For the Gladiator to perform as a proper truck required a new frame that’s stronger and longer than the Wrangler Unlimited’s (by about 80 centimetres). The result is a class-leading tow rating of 3,480 kilograms and a payload rating of 730 kilograms. Photo: FCA

2020 Jeep Gladiator

The take-it-anywhere pickup owes plenty to its Wrangler roots

The four-door Wrangler Unlimited has spawned the Gladiator pickup, a vehicle that delivers a greater degree of utility, from a brand with a history of off-road competency.

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.

From the front, the 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 that’s capable of transporting up to 730 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 3,480 kilograms.

To make the Gladiator, Jeep built a new — and stronger — frame, longer than the Wrangler Unlimited’s by nearly 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 50 centimetres. The result is a smooth visual transition from passenger compartment to pickup bed. The Gladiator doesn’t 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 75 centimetres 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 sliding rear-window is standard for either hard top.

A spray-on bed liner and soft tonneau cover can also be added.

The interior is pretty much a walkover from the other Wranglers, including a colour-keyed dashboard with a myriad of knobs and switches, along with a standard touchscreen 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. Coming later in the model year, however, is a 3.0-litre V-6 turbo-diesel option with 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet. Note that the Wrangler’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine is not available.

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

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

Four-wheel-drive is standard, with two systems available, depending on the model. Command-Trac, which comes with Gladiator Sport and Overland trims, 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 trim starts at $47,400, including destination charges. It comes reasonably well turned out, but you’ll need to pony up a few more dollars for the Overland trim to get power windows and door locks, push-button start, side steps, all-terrain rubber 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 18-inch wheels (17s are standard).

As well as the available hard tops, the options list includes leather-trimmed seats, nine-speaker Alpine stereo and all available active-safety technology, such as autonomous emergency braking and blind-spot warning.

Early indications are that the Gladiator will be a smash hit, even though it’s priced as premium player in the midsize pickup category. A premium player with pedigree and unrivaled off-road experience, that is.

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 wait for the turbo-diesel if more torque is needed. • Active-safety technologies should really be standard.

Active 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) $47,400

BY COMPARISON

Ford Ranger SuperCrew 4×4

Base price: $37,650

New 2019 model marks the return of the Ranger name, but in a midsize format.

GMC Canyon Crew Cab 4×4

Base price: $35,500

Great style, roomy interior and an available 308-horsepower V-6.

Toyota Tacoma SR5 4×4

Base price: $42,500

Midsize companion to the Tundra comes with a full array of active-safety tech.

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, visit TodaysDrive.com!

-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

The Gladiator’s rear seating can hold three adventuresome individuals, although its optimized for two. Photo: FCA

The standard engine is the 285-horsepower 3.6-litre V-6. A new turbo-diesel is optional and offers nearly 200 pound-feet more torque. 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

Just Posted

Penticton Fire Department urging caution with decorations

The Penticton Fire Department wants people to be careful with indoor and outdoor decorations

Christmas comes to Penticton through Children’s Showcase

The Christmas production of the Children’s Showcase takes place Dec. 15 at the Cleland Theatre.

PET OF THE WEEK: Tweety just wants some love

Cat now lives at Critteraid in Summerland and seeks a new home

Historical Society branch works to preserve Summerland history

Names proposed for roundabouts to honour local heritage

NeighbourLink Summerland coordinates Christmas dinner matchup

This Christmas will be sixth annual community event

VIDEO: ‘Climate emergency’ is Oxford’s 2019 Word of the Year

Other words on the shortlist included ‘extinction,’ ‘climate denial’ and ‘eco-anxiety’

Three cops investigated in connection to ex-Vancouver detective’s sexual misconduct

Fisher was convicted in 2018 after pleading guilty to kissing two young women who were witnesses in a criminal case

Violence response procedures updated for B.C. schools, police

ERASE program expands to target gangs, bullying of students

A pawsitive ending: Missing puppy found after nine-day search in Chilliwack

Pit bull Frankie ran from dog sitter booked through app

Man gets 18 months jail for dealing heroin, fentanyl in Vernon

Sung Hwan Choi, 23, found guilty of trafficking drugs from Lower Mainland in May 2019

Letter: Spouse of Shuswap first responder shares challenges, gratitude

One in three first responders suffer in silence, resources available to help them and their families

Kelowna to host 2021 Tim Hortons Brier

The last time Kelowna hosted the tournament was in 1968

Federal laws at heart of West’s anger up for debate, as Liberals begin outreach

Vancouver mayor to Trudeau’s western critics: ‘Get over yourselves’

Snowboard pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter dies at 65

He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011

Most Read