Auto Show Face-Off: 2020 Jeep Gladiator Vs. 2019 Toyota Tacoma

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The mid-size pickup truck class is getting lots of attention because of two new additions: the 2019 Ford Ranger and 2020 Jeep Gladiator. The all-new returning Ranger is on sale now, but the Gladiator won't go on sale until early spring. The 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit gave us a chance to take a closer look at the long-anticipated Jeep Gladiator dressed in Rubicon trim and compare it to the mid-size pickup sales leader (by a factor of 2 to 1), the 2019 Toyota Tacoma decked out in TRD Pro trim to keep things on an apples-to-apples off-road basis. Once we're able to drive the Gladiator, we hope to do an actual head-to-head test between the two like we did with the Ranger and Tacoma not too long ago.

Related: More 2019 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

While there are myriad ways to compare these two trucks, we're going to focus on the beds to see how they're similar and different. It's worth noting the Tacoma offers multiple cab choices, wheelbases, bed lengths and engines, while the Gladiator offers only one configuration in each of those categories — although there will be a diesel engine option early in 2020.

Here's how the two beds compare.

 

Bed Access

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During the reveal of the Jeep Gladiator, we were told the lead designer wanted to make sure it wasn't difficult for an average person to reach over the bedside to grab anything stored or loaded in the bed. The bed is only 5 feet long but given the 31-inch tall tires (Falken WildPeak 285/70R17), it was easy for our 5-foot, 8-inch colleague Saiorse O'Malley to reach into the bed and touch the bed floor. The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro has smaller tires (Goodyear Wrangler 265/70R16), making it even easier to grab bed gear in the Tacoma's 5-foot bed.

 

Bed Features

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Bed storage strategies in the mid-size class are all over the map, but the Jeep's focus is pretty basic with good LED lighting, a 115-volt (400 watts) three-prong power outlet and three separate bed rails to accommodate cargo tie-down cleats. This allows owners more options for securing their valuables. The Toyota's composite bedliner offers the same kind of rail setup but does not offer a third rail for the back of the bed, limiting its tie-down points. Toyota was the first to offer a weather-sealed three-prong outlet in the bed, and it offers a class-exclusive sidewall cubby for gloves and tools.

 

Rear Suspension

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The suspension strategy for these two pickups is quite different, with the Gladiator using a set of coil springs and control arms to keep the axle located but flexible. The Tacoma offers a more traditional multileaf spring pack that locks the rear axle to the frame. Neither type of suspension offers a lot of payload capacity. Bump stops on both trucks are designed to progressively distribute weight during possible overload situations.

 

Payload Capacity

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The Tacoma TRD Pro we saw in Detroit had 1,000 pounds of payload capacity, according to the federally required label on the driver-side doorjamb. For a mid-size pickup, that's a little on the light side. As to the show-floor Gladiators, they were preproduction models so the doorjamb label lacked that information. Looking at specification information from Jeep, the Rubicon is listed as having a 1,200-pound payload capacity with the manual transmission and 1,160 pounds with the automatic. However, in our experience, manufacturer numbers are usually optimistic. We won't know the Gladiator Rubicon's actual payload until we can take one to a certified truck scale to do our own calculations.

Cars.com photos by Christian Lantry

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Comments

IMO that Jeep as a pickup just looks terrible.

I dont see the tie down bar/track across the front of the bed being a big deal. Im sure there are some situations its nice but typically i have cargo loaded to that location and tie downs that high and anywhere but the front corners would just be in the way.

Little trucks arent about towing or cargo capacity. The Ranger will DESTROY both of these trucks in both of these catagores and almost nobody will care.

The Fiat will have most all of the features, pros, and con that the Wrangler is both loved and hated for (just without water resitant stowage when the top is up). It will be super cool, super fun, an off road beast, easily over accessorized, largely impractical, inefficient, loud, uncomfortable, expensive and did i already say cool? Yea ego feeding level cool. The Taco (and every other little truck) will be much more comfortable and practical and not quite as off road capable nor as cool but better in just about every other way.

I wish they had a proper engine for the Jeep.

