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

The City of Duncan has begun the process to prepare a new transportation plan. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Duncan gets on board with transportation plan

But high cost raises concerns

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
North Cowichan to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A police car at the scene of a child’s death Friday, April 9, at the Falcon Nest Motel in Duncan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
RCMP investigating child’s death at Duncan’s Falcon Nest Motel

First responders attended to a call about an unresponsive child at the… Continue reading

Abby Dyer of Shawnigan Lake School. (Submitted)
Shawnigan Lake School poet wins top prize

Abby Dyer has won first place in the Senior Poem category in the Legion’s Youth Remembrance Contest

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Most Read