2020 Jeep Gladiator: Inside, Outside and Underneath

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Competes with: Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma

Looks like: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Drivetrains: 285-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 (260 pounds-feet of torque); 260-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 (442 pounds-feet of torque); six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission; four-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Early spring 2019

The long-awaited return of an all-new Jeep pickup truck more than 10 years in the making is finally here. Revealed today at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, like the Ford Ranger, was a late comer to the slowly growing mid-size pickup class.

Related: More 2018 L.A. Auto Show Coverage

A clever and efficient pickup, the Jeep Gladiator is based almost entirely off the popular four-door Jeep Wrangler SUV. There is no mistaking that this is a Jeep pickup, which is exactly what designers had to do, but is the Gladiator meant to be more Jeep than pickup truck or more pickup than Jeep? The answer is in the details.

Exterior

From the outside, the answer is simple: The Jeep Gladiator is a Wrangler pickup. The front grille, bumpers, headlight design, trapezoidal wheel openings and hood are all identical to the SUV, and from our point of view, that's a good thing, especially since these two vehicles are built on the same production line. The only significant change to the Gladiator foundation is that the wheelbase has been lengthened by 20 inches to close off the crew-cab cabin behind the rear passenger seats to mount a 5-foot all-steel pickup bed over the rear axle. For additional weight savings, the doors, hinges, hood and fenders are made from high-strength aluminum.

Interior

Jeep enthusiasts will feel right at home inside the Gladiator as the driver's position and access to vehicle information and controls are similar, if not identical, to the Wrangler Unlimited setup. There's large navigation screen at the top of the center console; climate and audio controls are below along with four-wheel-drive switches and levers. It finishes with cupholders and the transmission shifter falling easily to the driver's hand. Vehicle and entertainment information is delivered on most trim levels via a 3.5-inch screen or 7-inch LED display in the instrument cluster along with a 7-inch nav screen or 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen in the center console. A 5-inch touchscreen is standard on the base model.

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Depending on which of the four — Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon — trim levels you select, material choices will vary. We spent a good amount of time in the Overland and Rubicon models, and both are well-done with textured and soft-touch surfaces at the elbows and other touch points, and sturdy knobs and selector switches in the center console. The backseat of the crew cab has firm, functional seating with seatbacks that flip down to fold flat. The seat bottoms also flip up to take advantage of the flat-load floor, which, of course, can be optioned with modular, lockable storage.

Under the Hood and Body

As important as the interior and exterior look of the truck is, this new mid-size pickup player will be judged by what's underneath the body and hood. Engine choices are no surprise: The base Gladiator engine will be Jeep's all-aluminum 24-valve 285-horsepower, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 (260 pounds-feet of torque) and the 260-hp, 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 (442 pounds-feet of torque) will be an option in 2020. The gas V-6 will, across the model lineup, use the D478 six-speed as the standard transmission with the 850RE eight-speed automatic the optional choice with 3.73:1 gears for Sport, Sport S and Overland trims, and 4.10:1 gears for Sport Max Tow and Rubicon. All EcoDiesels will get the eight-speed. Likewise, it will be offered with two transfer cases: the NV241 Command-Trac with a 2.72:1 low-range ratio or the NV241OR Rock-Trac with the rock-crawling 4.00:1 low-range ratio. All this impressive gearing on the Rubicon trim allows for an impressive 84.2:1 crawl ratio (meaning you can creep very slowly to navigate over extremely tough terrain) combined with more than 11 inches of ground clearance and 30 inches of fording depth for river crossings.

As you might expect, the front and rear axles are also the same live-axle setup used on the Wrangler, with third-generation five-lug Dana 44s and an open (Sport, Sport S and Overland) or limited-slip differential (Rubicon) for the front axle and a limited-slip (Sport or Overland) or electronic locking differential (Rubicon) for the rear axle. The suspension for the Gladiator is also familiar, with a coil/link and a Panhard rod setup for both front and rear live axles. Newly designed monotube shocks are used on all trims with special high-performance Fox aluminum shocks reserved for the Rubicon.

