The 2020 Jeep Gladiator picks up where the brand’s last cargo-bed-carrying model—the Comanche—left off in the early ’90s. Based on the legendary Wrangler, the truck version pairs a four-door cab with a five-foot box and an obligatory batch of serious off-road equipment. The latter includes large off-road tires, a sturdy suspension, and advanced all-wheel-drive systems. While a diesel-powered V-6 will arrive eventually, only a gasoline version will be available when this truck-ute goes on sale. Still, the 2020 Gladiator represents a unique entry among mid-size pickup trucks. Its unmistakably rugged exterior and removable body panels make it an extremely stylish and versatile mode of transportation.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
Inside, the Gladiator has an upright dashboard that imitates the Wrangler’s and supports user-friendly controls. Durable details include a waterproof push-button start, and there are optional convenience features such as a heated steering wheel and heated front seats. Jeep says the truck’s stretched wheelbase improves back-seat legroom versus the four-door Wrangler. The Gladiator also has body and roof panels that can be easily removed to create an open-air cabin.
Every model has a standard touchscreen, but only the larger 7.0- and 8.4-inch displays come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The stereo system can also be upgraded with an optional subwoofer and portable wireless speaker behind the back seat. Front-seat passengers will be privy to several power points, which include two USBs and a USB-C port; a 115-volt outlet is also available.
Along with its five-foot cargo bed, the Gladiator is filled with ingenious interior storage options. Its cabin has a handful of spots to stick a smartphone and a handy compartment hidden under the back seat. The seats themselves can be stowed in multiple ways and then securely locked in place for when the trail turns treacherous.
Engine, Transmission, Performance, and Towing
The 2020 Gladiator will arrive in dealerships with a 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque routed through a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional eight-speed automatic. We tested an Overland model with the automatic, which needed 7.2 seconds to scoot from zero to 60 mph. In other words, it’s slightly slower than most mid-size pickup truck rivals. The Gladiator will eventually add a diesel 3.0-liter V-6 that develops 260 horses and a mighty 442 lb-ft of twist, but that won’t arrive until 2020. Choose the Max Towing package and it can tow up to 7650 pounds and carry 1600 in the cargo bed, which both closely align with the diesel-powered Canyon and Colorado.
Compared with the regular Jeep Wrangler, the Gladiator is 31 inches longer overall and has an extra 19.4 inches between the front and rear wheels. Not only does this increase interior passenger space, Jeep says it improves the ride and handling when carrying cargo. We’ve driven one and can confirm, well, that it drives much like the Wrangler. This means that the steering isn’t extremely precise and the ride can be busy on uneven surfaces. Still, these characteristics are part of the formula that make the Gladiator both a legitimate pickup truck and a trail-ready tool. Most enthusiasts care about the truck’s off-road equipment anyways, which includes everything from copious skid plates to rock-crawling axle ratios to the ability to ford up to 30 inches of water. Generous ground clearance and approach/departure angles further help the Gladiator conquer parts unknown.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Gladiator has yet to be crash-tested by either the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Otherwise, the Jeep pickup will be available with a handful of driver-assistance features. The Rubicon model has a useful front-facing camera that will come in handy when blazing trails or crawling over rocks. Key safety features include:
Available adaptive cruise control
Available rear cross-traffic alert
Available blind-spot monitor
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