Get In The Ring
Motor Trend|May 2019
Get In The Ring

Jeep Enters The Midsize Pickup Fray.

Christian Seabaugh

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is many things—the latest in a revitalized midsize pickup segment, the first pickup from Jeep since the early ’90s, and the only convertible truck on the market. But the one thing it isn’t, according to those responsible for creating it, is a Jeep Wrangler with a bed bolted to the back.

Given the amount of design and engineering work that went into creating the 2020 Gladiator, I get it. But the Wrangler is the MotorTrend 2019 SUV of the Year, so I don’t think being a Wrangler with a bed is really such a bad thing.

Just as much separates the Gladiator from the Wrangler as connects it. About half of the Gladiator’s parts are shared with the Wrangler—including doors, front fenders, the front half of the cabin, its standard 285-hp 3.6-liter V-6, and the soon-to-arrive 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 with 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. The Gladiator’s standard six-speed manual (gas engine only), eight-speed automatic, and Command-Trac and Rock-Trac four-wheel-drive systems are also shared. The Wrangler’s optional turbo-four will not migrate to the Gladiator.

The other half is where the Gladiator gets real interesting. The Wrangler Unlimited’s platform is stretched to make room for a 5-foot steel bed. The rear axle gets shuffled 18.9 inches rearward in a compromise Jeep says best balances looks, tow/haul performance, and off-road capability. Behind the rear axle— which Jeep says is based on the 2019 Ram 1500’s coil-link rear end—the Gladiator stretches to a total length of 218.0 inches. That makes it the longest and roomiest pickup in its class. Jeep also upped the diameter of the solid front and rear Dana 44 axles and fit a higher-wattage fan behind the slightly larger front grille to increase cooling capability.

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May 2019