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The car market is in a strange place these days. The truck market is even stranger. Many Jeep fans, including myself, have spent a little too much time scoffing at the Jeep Gladiator, and I think it’s time we chill out on that. The truth is the Jeep Gladiator is one of the few trucks on the market that still upholds the old guard in the pickup truck world. I’m rethinking some of the more critical tendencies toward the Jeep truck. Let’s take a look at why we might have to change our tune on the Jeep Gladiator. 

The Jeep Gladiator is cooler than we thought

2023 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail parked in a desert in front of mountains
2023 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail | Stellantis

Trucks have changed more than many other segments of the car world. We are sprinting all out toward a world where pickup trucks are reserved only for the wealthier drivers. The advent of electric trucks, while very cool and exciting, has drastically changed what we expect from trucks. Even the gas trucks are more frequently outfitted with fancy leather, luxury tech packages, and race car engines. This is a paradigm shift that has left many long-time truck lovers behind. One of the few models left that speaks to the bare-knuckle approach that many have grown up with toward trucks is the Jeep pickup truck. 

The Jeep Gladiator offers fancier trims, wild motors, and a fairly stiff price tag. However, those things can be navigated for those of us who only need our trucks to be 4WD, manual, and rugged. 

The Jeep Gladiator is a solid off-road rig

This Jeep Gladiator is a reliable pickup truck
A 2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon | Jeep

Although the Gladiator uses a different chassis than the Wrangler, it is still, in essence, a Wrangler Truck. Jeep has done this in the past with the CJ8 scrambler model. What this means for consumers is that you can have the utility of a pickup truck while maintaining your ability to mash off-road with Jeep friends. 

There are countless articles on the internet asking whether or not you can off-road in a Gladiator. This is silly. Of course you can off-road in a Gladiator; it’s a proper Jeep. The Gladiator Rubicon is the model most people will talk about as an off-roader. This model offers bigger tires, 11.1 inches of ground clearance, various skid plates to keep mechanical components safe, and a proper 4WD system. However, you don’t have to have the Rubicon to get out in the woods. A bone-stock Wrangler or Gladiator can still wheel pretty good. Oftentimes, a set of better tires and slight lift added to a base model will get you farther than many people with a Rubicon will ever choose to take their $50,000+ rig. 

How much can a Jeep Gladiator tow? 

Special edition Jeep SUV and truck in unique Gobi beige color, a lake visible in the background.
2022 Jeep Gladiator and Wrangler in Gobi | Stellantis

The 2024 Jeep Gladiator can tow up to 7,500 lbs and carry 1,750 lbs in the bed. These are proper pickup truck numbers. The worry is that the Gladiator will be too trucky to do Wrangler things and too Wranglery to do truck things. Neither is true.

Unlike Wranglers in the past, the Gladiator is modern and convenient. This is one of the main reasons the Gladiator is a cool truck. Sure, I miss the rough go-kart-esque Jeeps, but the world has moved on from those days, and we have to move with it. That said, the Gladiator has a decent interior with a 12.3-inch LED display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Jeep Adventure Guides software featuring Trails Offroad programming. This is a real truck meant to be used every day. After driving a Wrangler TJ for 11 years, I can’t say in good conscience that Jeeps were always designed to be the best daily drivers. 

Is a Jeep Gladiator worth it? 

So much of the car world, particularly the enthusiasts within it, is built around how a car makes you feel. Sure, performance and specs matter, but these things don’t carry the same weight in sales as how the thing makes you feel. Cars and trucks are often bought to reflect how we view ourselves. 

It is our nature that make Jeep products like the Gladiator and Wrangler, in particular, a worthy truck to buy. Now, that isn’t to say that Wrangler and Gladiator pricing isn’t a bit tough to stomach for long-time Jeep enthusiasts. But if we keep in mind that for many of us, our cars are like our clothes or homes – something that reflects who we are (or who we want to be) – then there is little argument to make against the Jeep Gladiator being “worth it.” 

The fact is, no one can tell you, dear reader, what car is or isn’t worth it to you. Considering things like efficiency, reliability, and cost are essential in making a wise purchase decision. However, those can’t be the only factors that dictate what is or isn’t worth it. The emotional element is too important. If it weren’t, we’d all be driving a Toyota Prius.