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Although these are the same five-lug axles used on the lighter-duty Wrangler SUV, Jeep engineers have upgraded the shafts and splines to give them more strength for the extra payload and towing capabilities needed for a pickup. Gladiator braking has not been beefed up when compared to the Wrangler Rubicon, offering the same 12.9-inch rotor and twin-piston disc brakes for the front and 13.6-inch rotor and single-piston setup for the rear.

The Bed

As to the business end of the vehicle, Jeep engineers have included some thoughtful in the bed design. Under-rim LED lighting and sturdy D-ring tie-downs give the bed area night-and-day functionality. To accommodate pickup owners who will carry motorcycles or bicycles in the bed, the tailgate's 5-foot bed has a multilatch system that allows for partial opening to accommodate short and long toys as well as awkwardly shaped items. All Gladiators will be offered with a factory spray-in bedliner.

Capacities

As to important specification numbers, most Gladiators will have a 5,800-pound gross vehicle weight rating with Rubicon models getting heavier-duty rear springs that bumps their GVWR to 6,250 pounds. This translates to a payload capacity ranging from a maximum of 1,600 pounds (for the Sport 3.6-liter V-6 with the six-speed manual and 3.73:1 gears) to 1,105 pounds (for the Sport 3.6-liter V-6 with the eight-speed automatic and 3.73:1 gears or the Rubicon 3.6-liter V-6 with the eight-speed auto and 4.10:1 gears). Interestingly, the Gladiator with the highest payload capacity — the Sport — will be the one with the lowest trailering capacity at just 4,000 pounds. And the vehicle with the highest towing capacity (the Sport Max Tow at 7,650 pounds) has a 1,535-pound payload capacity and the highest gross combined weight rating at 12,800 pounds (that's the one we want to test first).

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Jeep Gladiator's Place in the Market

There are plenty of questions about how the 2020 Jeep Gladiator will fit into the mid-size pickup truck class. For now, Jeep is not offering longer wheelbases to accommodate a longer bed or even an extended-cab model that could offer a longer, usable bed length — but Honda doesn't either. That seems curious to us and so do the five-lug axles, especially for any truck in the mid-size class. All the Gladiator's competitors have six-lug axles. The coil springs also raise a question given our experiences towing with the Ram 1500 and Honda Ridgeline, but a good max tow package could assuage our fears once we get more time behind the wheel.

Related: 2020 Jeep Gladiator: More Than a Wrangler Pickup

Still, just imagining a Jeep Gladiator Rubicon alongside a new Ford Ranger Raptor, Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison or all-new Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro has us drooling. Some day. One thing is for certain: The mid-size section of the pickup truck world will not be boring for many years to come. Viva la truck wars!

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Comments

Yet another great midsize player. Can't wait for the midsize showdown thats sure to come once this and the ranger become available. Pro4x, Zr2, TRD-Pro, FX4 & Rubicon!

Did i read that correct, no front locker on the Rubicon version?? only LSD on front?

I like the looks of the new Ranger the best, for an all around truck it seems to be the most complete package. But I think the designers did a great job on this, keeping the look and feel of a Jeep and still incorporating a bed. It's lines flow really well, and it does not look like a tacked on bed like the GM twins have. They are hitting the market with this at the perfect time since the Jeep has gained a huge following again recently.

LSD is ok. Did a bunch in the late sixties.

38.3 inches of rear leg room.
Best in class available towing
the only midsize with a front solid axle
the only midsize convertible pickup (The only convertible pickup).
I am aware that it's not for everyone, But it makes a great case for itself.

So is the bed really separate or is it a fake crease like the Ridgeline.

uh huh
the bed is a legitimate bed. Its not like the ridgeline.

Looks so disproportioned.

IMO, it goes Ranger, then the GM midsize in looks. This thing is, all bc of that tiny box, looks wack

Cool little truck, more useful than the Wrangler. As far as looks, the Canyon is the best looking if all mid sizers. Ranger a close second( looks the same as Colorado). The Jeep will sell, but is a niche market.

My kind if truck! Blows the doors off the Ranger, F-150, Colorado and Silverado.

7700 lbs max towing on GMC Canyon & Chevrolet Colorado

7700 is more than 7600 of the Gladiator

Best in class towing belongs to Chevrolet/GMC in midsize trucks.