The 3.6 and the little 3.0 diesel are junk. back when Jeep had a 4.0 gasser straight six pushrod motor that was solid. Their current engine lineup is embarrassing except for the Hemi and the big Cummins.

The Tacoma is not ready for prime time.

I test-drove the Ranger and then scratched it off the list...

I would take a Chevy Colorado Bison, the doors don't fall off,

Good point on the old 4.0 pushrod I-6, that engine was close to indestructible. For it's day it also offered decent power and fuel economy. It was a bit unrefined, but I'll take reliability over refinement.

Agreed old 4.0L was very reliable but very underpowered. With modern tech could easily make it as reliable as ever with added HP/TQ.

@TNTGMC

Yes, by the time the 4.0 was killed off, it was not competitive power wise with it's competition. I don't remember the power ratings ever changing on the 4.0 from 190 horsepower/220 foot-pounds of torque. Regardless, in the earlier days of the engine, I remember it being competitive power wise, for example, the Toyota pickup in the late 80's/early 90's had a very unreliable 3.0 V-6 that put out a whopping 150 horsepower/180 foot-pounds of torque, and I think even got a little bit lower fuel economy than the Jeep Cherokee 4.0.

@ Texas 1836

Yes, 190hp/220tq on the wrangler were the specs. They could have easily updated the engine, like GM did with the 4.3L a few years back. A jeep wrangler with around 270HP and 300TQ would be a solid, durable, and reliable competitor.

there are a few well respected re-builders who will make you a stroker version of the 4.0 engine at a resonable. They have impressive specs and are built like a bank vault.

Yep, I can attest how solid the 4.0L; my '93 Renegade now with 220 000 miles running on heavy 35/1250/R15 & thrash it on/off-road & doesn't seem to faze it. But I do change the oil/every 10 000-15 000 miles & switched to 100% syn for the last 15 yrs now...

@papa

Those strokers are beasts. Thirsty beasts.
I don’t know, for the price, if I’d do it, or swap another 5.2 into a TJ. ‘01 TJ, ‘01 Ram 5.2 and NV3500, it was much easier than I thought at first. Rubicon 44s and the regular t-case.
Not that the 5.2 sips fuel, but it pulls like a Clydesdale in any gear.

@James

I'm presuming 5.2 is just the metric name for the good old 318ci engine. Back in the 60s and 70s every taxi and cop car seemed to have a 318. Highway patrol cars had the big block motors but the deputies and city patrol cars must have accounted for millions of 318s. I don't know anybody who's building them these days. With a decent cam, good spark management and simple FI it should still be a solid motor.

I'd like to see them take that gladiator down the very trail thats on the side of it's hood with that 135" wheelbase. "Mall Rated" is the badge that should be on the side of that Jeep . The friggin double cab Taco long bed is at 140" and you get an extra foot of bed.

The only true "apples to apples" comparison would be to place the Gladiator against a 70 odd Series Landcruiser ute. Preferably diesel vs diesel.

When the Gladiator arrives in the Land of Off Road, Australia the Gladiator will be put through its paces. If it can't reliably move a couple thousand pounds whilst towing 5000lbs across 1000s of kilometres of desert it will not bode well.

I really believe it will attract a few sales to urbanites who feel the need to project the "hey look at me, I'm cool and outdoorsy". I will place them in the same bucket as Can Hardly Davidson riders.

But it would be great to have a reliable diesel vehicle able to traverse Oz and compete with Toyota Landcruiser.

The only true "apples to apples" comparison would be to place the Gladiator against a 70 odd Series Landcruiser ute. Preferably diesel vs diesel.

When the Gladiator arrives in the Land of Off Road, Australia the Gladiator will be put through its paces. If it can't reliably move a couple thousand pounds whilst towing 5000lbs across 1000s of kilometres of desert it will not bode well.

I really believe it will attract a few sales to urbanites who feel the need to project the "hey look at me, I'm cool and outdoorsy". I will place them in the same bucket as Can Hardly Davidson riders.

But it would be great to have a reliable diesel vehicle able to traverse Oz and compete with Toyota Landcruiser.

