Trucks & SUVs

Why the Jeep Gladiator Can’t Match the Colorado ZR2 Bison Off-Road

Midsize trucks are one of the most popular options for people looking to get a new truck. When you throw in off-road capabilities, then you’ve got yourself a recipe for a good time. The off-road versions of midsize trucks tend to get better gas mileage than their full-size competitors but are still able to perform well on trails and in tough conditions.

The Jeep Gladiator is new this year and is the first pickup from Jeep since 1992. It has the same look and feel as a Wrangler, but thanks to its bed, the Gladiator is arguably even more practical. MotorTrend recently tested out a Gladiator Rubicon alongside a Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and a Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. Let’s take a look at how it did.

How did the trucks compare to each other?

All three trucks are about the same size and have similar V6 engines, with the ZR2 Bison getting slightly more horsepower than the Gladiator and the Tacoma TRD Pro. Each is designed for off-roading and the Motor Trend crew tested them out in the Mojave Desert, taking them over rocks, through water, and on sandy trails. Because what better way to figure out which off-road truck is the best than to run them through the desert?

Each truck came equipped with its own special off-roading feature unique to them. The Gladiator Rubicon has an Off-Road+ setting that allows for more control with low-speed rock crawling, as well as an electronically disconnecting front anti-roll bar that gives it more suspension articulation. The Colorado gets a Multimatic Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve dampers that make it drive better on-road, rock crawling at low speeds, and while desert running at higher speeds. The Tacoma TRD Pro has a special Desert Air Intake that makes it fit right in in the desert.

Which truck came out on top?

While the Motor Trend guys really put the trucks through their paces, there was definitely a clear winner: the Colorado ZR2 Bison. They ranked the Gladiator in second place, leaving the Tacoma TRD Pro in last place. The Tacoma held up well, but its uncomfortable cabin really seemed to annoy them, and we can see why. If you’re looking to spend a weekend on the trails somewhere in the wilderness, the last thing you want is to spend hours sitting in an uncomfortable vehicle.

The Gladiator Rubicon has a lot going for it in terms of off-road capabilities, but it ultimately was outshone by the ZR2 Bison. The Gladiator’s low clearance really knocked it down a few pegs because if you’re miles from civilization, you can’t afford to be scraping your underside and causing damage.

The Colorado ZR2 Bison is the best of both worlds

The ZR2 Bison combines what’s good about the Tacoma TRD Pro and the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon. It’s versatile and compact enough to be able to fit on any tight trails, but is powerful enough for you to feel confident you’ll get through any obstacles you may find along the way. It’s comfortable and has plenty of inside storage that you can easily access, which the Tacoma lacked, and it’s more than $10,000 cheaper than the Gladiator. Can’t argue with that.

While all three trucks are great options for a midsize off-road truck, the Colorado ZR2 Bison was the clear winner here. Not only off-roading but on-road as well; the Colorado is a much more comfortable option for everyday driving, which most people are looking for in a midsize truck.