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What is the Jeep Gladiator & What Does It Bring to the Table?

The Jeep Gladiator is FCA's modern iteration of the Jeep truck. Such a truck has seen numerous renditions over the years, approximately 45 years’ worth of iterations. After all, Jeep produced a truck platform from 1947-1992. Trucks aren’t at all new to Jeep, but the Gladiator is a fresh take on a tried and true idea. The JT brings with it the obvious and not so obvious similarities from the JL Wrangler as well as its own features. We’ve split these features into specific categories, but let’s take a look at some quick, fun facts about the Jeep Gladiator.

 

Like all Jeep vehicles, the Gladiator shares the seven-bar grille. The Gladiator also shares the round headlights from the JL Wrangler, and a unique set of rectangular rear tail lights jut out from the truck bed. The windshield is still foldable and is constructed of aluminum to make the whole process easier. The JT is even built in the same Toledo plant as the Wrangler. However, considering the Gladiator has a five-foot bed, it requires a different frame. The JT Gladiator’s frame is indeed 31 inches longer than a four-door Wrangler, and the wheelbase is an additional 19.4 inches. With this level of girth comes additional weight as well. The Gladiator is 400 pounds heavier than a Wrangler

Standout Exterior Features of the Jeep Gladiator

Needless to say, the most interesting aspect of the Gladiator is the truck bed, and there’s a lot to see. All Gladiators will be crew cabs, that is to say four-door cabs with a truck bed. Both the bed and the main body are steel whereas the hood, fenders, doors, windshield frame, and tailgate are aluminum. Certain submodels have an external, 115-volt outlet in the bed, perfect for camping gear, power tools, air compressors, and whatever else you can think of. The outside rim of the bed features tie down rails. The tie down anchors themselves slide within the rails for versatility in securing your cargo. You may also notice the bed liner that’s against the cabin holds an easter egg. Albeit a five-bar rather than a seven-bar grille silhouette.

 

Underneath the back of the body are metal bars to protect the bumpers in the case of a steep departure of an obstacle. If you thought the Gladiator was simply the rugged hauling cousin of the Wrangler, think again. FCA integrated a number of features to make their best in class towing truck just as capable off-road. The Gladiator has one forward facing and one rear facing camera (mostly for the safety features such as emergency braking, and parking assist), and the Rubicon has a dedicated front facing trail camera, angled to view obstacles two feet or closer to your bumper.

 

We’ve mentioned the folding windshield, but the aluminum doors are also removable for an open-air feel. Hardtop Gladiators are 3-piece hardtops, appropriately named the Freedom top, and you can remove each panel as if you had stripped your Wrangler. On the back end, the third brake light is part of the tailgate handle for maximum visibility and the tailgate has a half-open position by tucking the cable under the designated hook.

How is the Jeep Gladiator’s Drivetrain Different from the Wrangler?

To start with, all Gladiators come standard with the third generation, Dana 44 axles, and the Command-Trac and Rock-Trac 4x4 systems return. Both systems split torque between the front and rear axles when the transfer case is locked, say in 4-high. The neutral position retains the ability to be flat towed without removing the driveshafts. The main difference between the two is in 4-lo. The Rock-Trac system has a numerically higher gear ratio than the Command-Trac, giving it more torque in off-roading scenarios and for the ultimate in low speed crawling capabilities. The Rock-Trac system is exclusive to the Rubicon Wranglers, and the same is true for the Gladiators. That’s right; there’s a Rubicon Gladiator which we’ll get into later. The Trac-Lok and Tru-Lock differential systems are also available on the Gladiator.

What Engines are Available with the Jeep Gladiator?

There will be two engine options in 2020, but the 2019 models will only be available with the 3.6L Pentastar V6. In 2020, Gladiators will have the option for a 3.0L EcoDiesel V6. Both engines have FCA’s ESS system (Engine Stop-Start) and the eight-speed automatic transmission. The Pentastar, however, can have the 6-speed manual transmission. FCA claims the Pentastar in the Gladiator is 6% more efficient than its predecessors, and it makes 285 HP and 260 ft-lbs of torque. The EcoDiesel, while sporting less horsepower (260), features 442 ft-lbs of torque.

Will the Jeep Gladiator have a Hard Top or Soft Top?

Both! All sub-models will come standard with a black, sunrider soft top, but there is the option of 3-panel hardtop. The soft top is electronically controlled, so you don’t have any zippers to deal with like on the older Wranglers. On the hardtop models, the rear truck window is part of the hardtop. There’s a small square cut window in the bigger truck window, your only means of rear ventilation aside from removing the panel completely. FCA claims the Gladiator is the only open-air, mid-sized 4x4 pickup on the market, and their claims are certainly well founded.

What Does the Interior of the Jeep Gladiator Look Like?

In short, the Gladiator’s interior is identical to the JL Wrangler interior. The Gladiator will be compatible with Apple Carplay and Android Auto through FCA’s fourth-generation U-connect system. The touchscreen has two size options: 7 inches and 8.4 inches. Like your smartphone, pinching and zooming is still a thing with the Gladiator’s touchscreen.

 

Unique to the Gladiator is a detachable Bluetooth speaker. The intention is if you take your Gladiator overlanding or camping, you can charge the speaker while making the drive, and have your playlists with you while setting up camp or enjoying the scenery.

