize trucks is in fuel efficiency. The Gladiator gets about 16/23 mpg city/highway. That’s about average among its competition, but definitely not at the top.
The off-road capable Rubicon held up well
The Gladiator’s off-road option, the Rubicon, was able to hold its own on the muddy and rain-soaked off-road course that Motor Trend used to test it out. The underside is armored so as to not cause too much damage to the truck’s components. The Rubicon was able to handle everything on the course well, from difficult and rocky terrain to muddy descending hills.
The Rubicon model even comes equipped with an Off-Road+ setting. When in four-high, the setting allows for changes in the throttle, brake, and stability control settings to give you more control in sand. In four-low, the setting functions as a rock crawling mode to give you more control over rocks and rocky trails. Both make it safer to encounter the different types of terrain and give you better handling when you need it the most.
Overall, the Gladiator is a solid truck
Motor Trend always seems to have a blast when testing out new trucks, and the Gladiator proved to provide much the same experience for them. Jeeps are meant to be adventure vehicles, ready to accompany you any time you want to take off to the wilderness for some needed R&R, and the Gladiator will fit right in. It’s the perfect companion to take along for some off-roading fun and will give Jeep-lovers everywhere a new toy to play with.