Quick Take: 2020 Jeep Gladiator
Recently, Cartrast had the chance to experience the off-road prowess of the Jeep Gladiator pickup truck at an obstacle course on the deck of the USS Hornet in Alameda, California and at the off-road course of the Land Rover Experience Center at the Quail Lodge in Carmel, California. The Gladiator is all-new for the 2020 model year and is the first truck from Jeep since the Comanche was discontinued in 1992. We drove the off-road-optimized Gladiator Rubicon model, which comes standard with a Rock-Trac heavy-duty four-wheel-drive system, Dana 44 front and rear axles, 33-inch all-terrain tires, FOX shocks, and skid plates throughout the underbody.
Our test vehicle had the 3.6-liter V-6 making 285 horsepower paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The Gladiator easily handled most obstacles when shifted into low-range, though the longer wheelbase compared to the Wrangler meant that we needed to be extra careful on trails with uneven sectors. Unfortunately, we couldn’t drive the Gladiator on road, though we will try to provide highway driving impressions at a later date. A novel characteristic of the Gladiator compared to other compact pickup trucks is the ability to remove body panels like the roof and doors for an open-air driving experience. (The windshield can fold down too.)
At $57,230 for the truck that we drove, the Gladiator Rubicon isn’t inexpensive. However, those looking for a dedicated off-road vehicle with the utility that a pickup provides would the hard-pressed to find it in most other vehicles. (And it helps that the Wrangler holds its value well, something which will no doubt help the Gladiator.) At long last, Jeep has made a vehicle even more desirable than the Wrangler and we won’t be surprised to see it fly off dealers’ lots this year.