Poopajam,
I challenge you regarding nearly all cop cars were 318s.

I can't see GM cop cars not using 307s, 327s and 350s. Ford would of used 302s and 351s.

Your comment is way off the mark. Fake News.

Why would GM and Ford fit Chrysler engines to their cop cars?

Poopajam,
The 4.0 litre fitted to Jeeps were actually AMC engines. Jeep (XJ) initially had a GM V6 fitted. These V6'es were wanting. So, the AMC inline 6 was used. To fit the engine into the tiny XJ engine bay changes were made. The most significant change was the repositioning of the water pump to shorten the length of the engine.

Texas1836,
The 4.0 litre 6 was a good engine for its time. Multipoint sequential fuel injection, great torque curve starting low made it one of the best off road engines of its time.

Believe it or not in 1997 Chrysler went to alloy pistons from cast iron. This reduced peak power, but cranked up torque.

Ozzie:

Let me refer you to Chapter 49 and 50 in the Book of Genesis.

One of the more modern translations is fine, especially if you're not in the habit of Elizabethan diction. Both war and peace are found there, along with many centuries of wisdom and insight. There is a lot for all of us to learn there.

You as well. You have a considerable store of bitterness.

Be sure to honor my suggestion---Let you find comfort there.

Ah, Lou, we miss you!

Poopajim,
I've seen that Star Trek movie Genesis. The only other Genesis is believed by god bother'ers.

More hateful liberal fake news about the TRD Pro while the liberal Jeep gets such praise!

Give me a break!

Ah, Lou, we miss you!...Posted by: Big idiot from Oz | Jan 25, 2019

You phony bastard! You tormented the guy then entire time he was a visitor to the comments section. Your asinine games first prompted him to get a secure log-in, then he finally got disgusted with your drivel and quit the site altogether.

People may be mistaken about wrong and right; most people in some degree are mistaken --- C.S. Lewis

Mr Al from down under,

The great Mr. Lewis wrote the above in the 1940s if I remember correctly. He was wrong about you however. You are wrong all the time. Quite remarkable really.

@papajim

5.2 = 318, but to say a 318 is a 318 is to overlook the long and sorted history of MOPAR from the Poly, La, and Magnum “318”.
‘01 5.2 is a Magnum headed, roller cam, port injected 318, and relatively easy to get the complete package to properly interface within the TJ and use the factory gauges, etc.
why not a 360, or a 340, or a stroker small block? 1) emissions testing, 2) factory replacement parts, 3) reliability. Magnum 5.9 (360 for you, BTW MS-AE, we use SAE) was a torque MONSTER, far more than was rated, especially when tuned properly, and well beyond the safe limits of a NV3500. Buy the TJ, with a 318, can cruise across the country, at any time, any time of year, and even pass an emissions test in California (thankfully not required), it is all legit.

@oxi

Jeep is Liberal, Toyota is Conservative?

Don’t get all pissy because a better OffRoad truck is challenging your overpriced, over valued, under powered, towing nightmare.

Oh...I almost forgot...
So, the common argument for an IFS is that the H1, Oshkosh, etc use IFS/IRS.
The common argument against coil springs in trucks is that leaf springs are HD.

Wait for it...the Oshkosh and H1 use coils.
AND, it is easier to build a progressive coil spring suspension than an IFS that can repeatedly handle fully-locked front axle off road abuse.

Thanks for the update James.

looks like you gave me some food for thought. I'm fan of the more practical aspects of MoPar drivetrain ideas from the 1950s-60s

I realize that today's gearheads are very limited re: the 340. There just were nowhere near as many produced, but with its nice bore/stroke and steel guts it's hard to beat if you have a couple out in the barn.

I think they both look good and that's coming from someone with one of them. You can probably guess which one.

@ James,

Excuse me, the Tacoma is tops in the world in retention of value and lowest ownership costs!

So go ahead and buy the Jeep and spend more time on the side of the road, or broke on the trail and your repair bills.

Toyota's last longer, no debating that unless you are fake liberal media!

