Both the Jeep Gladiator and Ram 1500 are proving to be significant players in the pickup truck market. The Gladiator proves an out-the-box off-roader can also make a good work truck. And the Ram 1500—along with its heavy-duty siblings—have already won awards for serving up both utility and luxury. Now, Car and Driver has named both the Jeep Gladiator and Ram 1500 to its 10Best List. And at the same time, the publication revealed how trucks like these changed what the 10Best list will be about.
Why Car and Driver liked about the Jeep Gladiator
The Jeep Gladiator changed a lot of minds at Car and Driver. In fact, its place on the former 10Best Trucks and SUVs List (more on ‘former’ later) was previously held by the three-time-winning Honda Ridgeline
Staffers acknowledge that the truck isn’t built for turning or acceleration, but it does both very well for the majority of drivers. It also rides and handles better than any Wrangler. Much of that is due to the longer wheelbase, which allows for the pickup bed. And it’s that pickup bed that’s key for understanding why Car and Driver named the Gladiator to the list. Because while the Wrangler is slightly better off-road, what the Gladiator provides in daily utility far makes up for it.
The Gladiator can tow up to 7650 lbs, and carry up to 1600 more. It’s available with a manual, one of only 3 trucks that still offer it. It has seating for five so more people can enjoy driving around with no roof or doors (though wind noise gets annoying). And there’ll soon be a diesel version, for even more overlanding miles.
Numerically, the Gladiator isn’t the best in any one category. Some trucks are faster, some trucks can haul more, and others are more fuel-efficient. But to quote K.C. Colwell, “it’s a convertible pickup wagon…an 83-function Swiss Army knife for the road.”
Why Car and Driver liked the Ram 1500
Not only did the Ram 1500 win Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year award, it was also recently named an IIHS Top Safety Pick+. Ram trucks are also very popular with farmers and are catching up quickly to Ford F-Series sales.
Car and Driver actually named the Ram 1500 a 10Best Truck last year. Up-scale trims like the Laramie Longhorn impressed over other domestic luxury brands, and even the stock suspension provided a stable and comfortable ride. These things haven’t changed for the 2020 list. And that’s why the Ram 1500 is back again.
Depending on the engine choice, the Ram 1500 can handle a 2300-lb payload or tow up to 12,750 lbs. But regardless of which engine buyers pick, they all deliver power smoothly and effortlessly. And based on other sources’ testing, even overloading the Ram doesn’t disturb its composure. Buyers can also get features like the RamBox cargo system and adjustable-height air suspension to make getting in and out easier. And with the optional diesel engine and long-range fuel tank, the Ram 1500 could potentially drive for up to 1000 miles.
It’s this combination of features that made Car and Driver name the Ram 1500 a 2020 10Best vehicle. It’s comfortable and capable, at home on the farm or in the city.
How is the 10Best list decided?
As in years past, the Car and Driver reviewers gathered all the new or “significantly refreshed” vehicles for 2020 together. Each car, truck, and SUV had to fall under a $90,000 price cap. Once gathered, each vehicle was judged on a 100-point scale. The point was to determine which 10 delivered great value and practicality, engaged their driver (not necessarily through speed), and fulfilled their intended mission better than their competition. The 10Best winners represent what Car and Driver calls “the smartest, most entertaining vehicles you can buy today.”
Only, starting from this year, Car and Driver changed the format. The publication used to put out both a 10Best Cars list, and a 10Best Trucks and SUVs list. However, as editor-in-chief Sharon Carty explains, while that made reviewers’ jobs easier, it wasn’t helping consumers. Because nowadays, trucks and SUVs are just as popular and shopped around as much as cars. If Car and Driver wanted to truly list the 10 best vehicles on sale today, it would have to be one list.