2020 Jeep Gladiator – A New, Old Entry In the Mid-Size Segment

The market for mid-size trucks is very competitive these days. Ford is bringing the Ranger back to the US market and Toyota continues to shine with it’s Tacoma. Now, Jeep is hoping to get in on some of the action by bringing back the Gladiator, which was originally produced from 1962 – 1971. The new 2020 Jeep Gladiator finally made its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show after much anticipation.

The exterior of the Gladiator is quickly recognizable as a Jeep. The front portion of the vehicle is basically a Jeep Wrangler JL, which the Gladiator is based on.  The Gladiator will only come as a four-door crew cab and is built using tons of aluminum. Much like the Jeep Wrangler, the doors on the Gladiator are removable and the windshield will fold flat. A standard Sunrider removable top, and two optional hardtops are also available. Either a body colored top or one that is matte black will be available. The tops all come with Jeep’s Freedom Top panel. The hardtops all have a sliding panel but without the power sliding feature.

Being a truck, it’s important to point out that the bed is made of steel. It is lockable, has rail lighting, and can be stopped in three different positions. Some of the available options are a 400-watt covered outlet, a secure cargo management system, a bed divider, tonneau cover, and a spray-in bed-liner.  The full-size spare is mounted under the bed and the space can hold up to a 35-inch tire.

Jeep has included the Uconnect 3 media system with a 5-inch touchscreen. A 7-inch or 8.4-inch screen with the latest Uconnect 4 system is available as an option. You will need to upgrade to one of the larger systems to get Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and satellite radio. There are two USB ports and one USB-C port upfront. The rear has two additional USB ports.   The interior of the 2019 Gladiator is pretty much a Wrangler starting with the front seats and moving forward. There is an upgraded audio system that includes a removable wireless speaker located behind the rear seats.

The rear seats are a 60/40 folding bench. There are bins located in the floor, which are accessible when the seats are folded. The seats can be locked to prevent access to storage compartments in the cabin wall when the doors are removed. According to Jeep the rear seats will have the most available legroom in the mid-size pickup segment. Trim levels are Sport, Sport S, Overland, and Rubicon.

Powering the Wrangler will be the familiar 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 making 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic are both available. A 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V-6 will be available in 2020. The diesel will only be available with the eight-speed auto and should make 260 horsepower and a hefty 442 pound-feet of torque.

Lesser models will have Command-Trac four-wheel-drive. The Rubicon models will get the Rock-Trac four-wheel-drive system, electronic locking front and rear differentials, and electronic front sway bar disconnects. Towing is rated at 7,650 pounds and max payload is 1,600 pounds with an optional towing package.

As with all vehicles today the Gladiator has a host of safety features.  Some options are blind spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, a forward-facing camera that can detect obstacles during low speed off-roading, and adaptive cruise control.

Pricing for the 2020 Gladiator should start in the $30,000 range and climb well past $50,000. While the Gladiator does look promising, entry level offerings from Toyota, Ford, and Chevy will start much lower. Models will begin delivery in Spring 2019.

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