Jeep enthusiasts everywhere rejoiced, and everyone in the automotive review world clambered to get behind the wheel of the new Gladiator pickup truck. And from MotorTrend’s perspective, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator definitely qualified as a Truck of the Year finalist. However, we all know trucks aren’t just about their cool, Wrangler-like appearances.
The best contenders can also perform, both off-road and on the pavement. So, despite all the buzz and excitement about Gladiator, what had MotorTrend cringing? Let’s take a deeper dive into MT’s latest review of Gladiator so we can tell you what they hated most about it.
What MotorTrend Loved
Hate is a strong word. So, it’s only fair to start by pointing out there are plenty of attributes to love about the Jeep Gladiator. A completely fresh take on truck design, along with the only class available, convertible top, Jeep comes to the table true to its brand and reputation. It has a wide body and stance, making it a beefy contribution to the truck parade in 2020. Being unique and separating from the pack definitely has appeal among consumers.
How does Gladiator handle off-road?
No, MotorTrend doesn’t throw shade at Gladiator for off-road performance. In fact, MT sings its praises. The Rubicon was the only truck in this recent comparison that made it through the course in two-wheel drive. Jeep brings beast-mode to almost every challenge, including rocky hills, stair climbing, and through the moguls.
Is there such a thing as being a little too “Jeep-y?”
When you sit behind the wheel of any Jeep, especially the Gladiator, you expect top-notch performance and capability off-road. According to MotorTrend, that’s exactly what you get too. However, all that beefy power off-road can translate to a bouncy highway ride and sloppy steering. You can also understand that with a convertible, whether hard or soft top, you end up compromising in the cabin noise department. This means long-distance travel in the Gladiator is going to be a little noisy and probably uncomfortable. Considering many consumers buy and use their trucks as a daily-driver companion, it sounds as if the Gladiator might just be too “Jeep-y.”
Steering & crosswinds
Another drawback to Jeep Gladiator’s hunky design is its susceptibility to crosswinds. Trucks aren’t typically designed to be as aerodynamic as a sports car, but in Gladiator’s case, it was a serious problem on the highway. One feature editor mentioned it was as if he had to constantly monitor the steering to compensate.
What MotorTrend hates about Gladiator
MotorTrend judges remarked their major dissatisfaction with Jeep Gladiator’s gear ratios being too spread out, making it harder to find the right gear. It made basic towing feel labored at times as Gladiator struggled to gain speed in transition. First gear rides up to 31 mph, second gear hangs on through 60 mph, and third gear pushes all the way to 100 mph.
Christian Seabaugh, a features editor for MT, said, “For a truck that’s supposed to work or off-road, that’s frankly insane.”
While the Gladiator delivers precisely what Jeep enthusiasts expect in a truck bearing the badge, MotorTrend isn’t sure it’s enough to persuade consumers to compromise elsewhere. For each unique feature, comes an equally unique set of challenges. You may have to take a test drive and decide for yourself. Is all that handsome, off-road toughness worth losing the smooth ride, easy steering, and reliable gear ranges? For now, it’s exciting to see Gladiator come to the dance. It’s changing things up in the category, even if it didn’t have MT’s judges raving for 2020.