Odd that the offroad biased has a rear sway bar. So it's touted as offroader but sold as mall crawler.

@oxi

Enough with your Liberal vs Conservative schtick.
You sound like an idiot because you fail to present a logical and well framed argument, and often go right to the attacks.
As a Constitutional Conservative, of extremely fiscally conservative upbringing, I find your value retention argument to be laughable. If you pay cash and keep the machine a very long time, the value retention is moot as the machine is well past its useful life.

As a farm kid, equipment was cared for, WELL above what the manufacturer recommends, based on what good sense recommends. Oil, filters, and grease are cheaper than parts.
As to Toyota’s lasting longer? In dry climates, pernhaps. But the Japanese have an issue with adequate rust protection and Toyota trucks are kind of known for rusting apart. There was a buy back too, if you recall.

As a guy who bought a 4cyl than put heavier standard springs to carry too much load, you may want to hold off on reliability statements.

I may have put a V8 in a TJ, but at least I made sure it had appropriate axles for the task (DANA 44 front and rear).

@ James,

Can you stop with your racism against 'Japanese' people stating they are inferior!

Both of my Tacoma's are made in the U.S. with American made steel, so it looks like your problem is with American made steel, so please get an education on steel sourcing, called FACTS!

And yes, Toyota trucks will last longer and have lower cost of ownership, again FACTS do not lie! You are quite a liberal ignoring FACTS for made up stuff like global warming or climate change, etc...

Go away with your identity politics. People like you are destroying the truck market to make them more like cars or green machines! Enough!

@oxi

Thanks again for the attacks and proving my point.

To be clear, you haven’t presented any facts, but the truth is Japanese auto manufacturers have always had a problem with rust. That isn’t a racist statement, is is the facts. Don’t like it, argue with the Tacoma frame recall. Or ask someone in the Midwest or Northeast.
Secondly, I never said, nor implied that the Japanese are inferior, you inferred it. That’s on you.

Can you specifically quantify “last longer and have a lower cost of ownership”?

See those are infinitely variable metrics, so to be comparative the parameters of use must be constant.

Your Tacoma isn’t going to outlast a Duramax if the M-Sa job is hauling 1400lbs of masonry block and supplies in the bed.
Nor, will the fuel costs of a 6cyl Tacoma be less than a last gen 4cyl Ranger used to commute 70 miles per day.
How many annual miles traveled? How many miles towing? Etc.
You see you can’t just throw out a random, unqualified statement and expect no one to call you on it.

I do so enjoy your method of argument. Very sophmorish. If someone doesn’t agree with you, they are a liberal. Good plan, way help broaden the appeal of your party.

Since your memory skills are about as good those for debate, perhaps I should remind you that I am a Conservative. Do you know what that is? I am elected to a position in the GOP of my state. I voted 3x to censure 2 well known GOP Senators from my state for Progressive actions. Not only do I not believe in man made climate change, I can prove the statistical impossibility of it with actual uncorrupted scientific data. So can my former professors, at a well known University. You can google “global warming denying academics” and find him.

But, curious you bring that up. You see the East Anglia Data, that which has been used over and over again, is confirmed to have been corrupted. Not singularly, but over and over. Where extreme worst-case models were adjusted to be the norm, resulting the asymptotic curve called the “hockey stick”.
In these arguments, the narrative is controlled and the data false. When called out for it, any dissenting voice is attacked personally, politically, and unceasingly. All from a book called Rules for Radicals. You should read it, you might find out about yourself.

Identity politics...who said “More hateful liberal fake news about the TRD Pro while the liberal Jeep gets such praise!”?
That would be you.

As far as the Truck industry, more competition is better for everyone. I’m a Capitalist and the best part of our Representative Republic is that we are only slightly told what to buy.

You remind me of the old Ridgeline guy Longboat. He used to try and try to convince everyone how awesome the Ridgeline was. He’d argue and try to explain how great they are, just to get a little validation. You’re that way too. What do you care if some folks want to buy a Jeep truck? You won’t buy one, that’s clear. Can you afford one? Maybe Jeep will pressure Toyota to Fox that 3.5 V6 issue.
Unless you want some validation. A pat on the back. An atta boy.