 

Another feature outside of the infotainment and audio systems is the roomy back seats (which fold down of course) and the locking storage behind them. Each Gladiator comes with a couple of locking storage compartments. Behind the seats, and if you fold the seats up and out of the way, you’ll find another lockable space to keep your valuables. What better way to keep smaller items safe and free up space in the cabin?

How Much Weight Can the Jeep Gladiator Tow?

So what does best in class towing get you? At the maximum, you get to haul 1,600 lbs in the bed and 7,650 lbs on a trailer. This means you can easily tow your friend’s JL should they run into trouble, among a number of other vehicles. Boats, trailers, etc. Remember the 7-bar slots in the bed liner? Slots 1 and 7 pair with the indents over the tires to better secure dirt bikes. If you’re feeling rather spiffy, you could take your family on an off-roading trip complete with a set of dirt bikes in the bed and an ATV or two on a trailer. The possibilities are endless.

Exactly How Off-Road Capable is the Jeep Gladiator?

In terms of sheer off-roading prowess, you’ll be wanting to reach for the Rubicon. Without question. That doesn’t make any of the other submodels less than ideal. Each Gladiator, like every Wrangler, is put through FCA’s rigorous trail rating test. Like every Wrangler before it, each Gladiator sports the trail rated badge. With the longer truck frame and wheelbase, you’ll have to be more conscience of your approach and departure angles. The Rubicon’s trail camera will assist there, and the Rubicon actually sits higher than its other Gladiator brethren.

 

We’ll get to the hard numbers differing the submodels in a minute, but one fun fact to throw out here is you have 30 inches of water fording capability. Throw your trusty yard stick in the back, and you’ll be crossing rivers, creeks, and small ponds whenever you want. Just be sure to give your Gladiator’s underside a thorough wash afterwards.

 

The main difference between the Gladiator and the JL Wrangler is the Gladiator’s five-point suspension. Like the JL, you’ll still have the option of electronic sway bar disconnects, electric lockers, and the trusty Dana 44 axles come standard. The Gladiator, however, to account for towing capabilities now features a different control arm and spring perch setup. That being said, suspension parts between the two Jeeps won’t be interchangeable.

Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Details

By far the most exciting of the four submodels, the Rubicon is where most of us will end up. The sheer amount of off-roading features alone make this model worth it. Unique to the Rubicon are:

 

  • 10 gears
  • Rock-Trac trans with an 84:1 crawl ratio
  • Fox 2.0 shocks (proprietary to the Gladiator)
  • Tru-Lock electronic front and rear lockers
  • Electronic sway bar disconnects
  • High clearance fenders
  • 33” tires
  • Steel rock rails
  • Steel bumpers with removable end caps
  • Functional vents in the hood
  • Off-road information in the infotainment unit
  • Forward facing trail camera
  • High speed off-road setting
  • 5” aluminum wheels
  • Hardtop or soft top
  • 1,160 lb payload
  • 7,000 lb towing

 

The high speed off-road setting is intended for 55 mph or less on dirt and sand. This is a first in terms of Jeep, and for those of you beach goers, this setting can be used and abused. When you engage this mode the computer keeps the front sway bar connected, unlocks the front diff, and locks the rear diff for maximum stability and traction on loose terrain at speed. As far as actual ground clearance numbers go:

 

  • Approach angle: 43.4 degrees
  • Breakover: 20.3
  • Departure: 26
  • Body width: 73.8 inches
  • Height: 74.1
  • Length: 218
  • Ground Clearance: 11.1
  • Wheelbase: 137.3 inches

Jeep Gladiator Sport, Sport S, & Overland Details

Every model aside from the Rubicon have minor differences between them. The Gladiator Sport, as expected, is the bare basics model of JT. The Sport S is a nicer version of the Sport, and the Overland is the luxury model of Gladiator. The Sport S’s main creature comforts are the 115-volt in bed outlet and you’ll have a premium soft top option. The Overland offers larger, 18” aluminum wheels, a color matching hardtop, side steps, color matching fenders, and a leather-trimmed interior. The Overland does have a reduced towing capacity at 6,000 lb, however. Instead of the 4.10, these three models house 3.73 gears but still retain the Dana 44 axles. All three also have the same off-roading numbers:

 

  • Approach Angle: 40.8 degrees
  • Breakover Angle: 18.4
  • Departure Angle: 25
  • Height: 1 inches
  • Ground Clearance: 10

 

Where the Rubicon is an off-road dedicated machine, the other three submodels have a greater focus on street driving and towing. The Sport and Sport S, for example, have a payload of 1,600 lbs and towing at 7,650 lbs. Quite the difference from the Rubicon. If you’re planning on sticking to more highway adventures, the Sport, Sport S, and the Overland are where you’re going to want to spend your money. Choose the Overland for a luxury Gladiator designed for simple camping adventures, and choose the Sport or Sport S for heavy lifting and hauling needs.

 

  • 3.73 gears
  • Command Trac 4x4 system
  • Soft top standard (Sport, Sport S)
  • Color matching exterior parts (Overland)
  • 5” steel wheels (Sport)
  • 5” aluminum wheels (Sport S)
  • 5” aluminum wheels (Overland)