Custom trucks are cool. It’s what overlanding and off-roading are all about. You buy a stock 4×4 and slowly, over time, find all the parts you want for your rig and build a unique ride that’s special to you – or so I thought. AEV is building Jeep Gladiators for you starting at $12,000 over the sticker price for a full-loaded Rubicon. I’m trying to keep an open mind.
American Expedition Vehicles are killer truck outfitters. They are now offering the AEV Gladiator JT370. According to Gear Patrol, this is a build package for the Rubicon trim Jeep Gladiator. The basic mechanics, engine, and transmission are all left stock, but they add a 2.5-inch lift, body armor, and suspension upgrades to make it an even more hardcore off-roader. The “37” in JT370 stands for the 37-inch tires they put on this monster. There is also a JT350 as well.
Is the AEV Jeep Gladiator any good?
It sure as hell better be for the starting at an extra $12,000 on top of buying a new Rubicon. While the money is a little much, AEV is serious about off-roading. These are the same folks who Chevy partnered with on the Colorado ZR2 Bison. I guess if you are going to throw money at something to make it a better off-roader, the Gladiator is a decent choice.
As we have come to learn, the Jeep Gladiator is not super great on the paved roads. It is a Jeep, after all; it’s loud, bouncy, uncomfortable, and rigid. However, off-road, the Jeep Gladiator is a totally different story. It’s tough, stable, powerful, and all-around commanding. If you have the extra scratch, I guess you could do worse things with $74k. But what exactly are you getting?
AER is building a fully-loaded off-roader for you
Gear Patrol tested the AEV Gladiator and found it cartoonish and a bit much to drive among polite society. As the regular Gladiator was already not the best, a huge lift and huge tires don’t help much. To be fair, that’s not what it’s for.
They note the biggest differences are the sheer height of it, the massive tires, and the HD shocks and suspension’s stiffness. The drive was reported to be not too bad. Honestly, that’s all you can ask for in bigfoot off-roader. To do what they need to do off-road, they have to be a bit harsh and stiff.
Tyler Duffey at GP admits that he didn’t get to use its full off-road capabilities, but the off-roading he did felt like he was bringing a gun to a knife fight. In fact, Tyler Duffy at GP said it best, “So what I can say is that the JT370 Gladiator felt supremely over-qualified while moving briskly over dirt roads, like enlisting Max Verstappen to drive you to the airport.” Well said.
All this heavy off-road gear does weight the Jeep down
Duffy mentions that all that tire and gear does hurt the Gladiator’s acceleration a bit. Not that it was going anywhere quick before the AEV upgrades, but you can feel the difference. Although, when the Gladiator gets a piece of the Wranglers Hemi V8, that ought to play well with AEV.
What about the Gladiator’s interior?
It’s basically the same, with a few small exceptions. The headrest says AEV, there’s a build plaque, and the tester was leathered out. Mostly, AEV spent all its time on the outside, with features like the hot-stamped boron steel front bumper and skid plate and the optional snorkel.
As mention earlier, AEV charges $12,000 for the base upgrade package (wheels, tires, suspension, and lift), but the tested version had another $7,000 in upgrades, plus the $55,000 to buy the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon. Slap those numbers together, and you got a $74,000 truck that sucks on the road and rules in the dirt. Y’all do whatever you want with that information.