Jeep fans aren’t the only ones waiting patiently for the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. There’s a Jeep truck in the house again and it looks like a lot of fun. The design is sporty and its off-road capabilities are promising.
Recently the team at MotorTrend took a look at the new Jeep Gladiator. We’re here to tell you everything they loved about one of the year’s most exciting vehicles. MotorTrend named the Jeep Gladiator their 2020 Truck of the Year finalist.
The distinctive design of Gladiator earned points with each of the judges. The truck is striking with its upright design and wider body. It stands out in a market filled with regular trucks. With brand loyalty not as strong as it has been in the past, it’s definitely an advantage.
The Gladiator is the only convertible truck available in today’s market and offers a choice of ragtop or hardtop. It just might be the first mass-produced non-military convertible pickup ever sold in the United States.
With the soft top, you can take just the rear window out of the top and ride safari-style with the roof in place. If the top part of the roof is folded, it doesn’t take up room in the truck’s bed. The windshield can be removed also.
Jeep has always offered excellent off-road capabilities and the Gladiator continues that proud heritage. The team drove the Rubicon model of Gladiator in two-wheel drive over most of their off-road course. They were mightily impressed with its traction and finesse. Even with its long wheelbase, it wasn’t stopped by rocky hills, stairs, or other off-road obstacles that hindered other tested trucks. When it comes to off-roading bragging rights, Jeep walks the walk.
The ride and towing
A vehicle’s off-road capabilities often take away from its performance on the pavement to some extent. The Jeep Gladiator is loud and not the most comfortable vehicle for long trips. The team found Gladiator’s steering on the highway, in both the Rubicon with a hardtop and the Sport model with the soft top, was inconsistent and soft. Crosswinds make an impact on the ride in Gladiator and that means keeping the steering managed. It’s a bouncy ride on the highway.
In nearly every case, the judges for MotorTrend favored the eight-speed automatic over the manual transmission. The found it hard to find the right gear at times where there was a six-speed transmission. They felt the gear ratios were too spread out.
The gears were an issue when it came to towing. One judge for MotorTrend explained that Gladiator’s gears are too long. The first gear covers up to 31 mph, the second up to 60 mph, and third gear up to around 100 mph.
When they tested its towing up Davis Dam, the team member had to remain in second gear until reaching redline. When he shifted to third gear, the truck strained to go faster. They tested Gladiator towing the same weight as close competitor Ford Ranger.
The team found the length of the gears on a truck intended to work or off-road to be “frankly insane.”
Worth the hype?
The Jeep Gladiator with a standard V6 engine, extended cab, and four-wheel-drive traction starts at $35,040 which is on the high side for its class. The cost of the Rubicon model they tested was on par with that of the Ram 1500 Rebel EcoDiesel which is in the segment just about the mid-size Jeep.
Still, the Gladiator does the Jeep brand proud. The design is unique, eye-catching and versatile. Its off-road capabilities will be a huge draw for many weekend warriors and adventurers of all types. Jeep Gladiator is still a loud, bumpy ride with erratic steering. The number of people willing to buy a Gladiator despite its shortcomings remains to be seen.