We recently spent a week with the 2020 Jeep Gladiator and asked our readers what they wanted to know about FCA’s latest pickup.
A number of questions focused on the Gladiator’s comfort and ride quality. This wasn’t too surprising as the Wrangler isn’t exactly the most comfortable vehicle on the market.
I went into the review expecting a truck-ish ride, but thankfully those fears were unwarranted. While I wouldn’t quite call it crossover-like, the Gladiator delivers a relatively smooth and comfortable ride.
First Drive: 2020 Jeep Gladiator Marks The End Of Boring Mid-Size Pickups
The truck’s suspension dutifully handled Michigan’s pothole covered roads with little fuss or drama. I never heard any squeaks or rattles during our time with the Gladiator and that’s notable considering the truck has a removable three-piece hardtop. One thing you’ll hear plenty of is wind noise as the truck gets a bit loud on the highway and, obviously, when you remove the roof.
Dick Wanted To Know What Kind Of Mileage We Got
The Gladiator’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine has an EPA rating of 17 mpg city / 22 mpg highway / 19 mpg combined. We were close to hitting the latter number as we averaged 18.9 mpg.
That’s so-so for the class when you look exclusively at other mid-size pickups with four-wheel drive and a V6 engine. The more powerful Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon have an EPA rating of 17 mpg city / 24 mpg highway / 19 mpg combined. Likewise, the Toyota Tacoma comes in at 18 mpg city / 22 mpg highway / 20 mpg combined.
The most fuel-efficient is the four-cylinder only Ford Ranger which is rated at 20 mpg city / 24 mpg highway / 22 mpg combined. The ancient Nissan Frontier, on the other hand, returns a dismal 15 mpg city / 21 mpg highway / 17 mpg combined.
It Can Cost As Much As A Full-Size Pickup
Pricing was another issue brought up by a number of our readers. The Gladiator starts at a reasonable $33,545 but options can quickly push the model into full-size truck territory. That was the case with our tester which had a sticker price of $51,115.
If price is a factor, you’ll have to make some obvious tradeoffs. That being said, you can get a decent Gladiator for around $37,475. For that price, you get a three-piece hardtop, tinted rear windows, a spray-in bedliner and the trailer tow package which includes a heavy duty cooling system, a beefier alternator and a class IV receiver. Of course, you’ll have to stick with the manual and make do with a five-inch infotainment system.
However, I’d probably opt for the Gladiator Sport S which starts at $36,745. That’s still pretty reasonable, but all the aforementioned equipment boosts the price to $40,180. The Sport S can also be equipped with better option packages including a 7-inch Radio Group, an Active Safety Group and Adaptive Cruise Control. Those features make the truck a lot more livable, but each will add nearly a $1,000 to the sticker price.
That’s also assuming you want the six-speed manual as the eight-speed automatic is a $2,000 option. It’s also worth mentioning that if you want the Max Tow Package, which increases the towing capacity to 7,650 lbs (3,470 kg), you need to get the automatic.
The Key Fob Is Huge
Key fobs aren’t very exciting unless they’re fitted with a digital display or made from high-end materials. The Gladiator’s key fob doesn’t have either, but it’s notable because of its size.
Measuring nearly 2.75 inches (70 mm) long and 1.25 (32 mm) inches wide, the key fob is huge and that’s even before adding house keys. There are some reasons for this as the fob has an integrated switchblade key and a transmitter for the push button ignition. However, it seems like it could be smaller especially since our Gladiator wasn’t equipped with a passive entry system.
It’s A Wrangler Pickup, But Not Exactly
The Gladiator shares a lot in common with the Wrangler, but it’s not exactly a Wrangler pickup. Besides the obvious exterior styling differences, including the bed and modestly revised grille, the truck’s frame is 31 inches (787 mm) longer than the Wrangler. This increases the wheelbase by 19.4 inches (493 mm) and results in a number of other components – including the prop shaft, exhaust and brake / fuel lines – being modified for truck use.
Furthermore, Jeep says the “longer wheelbase and the bed’s positioning … enables for better weight distribution and a more comfortable and composed ride when carrying cargo.”
The interior has also been modified as the Gladiator comes with unique rear seats that are exclusive to the pickup. They fold up to provide access to an under seat storage compartment and fold down to provide a flat load floor as well as access to the rear cab. The latter features additional storage compartments and provides access to the removable roof.
It’s Trail-Rated And Then Some
Jeep is known for its off-road capability and it comes as little surprise that the company offers a rough and tumble Rubicon variant. It competes with models such as the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.
The Gladiator Rubicon starts at $43,545 and is off-road ready as it featured a rugged exterior that boasts rock rails, skid plates, tow hooks and a heavy-duty steel rear bumper. The model also has 17-inch wheels that are wrapped in 33-inch all-terrain tires.
Of course, the changes are more than skin deep as the Rubicon has a segment-exclusive electronic sway-bar disconnect, wider Dana 44 axles and FOX monotube shocks. The model even has a forward-facing off-road camera that allows you to see obstacles that would typically be hidden from view.
Other highlights include locking differentials and a Rock-Trac NV241 transfer case. They enable the tuck to have an impressive of crawl ratio of 84.2:1 with the six-speed manual and 77.2:1 with the optional eight-speed automatic.
Besides the hardcore hardware, the Rubicon boasts 11.1 inches (282 mm) of ground clearance which is 1.1 inches (28 mm) more than the standard model. The truck also has an approach angle of 43.6 degrees, a breakover angle of 20.3 degrees and a departure angle of 26 degrees.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time with the truck and you can check out our full review here.