You wanted it and now it’s here wearing the Rubicon badge. We were told by FCA that the “Gladiator is 100 percent Jeep and 100 percent truck” and it’s the first truck we’ve seen from Jeep since the last Comanche rolled off the line in 1992. Our Rubicon-badged Gladiator came with the familiar 3.6L V-6 and the 850RE eight-speed automatic transmission that we’ve come to know in the JL Wrangler. With a First gear ratio of 4.71:1, the standard NV241OR 4.0:1 Rock-Trac transfer case reduction ratio, and 4.10:1 gears in both Dana 44s, the Gladiator reigned supreme amongst our trucks with a 77.2:1 crawl ratio. Compared to its relative, the JL Unlimited, the Gladiator gained 18.9 inches in wheelbase and 31 inches in the frame, as well as sporting a greater distance between the A-pillar and front axle to keep the articulating axle out of the oil pan. Higher payload and tow ratings come from wide-track, third-gen Advantek-based Dana 44 axles, the rear tubes featuring a beefier ring-and-pinion, 10mmthick axle tubes, and 5-percent-larger brakes. The Gladiator’s rear suspension borrows from the Ram with a five-link design, the shocks are angled forward for better load control, and dual-rate coils can be found in place of the JL’s linear-rate springs.
Ramp and Track
Like we’ve been trained to do on anything with a Rubicon badge, we pushed the button to disconnect the Gladiator’s sway bar, locked the axles, and crawled the Jeep truck to a winning score of 583 points on the ramp. The JT, however, was the slowest truck to run down the track, taking 17.2 seconds to complete the quarter-mile and breaking 60 mph in 9.5 seconds. With the same front brakes as the JL and 13.6x.86-inch single-piston brakes in the rear, the Gladiator screeched its way to a Fifth Place score, going from 60 to nothing in 131.7 feet.
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