So, here you go Oxi, great job! You bought the best truck for you. For your situation, budget, needs, and desires.

Toyota's pathetic Tacoma-marketing team is humping the 2020 Tacoma as if it's a new model.

They're even passing out some photo-glimpses to whet the appetites of current Tacoma owners who cannot bear to see another picture of a Jeep, Ranger or Colorado without having a new Tacoma photo-spread to dream of.

Sad. I hate the Ford V6 Ecoboost, but a turbo-Tacoma is about the only way for Tacoma fans to get excited about future product possibilities. A bulkly V8 is a non starter and a 2.7 Tacoma turbo might be their best defense.

@papajim

Good observations. The Taco, for all its good points, needs some revision to get to the next level. The 3.5 just isn’t cutting it. I’d prefer a V8, even a Toyota V8 (they are less efficient Oxi), but you’re right, it is a non-starter, unless they downplay the V8 angle. The Toyota V8, 4.6/4.7 what ever the smaller one is, isn’t that big. If you’ve ever seen one next to a 4.0, you’d be surprised. My take away was “why even bother with the 3.5?!” It isn’t that much bigger. The 3.5 just isn’t the 4.0 and everyone knows it, but the diehard fan boys won’t really face it. Worse yet is the smaller V8 is actually pretty equal in fuel economy and emissions, but there is some credit they get for the Atkins cycle. Toyota sells so many sedans that CAFE isn’t an issue, but I really think the V8 eats away at Tundra sales. And there’s the rub. That and V8s are considered gas hogs. Without a diesel Taco or Tundra, which they have (Hino), the Tundra isn’t impacting the Big 3 that much.

Sidebar, both the Toyota smaller V8 and the Nissan V8 fit quite well in their midsized platforms. The risk adverse nature of their companies has prevented the implementation. Anyone remember the V8 Colorado/Canyon? I5 wasn’t cutting it, go big or go home.

A Turbo 4 Tacoma is probably their best bet, but it will still languish in the towing tests. Poor fuel economy will be the biggest complaint. The facts are the GM 3.6 and Pentastar 3.6 are really good engines, even towing. I think the Fiat-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram-Dodge-AMC-Packard-etc did a better job matching gearing and the whole package, but either way Toyota has to do something.
You probably remember the Turbo 4 cyl Toyotas in the 80s. Those and the 20/22R/E Motors were reliable, dead nuts reliable, but they had no power and terrible fuel economy-relative to the power. The 22RE is a neat little engine, like the 2.2 Chrysler, and the 225 Dauntless, but all just didn’t make enough juice.

I’m with you in the EcoBoost. For some reason we use them for the “company” vehicles (I’m out voted) and they aren’t that great. 89 octane empty, in summer time in the SouthWest, 91 is recommended for towing. Peak power is SAE rated with 91 octane, 93 in the Mustang and Lincolns. The fuel economy is pretty dang lousy, unless you are steady state, at 55mph, on flat land. Jimmy Carter would be so proud. They gunk up, all sorts of PCM, BCM issues, I’m not sure I’d buy a Ford with all this tech garbage.

Ultimately, Oxi read this, the pressure from the competition will keep Toyota on their toes. The midsized market is hot as everyone wants a piece of Toyota. Toyota can game-change it, or they can flop around like fish with a less powerful drivetrain.

Anyone remember the V8 Colorado/Canyon?

@James

That generation of Colorados (Canyons, Isuzus, Saabs) there were a whole raft of GM-partnered vehicles built on that platform, even an Olds and Buick SUV. At that time in my little neighborhood regular unleaded was closing on in $4 per gallon. Jobs were hard to find and foreclosures were going up. Lousy time to bring new models to market.

Things are far better now, but I cannot picture Toyota offering a small V8 in the Tacoma for a minute. The Toyota V8 is a very expensive engine with 32 valves, 4 cams, very complex. What they'd give to have a nice 16 valve basic pushrod V8 based on the one they run in Nascar Cup racing. What a truck motor that would make.



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