By Kristin Shaw
It’s more than a Jeep Wrangler with a truck bed. This long-awaited vehicle is the first truck from the Jeep brand for more than 27 years, and they wanted to do it right. There are four trim levels to choose from: the base Sport, Sport S, mid-priced Overland and the rugged Rubicon. All models are Trail Rated; the Sport and Overland models have Command-Trac 4×4 systems, the Rubicon a pro-level Rock-Trac which includes heavy-duty axles, electronic sway bar disconnect, and more. I tested this vehicle on some rough, deeply inclined, rock-strewn hills and it delivers with confidence.
DRIVE & HANDLING
The Gladiator comes standard with a six-speed manual but unless you are a hard-core 4×4 enthusiast and need the extreme crawl ratio, I recommend the eight-speed automatic. The engine is a more-than-capable 3.6L 285 horsepower Pentastar V6 for all trims, and an Ecodiesel engine will be available at some point in the near future.
The brand-new Jeep Gladiator can take you easily from pavement to dirt to mud, with a towing capacity of 7,650 pounds, and the electronically connected sway bar and Off Road Plus adds capabilities for serious off-roading.
THERE IS NO DOUBT THIS IS A JEEP
Available with a soft or hard top, the Jeep Gladiator offers a little something for everyone. Depending on your preferences on wind noise and open-air driving, the vehicle can be fully stripped of its doors and roof and the top peeled back. The designers and engineers at Jeep came up with a smart system for the detachable panels and the bolts, which live in a storage bin under your rear seat when you remove them. Worrying about losing a bolt is much less stressful when you know exactly where they are.
- Sport (starting at $35,545): 17-Inch x 7.5-Inch Black Steel Styled Wheels, cloth seats, halogen headlamps, traction control
- Sport S (starting at $38,240): 17-Inch x 7.5-Inch Tech Silver Aluminum Wheels, cloth seats, Alpine® Premium Audio System optional, auto headlamps, traction control, security alarm
- Overland (starting at $41,890): 18-Inch x 7.5-Inch Tech Silver Aluminum Wheels, cloth seats, Alpine® Premium Audio System optional, auto headlamps, halogen headlamps, traction control, security alarm
- Rubicon (starting at $45,040): 17-Inch x 7.5-Inch Tech Silver Aluminum Wheels, leather-trimmed bucket seats available, Alpine® Premium Audio System optional, auto headlamps, halogen headlamps, security alarm
The base Sport model starts at $35,545, but the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon can’t be beat for all of the bells and whistles for an additional $10K.
- Punk’N Metallic
- Gobi Clear-Coat
- Black Clear-Coat
- Hydro Blue Pearl
- Bright White
- Granite Crystal Metallic
- Billet Silver Metallic
- Gator Clear-Coat
- Firecracker Red Clear-Coat
- Sting-Gray Clear-Coat
FEATURES WE LOVE
- Safety options are everything you’d expect from a Jeep, like adaptive cruise control with full stop, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic detection (so handy in busy parking lots).
- A forward-facing off-road trail camera with mini power washer is available on Rubicon models.
- All trims can be fitted with a portable wireless speaker which is housed in a docking station on the rear quarter panel, where it also charges up when you’re not using it.
- The Gladiator’s towing capacity really rocks when you add the $250 Trailer Towing Package, and it can haul a whopping 7,650 pounds, which is more than the Wrangler, which tops out at 3,500 pounds.
- The audio system sound quality could be better; an upgraded audio system would be a welcome addition.
- The Gladiator is rated at 17 miles per gallon city, 22 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined. It guzzles gas like an athlete chugs Gatorade.
IF THIS VEHICLE WERE A SONG, IT WOULD BE
“Tuff Enough” by the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Ridiculous spelling aside, this song is the perfect match for this powerful truck.
Nothing I’d do for you that’s too tuff for me
I’d put out a burning building with a shovel and dirt
And not even worry about getting hurt