Is it a Comanche? Is it a Scrambler? No, it’s a Gladiator—Jeep’s new in-house Wrangler pickup. Slated for 2020, the Gladiator fills a void in the brand’s lineup and satisfies enthusiasts who have been asking for such a model for years.
To be clear, this isn’t the first time the brand has produced a pickup—in fact, the name Gladiator was first introduced with a truck in 1963, and was followed by the Scrambler, a Wrangler-based pickup that was released in the eighties. However, it has been more than two decades since Jeep has released a new pickup, and as other brands like Ford and Chevrolet sell unbelievable numbers of them every year, it only makes sense for Jeep to come out with their own version—especially given that the Wrangler continues to be a strong-selling enthusiast vehicle with both on- and off-road ability.
Available only as a four-door midsize format, the Gladiator will come in Sport, Sport S, Overland, and Rubicon trim levels. Carrying the modernized styling of the current-gen Wrangler, the Gladiator retains many Jeep charms, including removable doors and roof panels (and an optional soft-top), impressive off-road capabilities (especially in the Rubicon trim) while adding best-in-class towing of up to 3470 kg and 725 kg of payload capacity.
Engine options include the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 with either an 8-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual and there will be an available 3-litre EcoDiesel V6 option with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Following the format outlined by the current Wrangler, the Gladiator will have the latest version of Jeep’s Uconnect multimedia interface with an in-dash touchscreen display which, for the Rubicon model, can be linked with a forward-facing off-road TrailCam system for monitoring trail condition and obstacles when the road gets rough.
Heavy-duty four-by-four ability is a given, but as you move up the Gladiator range, the specification becomes decidedly more suited for off-roading. The top-spec Gladiator Rubicon comes with wide track axles with locking differentials, 33-inch tires, a disconnecting front sway bar, and Jeep’s aforementioned TrailCam. Jeep has spent decades building the Wrangler’s reputation as a hugely capable and highly customizable off-roading machine, and the Gladiator will benefit both from that technology and a long list of Mopar performance parts for the Gladiator, including additional lighting, lift kits, rock rails, and more—all designed for the Gladiator and backed by a factory warranty.
Recent years have seen increased interest in the Wrangler not only as a lifestyle vehicle, but also as a platform for considerable upgrades and customization, with buyers both young and old modifying their Jeeps as though they were muscle cars or even hot rods. What’s more, the Wrangler has always been a popular enthusiast vehicle for Canadians, who also have a long-standing love for pickup trucks. With this in mind, what is surprising isn’t that Jeep has decided to create the Gladiator, it’s how long it took them to make it a reality.
With the same utilitarian charm that has made the Wrangler a lasting presence on our roads, the Gladiator looks modern, but manages a militaristic vibe that offers a great deal of presence often attributed to more expensive vehicles like the Mercedes G-Class or the Land Rover Defender. Mix that aesthetic with the flexibility of a pickup and the take-the-doors-off ethos of the Wrangler, and the Gladiator looks a lot like the pickup that Jeep fans have been dreaming of for a long time.
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