For the Gladiator to perform as a proper truck, it required a new frame that’s stronger and longer than the Wrangler Unlimited’s (by about 80cm). The result is a tow rating of 3,475kg and a payload rating of 725kg.PHOTO: FCA

For the Gladiator to perform as a proper truck, it required a new frame that’s stronger and longer than the Wrangler Unlimited’s (by about 80cm). The result is a tow rating of 3,475kg and a payload rating of 725kg. PHOTO: FCA

2020 Jeep Gladiator

It’s actually a real truck

The Jeep division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is no stranger to pickup production, having built various generations of them dating back to the original 1947 Willys Overland. So, with growing interest in off-road vehicles of all kinds, bringing a Jeep truck to market seems to make good sense.

Viewed head-on, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator looks like any other Jeep Wrangler, with a traditional slotted vertical grille, round headlights and a stout bumper. Behind the second-row seat is a five-foot-long box capable of transporting up to 725 kilograms of ATV, dirt bikes, camping gear and/or just about anything else you can imagine. Trailering capacity with the proper tow package tops out at 3,475kg.

To make the Gladiator, Jeep built a new — and stronger — frame, longer than the Wrangler Unlimited’s by about 80 centimetres. This was necessary to have a decent-sized box and the capability to put heavy things in it. As such, the Gladiator has a best-in-class tow rating.

The distance between the front and rear wheels is increased by about 50cm. The result is a smooth visual transition from passenger compartment to pickup bed. The Gladiator doesn’t really look like a Wrangler with a truck box slapped on the back.

As with other Wranglers, the Gladiator’s removable doors, hood, fenders, tailgate and fold-down windshield frame are made of aluminum. The Gladiator also matches other Wranglers with an ability to ford water up to 75cm deep, although with a longer wheelbase, there’s a slightly greater chance of being high-centred going over obstructions (like a teeter-totter).

The steel hardtop can be unbolted and replaced with an optional folding soft-top, or with a hardtop with dual removable roof panels that lets the sun shine over the front seats. A handy sliding rear-window is standard with either version.

The interior is pretty much a walkover from the other Wranglers, including a colour-keyed dashboard with myriad knobs and switches, along with a standard touch-screen for the infotainment system. The split-folding rear seat has storage compartments beneath the cushion as well as behind the seat back.

The standard 3.6-litre V-6 — 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque — will be familiar to Wrangler fans and moves the Gladiator along with surprising authority.

A recently added option is a 3.0-litre V-6 turbo-diesel that puts out 260 hp and 442 pound-feet. Note that the Gladiator can’t be ordered with the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine available in two- and four-door Wranglers.

A six-speed manual transmission or optional eight-speed automatic can be harnessed to the V-6, while the auto box is standard with the turbo-diesel.

Fuel consumption for the 3.6 and the automatic transmission is rated at 13.7 l/100 km in the city, 10.7 on the highway and 12.3 combined.

Command-Trac four-wheel-drive, which comes with all but the Rubicon trim, has a two-speed transfer case with low-range gearing.

The Rock-Trac system in the Rubicon has locking front and rear differentials plus steeper low-range gearing for crawling up and down sharp inclines.

Pricing for the base Sport S — one of three trims — starts at $45,900, including destination charges. It comes reasonably well turned out, but you’ll need to pony up a few more dollars for the Overland or Rubicon trims to get the seven-inch display, ambient interior lighting, side steps, satellite radio and other niceties.

Along with the Rock-Trac 4×4 system, the off-road thrashing Rubicon adds heavy-duty front and rear axles, specific Fox-brand shocks, high clearance fender flares, protective skid plates, dual front and rear tow hooks and 33-inch Falken off-road rubber.

As well as the available three-panel removable hard top, the options list includes leather-trimmed seats, nine-speaker Alpine audio system and all available active-safety technology, such as autonomous emergency braking and blind-spot warning.

With increasing competition in the category of off-road-capable-vehicles, the Gladiator — along with the two- and four-door Wrangler models — gives Jeep buyers a range of choices, all with a decades-old pedigree.

The dash layout of the Gladiator looks like that of any other Wrangler, which is to say it’s a busy spot. Note that one shift lever is for the transmission and the other is for operating the transfer case for high-low gear range. PHOTO: FCA

The dash layout of the Gladiator looks like that of any other Wrangler, which is to say it’s a busy spot. Note that one shift lever is for the transmission and the other is for operating the transfer case for high-low gear range. PHOTO: FCA

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: 2020 JEEP GLADIATOR

Type: Four-door, four-wheel-drive midsize pickup

Engines (h.p.): 3.6-litre DOHC V-6 (285); 3.0-litre DOHC V-6, turbo-diesel (260)

Transmissions: Six-speed manual; eight-speed automatic (std. with turbo-diesel)

Market position:The Wrangler-based Gladiator stands to capitalize on the growing demand for traditional two-and four-door Jeep models. Premium priced based model, so consider it a niche Jeep model rather than a straight-up competitor in the midsize segment.

Points: Well-executed styling, front to back. • First-rate interior appointments include plenty of stowage spots. • V-6 is highly rated, but the turbo-diesel is great if more torque is needed. • Optional active-safety technologies should really be standard.

Dynamic safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active collision warning (opt.); emergency braking (opt.)

L/100 km (city/hwy) 13.7/10.7 (3.6, AT); Base price (incl. destination) $45,900

BY COMPARISON:

Ford Ranger SuperCrew 4×4

  • Base price: $37,900
  • Ford’s compact pickup comes with a 270-h.p. turbocharged 2.3-liter I-4.

GMC Canyon Crew Cab 4×4

  • Base price: $40,650
  • Great style, roomy interior and an available 308-horsepower V-6.

Toyota Tacoma SR5 4×4

  • Base price: $43,000
  • Midsize companion to the Tundra comes with a full array of active-safety tech.

written by Malcolm Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

AutomotivecarsTrucks

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Damien Kurek
MP Damien Kurek reflects on newly-released federal budget

‘Further, they recycle old promises they have consistently failed to deliver on’

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Alberta begins rolling out AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for those aged 40 or older

There are more than 70 pharmacies offering AstraZeneca, including 26 offering walk-in appointments

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

FILE - Dan Smyers, left, and Shay Mooney from the band Dan + Shay perform on NBC's Today show in New York on June 28, 2019. The duo will perform at Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
Luke Bryan wins top ACM Award, but female acts own the night

Luke Bryan wins top ACM Award, but female acts own the night

In this undated photo provided by John-Paul Hodnett are a row of teeth on the lower jaw of a 300-million-year-old shark species named this week following a nearly complete skeleton of the species in 2013 in New Mexico. Discoverer Hodnett says it was the short, squat teeth that first alerted him to the possibility that the specimen initially dubbed "Godzilla Shark" could be a species distinct from it's ancient cousins, which have longer, more spear-like teeth. The image was taken using angled light techniques that reveal fossil features underneath sediment. (John-Paul Hodnett via AP)
‘Godzilla’ shark discovered in New Mexico gets formal name

The ancient chompers looked less like the spear-like rows of teeth of related species

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Rogers investigating after wireless customers complain of widespread outage

According to Down Detector, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Most Read