Limited Slip

They're claiming best in class for gasoline engines.
Yes, the GM twins are good for another 100 lbs in diesel spec, But when it comes to gas burners, the Jeep has the most available towing.
Given the direction Jeep is headed I would assume that when the eco-diesel enters the mix it will give the GM twins some competition.

The Ford F-150 Hybrid has been announced.

450 HP and 600 lb foot of torque.

Looks like Ford is giving up on efficiency and just going for power.

That is exactly what engineers do when they just are not good engineers.

More of the same from Ford.

When are they going to figure out efficiency AND power?

Maybe never.

This new Jeep truck will be a dream-come-true for the aftermarket vendors.

Step 1: offer a true locking diff for the front axle.
Step 2: Wheels/tires
Step 3: premium shocks
Step 4: aftermarket roots blower w/blessings from FCA for the 3.6

Nothing wrong with the standard set-up but this is a truck dying to get out in the rough stuff and the mud.

Very exciting.

Thats not a truck this is a truck (pans to GM, Ford, Ram, toyota, nissain)

Bed too short for me. I like to use a "pickup" for hauling.

Great unique addition to the class. Good powertrains , unique looks, offers stuff no other in the class has (convertible , removable doors etc)....well done.

Surprised it doesn't offer a locker front diff.

ZR2 should still be the off road king with its shocks and front locker that no other can touch in the class yet....

Glad He Ate Her should be a solid truck .......

Not going to lie, with the top open and all four doors off it sure looks fun.

It does look fun. With the top off, three youngsters can stand in the back and hang on. Reminds me of a time when we did stuff like that. Now, I rather just take the dirt bike or mountain bike off road with out the risk of the truck rolling on top of us. I think the new VM will have 260hp/442lf. That's about 20/20 better than the outgoing version. 38.3" rear legroom does look to be the biggest for midsize, so they have moved the needle there too. It looks like rear seat tie downs are accessible for securing things in the bed when the rear window is removed. That's a new one that could be very useful. Now, if they moved the cab forward 10" and added a 12" longer bed option, that would surely be a midsize with full-size amenities.

Not much of a surprise with the final design so not sure if I will replace my current trucks with this (Ranger & Lightning) & Ranger Raptor on oder. I'm also keeping my fully modified/upgraded '93 WJ with 4" lift...will wait for test results how this performs next to the others in the marker.....

This is such a mixed bag. The good... its a wrangler. The bad but with an open back... The Good, that you can get the V6 eco diesel in which will also FINALLY be available in the Wrangler. Guess the good idea fairy finally woke up over at Fiat. The bad, but not with the Wrangler's 4cyl. The Good, a little pretend truck you can get a manual transmission with a V6. The Bad, autos only if you want the torquey diesel for the serious stuff. The Good, the tops and doors come off. The Bad, its gonna be noisy and leak like all wranglers. The Good its got all the weirdness Jeep fans love. The Bad its got all the weirdness the rest of us don't know/get/like/care about/want. The good, itll have lots of cool/fun points. The bad, mediocre build quality. The good, will hold resale value. The bad, will cost an arm and leg new and used. All pretty typical Fiat Wrangler stuff really.

It will sell. Unless they jack up the price too far.

When GM puts the Silverado's new 4cylinder turbo in the Colorado/Canyon-they will dominate this segment.

Not exactly exciting too many people in Australia because it is s Jeep( not renowned for reliability ), a gas engine and a limited payload

Jeep's always been weird. But that's what makes it so fun and clearly differentiated. Dakota will not be weird.

I'm for differentiation by carving out a new midsize segment that's more full-size through cab forwardness. Midsize is too un-utilitarian by the really short bed. And being full blood Italian, I'm like Marchionne, ahead of the curve.

Angelo

How about telling us a new story.

Every comment you make is about cab-forward designs. Chrysler has been beating that drum for damn near 30 years. It's old. Seriously. How about a story regarding valvetrain design or fuel injection or tires or something. Just give the wheelbase a break. Better yet, get a house with a longer garage.

Having a big garage is like having a beautiful wife, but you have more room to play with your tools and saws and drills and...

