Trucks & SUVs

The Jeep Gladiator Is Better Off-Road than the Tacoma TRD Pro

If you’re an off-roading enthusiast, one of the best trucks you can pick is the Jeep Gladiator. This brand-new truck was inspired by the Wrangler but sports a bed and a few components from Ram’s pickups. The Rubicon trim comes equipped with a four-wheel-drive system, locking differentials, removable doors, and even a soft-top roof.

Its specs look great on paper, but how does the Gladiator stack up against the competition? In a recent comparison test performed by MotorTrend, the Gladiator beat out another popular off-roader, the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. Let’s go over both trucks and how they performed during the test.

Tacoma as tested

2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro | Toyota

The TRD Pro has a V6 engine that produces 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Tacoma comes with a lot of standard off-roading gear, including active traction control, an off-roading suspension, crawl control, shock absorbers, and skid plates. It also comes with a rear-locking differential.

As always, the folks at MotorTrend like to load up the tested vehicles with a lot of optional features to give us an idea of the truck’s full range of capabilities. This one comes outfitted with all-terrain tires, off-road shocks, and the unique desert air intake.

Gladiator as tested

The Gladiator Rubicon only has one engine offering, a V6 capable of 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, though the standard offering is a six-speed manual. When tested, MotorTrend found that this engine was a whole second slower than the Tacoma in terms of acceleration. It reaches 60 mph in 8.7 seconds.

Still, the Rubicon trim has just as many off-roading features as the TRD Pro. One unique standard feature is the Off-Road+ button, which allows the truck to easily drive over rocks and sand. MotorTrend outfitted the truck with off-roading shocks, larger tires, skid plates, and an anti-roll bar. The Gladiator also features both a front- and rear-locking differential.

Excellent in water

When faced with a 60-ft river, the Tacoma had some difficulty getting across. The truck was submerged right up to the bottom of the driver’s side window, with the driver getting very wet inside. The traction control feature was not functioning properly, resulting in a sluggish trek to the end of the ravine.

Next, it was the Gladiator’s turn. Unlike the Tacoma, its wheels worked excellently as oars while the truck bobbed up and down in the water. The driver in the Gladiator managed to stay dry. However, it’s worth noting that both trucks sustained very little water damage from this test.

The best cabin

The Toyota’s driver was not impressed with the truck’s cabin space. It has a low seating position which makes visibility difficult. Additionally, there wasn’t much headroom for taller drivers to be seated comfortably. 

The Gladiator’s cabin was louder and not as stable over rough terrain, but testers still liked it better than the Tacoma’s. There’s more space inside for both front-seat riders and their belongings, with plenty of storage cubbies situated throughout.

Great transmission

The Tacoma’s six-speed transmission didn’t deliver as much power as the testers would have liked. The shifts were imprecise and the engine behaved more like a car than an off-roading truck. In contrast, the Gladiator’s transmission has more gears and can deliver more refined shifts. 

Both of the trucks’ crawl control functions worked well, but the Tacoma’s suspension was noticeably stressed after going down a steep hill. The Gladiator barely had any problems thanks to its anti-roll bar. The Tacoma TRD Pro is still a great pick for off-roading, but its reputation of being the “best” may be compromised with the release of the Gladiator.