Being based on the iconic Jeep Wrangler, the Jeep Gladiator pickup has serious off-road capability. But the truck’s Wrangler roots don’t just allow it to rock-crawl. It also makes it easier for Jeep to introduce new options. If the Wrangler can have it, the Gladiator most likely can, too. For example, the Gladiator diesel option first spotted in the Wrangler. But the Gladiator may be getting something else from the Wrangler. A plug-in hybrid version of the Jeep Wrangler has been spotted several times by photographers, and FCA has confirmed such a model is coming. And there’s a strong possibility a Jeep Gladiator plug-in hybrid could be on the way.
Why There Isn’t Already a Gladiator Hybrid
The Jeep Wrangler does technically already have a hybrid version. However, it’s the turbocharged four-cylinder eTorque “mild hybrid”. This system can’t run the car on its own but is just there to support the four-cylinder where it doesn’t make enough power. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, on the other hand, has an electric motor and rechargeable battery that can actually power the car/truck for several miles.
Motor Trend has reported that Jeep will begin offering the Wrangler with an eTorque-equipped V6, similar to the Ram 1500. The non-hybrid V6 is the Gladiator’s only engine choice at the moment (until the diesel is officially unveiled). However, the eTorque option isn’t available for the Gladiator. The Drive reported that the four-cylinder engine couldn’t handle the truck’s towing requirements without drastic temperature control changes. It is possible the mild-hybrid V6 could become available for the Gladiator, but we’ve heard no rumors.
Jeep Wrangler Plug-In Hybrid: What We Know So Far
A Jeep Wrangler PHEV was first teased in an announcement by then-Jeep chief Mike Manley back at the 2017 LA Auto Show. Car and Driver reported that Jeep marketing brand director Scott Tallon acknowledged that a hybrid Wrangler was “’ an efficiency play’”, but Manley stressed it would be just as off-road capable as the non-hybrid Wrangler. Tallon also stated that the hybrid system would use some parts from the Chrysler Pacific Hybrid. He followed up by adding that Jeep would “’ leverage the technology in a completely different way.’” Car and Driver mused that this could mean the PHEV tech would allow for features like onboard power supply for camping or emergencies.
Now, with the predicted 2020 launch, several test mules have been spotted, both by Car and Driver as well as Pickup Truck Talk. One of Car and Driver’s spy photographers claims to have witnessed a PHEV Wrangler mule traveling in EV-only mode. Allegedly, the SUV traveled for 3-4 miles at speeds up to 25 mph until the engine fired up.
Visually, the mules are difficult to distinguish from production Wranglers. But there is one thing that stands out: extra body cladding. All the mules have sported black cladding wrapping around the hood and down the sides of the fenders. In addition, large bulges can be seen where the fenders meet the doors. It’s likely that Jeep is doing this to disguise where the PHEV Wrangler’s charging port is.
What is interesting to note is the charging port’s general location. Motor1 noted that the Jeep Renegade and Compass PHEVs have their charging ports in the back. The Wrangler’s appears to be somewhere at the front.
How Likely is a Jeep Gladiator Plug-In Hybrid?
A front-mounted charging port actually makes a plug-in hybrid Gladiator more plausible. As we’ve stated before, the Wrangler and Gladiator have essentially the same front end. It’s entirely possible designers and engineers placed the Wrangler’s charging point in the front so the Gladiator’s could be there, too. That would be cheaper and easier than having to design one charging system for each vehicle.
The Gladiator and Wrangler are also assembled at the same plant in Toledo, Ohio. FCA has already confirmed the Toledo Plant will produce the PHEV Wrangler’s “power electronics module”, according to The Drive. This module contains the hybrid’s charging system and power inverter for the electric motor, and will allegedly be housed underneath the Wrangler, between the exhaust and prop shaft. If the system fits under the Wrangler, it would most certainly fit under the Gladiator. And production is right there, in-house.
A Jeep Gladiator plug-in hybrid would also offer a market advantage for Jeep and FCA. It would make the Gladiator the only mid-size PHEV pickup on sale in the US.
So how likely is a Gladiator plug-in hybrid? Very.