Some bad info in the article. Jeep.com can help

The Rubicon has Electric lockers front and rear, along with 4:1 low range and the disconnecting sway bar.
The front is locked or open, the rear is limited slip or locked.
Short leaf springs limit suspension travel. Long coil springs provide a complaint ride, exceptional travel, and the progressive rate of coils allows greater capacity over short leaf springs.
The 5 lug wheel thing...okay, obviously the author doesn’t get it, so, whatever. Jeep dude. It’s a Wrangler based Jeep. It has 5 lugs. Get over it.
The non-Rubicons get a DANA 30 Advantek up front, the Rear Axles (and front on diesels and Rubicons) are DANA 44 Advanteks. Gears and lockers are available.
The overal length will be close to the Tacoma. Jeep essentially used the TACO TRD and TRD PRO as the benchmark.
Anyway, Rubicon still has lockers front and rear.
For Sport MaxTow buyers, a front locker will set you back about $2k installed.

Hummer H3T was ahead of it's time.

GM is winner for class leading towing capability midsize trucks.

And when the diesel shows up on Jeep the tow rating will be 500 lbs or so less than the gas version due to cooling limitations.

And don't expect to see the turbo 4 in Jeep pickup. It runs hot.

Yuppie vehicle alert!

A regular Jeep with a bed, boring!

Solid axle front is so 1970's. When the military no longer wants solid front axles, why should you?

I will keep my two Tacoma's!

@oxi

This truck will cause a real ripple for the aftermarket guys who so love the Tacoma. Properly rigged up, this truck will blow the doors off the Taco dude.

"I will keep my two Tacoma's"
Posted by: oxi | Nov 30, 2018 5:49:04 AM

Great point oxi why sell your Tacoma's? I mean you must have very low millage on them with all those recalls. How many recalls have there been on the Tacoma...what is it 50 or 60?

And who can forget the famous frame rust problems...but this is far from the first time Toyota has dealt with rust on its pickup trucks. The company fixed many frames and even expanded its rust perforation warranty on 1995-2000 Toyota Tacomas. That warranty covered over 800,000 trucks. Toyota also had to issue a recall for 2001-2003 Tundras for frame rust.

As many as 225,000 steel frames under Toyota Tacoma and Tundra pickups and Sequoia SUVs may need to be replaced, says a lawyer who helped settle a class-action lawsuit against Toyota over the frames' potential for rusting.

Good news is that the repair is an expensive, labor-intensive process that requires nearly the complete disassembly of the vehicle. The proposed legal settlement could cost Toyota as much as $3.4 billion for the repairs, according to court documents.

Lest we forget....the electrical circuitry in the steering wheel assembly may become damaged recall, the seal between the rear differential and the axle housing could degrade recall, oil could leak from the rear differential recall to name a few!

But Oxi I sure once all the recall and rust issues are resolved, you can enjoy the pokey base engine, old interior, and pricey in top trims...lol
Middling fuel economy
Drum brakes?


Nobody is talking about front seat room! Hopefully a man size guy such as myself... 6'4" 250, will be able to fit in it! May have to hope for a full size version.

Or they might be partnering with Weight Watchers and giving you a few month of WW meetings!

Seriously, consider a half ton 4x4 with the low gears. I'm 6-2 and squeezing into a Ridgeline or a Ranger does not sound like fun. Even worse is the Tacoma.

A short-wheelbase regular cab 4x4 should work great. Let us know!

WW? Dude.. I'm built solid like a pro athlete! Seriously... was commenting on a Gladiator not a half ton something else. I'm just hoping that this truck isnt another one of this generations Beta Male mobiles! Lol.. I'll let you know.

Oxi must be worried about this new Gladiator truck otherwise why would he constantly attack it. I agree that once the aftermarket gets hold of this truck will blow the doors off of the others.

Hey Scott.

No offense intended. My younger brother is super fit and kicks a*s in the gym and he's 200lbs. No fat.

If you're packing an extra 40-50 pounds it better be shoulders, back and chest. Otherwise, it's WW for you.

Either way, squeezing your 6.4 self into a mid-size is no fun, unless it's got some kind of convertible top.



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