A Few of My Favorite Things…About The Jeep Gladiator
What did I like about the all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator? After experiencing three different trims of the 4WD four-door Wrangler pickup on a day-long drive that took us over more than 200 miles of pavement and on a technical, rock-and-mud strewn off-road track, the answer is- more than I could have ever imagined!
It has been 27 years since there has been a Jeep truck in the U.S. Long-awaited by Jeep enthusiasts and other mid-sized truck buyers looking for something truly new laden with talent and technology for everyday motoring and 4×4 adventure, I too was a fan of the concept. After all, the last everyday vehicle I owned was a 4WD Jeep Cherokee that I sold in 1994.
As a full-time automotive journalist and a member of the “car-a-week” club, I simply didn’t need an auto of my own. Plus, I couldn’t turn down the 1951A Willys truck I spied in a farm field in northern California with an $850 “For Sale” sign nearly two decades ago. After some restoration, I sold it. Since, I am often thinking of what I will buy when the time comes for me to own another vehicle. Gladiator is now on the list of considerations!
Here’s 24 things I love about the 2020 Jeep Gladiator… and there’s More!
1. Jeep says it’s unique—and it is! Almost every week, I hear a manufacturer
say their vehicle is “unique”. Very few are. Gladiator is in an ever-growing
segment…and it’s a Class of One.
2. Gladiator-come on, admit it! It’s a killer name. Derived from the times
when heathen folks fought each other and wild animals with weapons in an
arena. Jeepers and 4WD enthusiasts might say it’s a weapon to fight the
wilds and wild things in the lands where the pavement ends to give you the
assurance that you can be a winner–to make it back home safely.
3. I love its looks-who wouldn’t rubber-neck when you see the Jeep pickup for the first
time? There is nothing like it on the road. It’s like seeing Willys/Jeep
heritage shape-sorted and sprung to life with modern sheet metal. Can you
4. Pharrell Williams would love its “room without a roof!” Three styles—hard
top, soft top, and open top motoring with incredibly easy-to-remove roofs
and protection for the electrical bits that would be left blowin’ in the wind.
5. The windshield folds down with the easy release of 4 bolts and doors can be
removed- Jeep says in 3 and ½ minutes! Dozens of different configurations.
6. Rubber and Wheels: Aggressive 33-in. tires – wheel well can
accommodate 35s and spare tire carrier can hold a 35!
7. It looks tough and it is. Impressive angles of approach and departure, tow
hooks, a 7-slot front grille that has more room between the slots for
improved engine cooling, especially for towing. Integrated rock rails and
8. 11 inches of ground clearance and 30 inches water-fording on Rubicon
trim (10 on others): Think you won’t be doing any stream crossings and
don’t need that? Ask the folks in Ohio, Nebraska, South Dakota, Arizona,
Mississippi and Texas along with other areas of the country that don’t plan on
being steam crossers what’s happened in their lives when there’s been a
disaster and unplanned-for flooding! Notable: vulnerable under-hood
components are water-protected.
9. Three trims-Sport-$33,545 (and Sport S-$36,745); Overland ($40.395)
and Rubicon ($43,545) plus 1$1,494 destination. Auto tranny is $2,000.
10. Special unique-trimmed Launch Edition version available on Jeep 4×4
day -April 4th on Jeep.com; 4,190 will be sold through a “concierge pre-order
experience”. Production number chosen as a nod to Toledo, Ohio, where it’s
built. These buyers can enter Jeep’s “Find Your Freedom” contest to win one
year’s salary of $100,00 to get the chance to explore the country on their
own adventures! $60, 185!
11. Best-in-class towing up to 7,650 and payload of 1,600 lbs. with 4-hitch,
2-inch receiver, trailer sway control. Meets j2807 towing test standards. Square tail lamps feature aLED lighting- a wide tailgate opening for unobstructed loading of cargo into the bed. The tailgate is damped and capable of stopping in three positions, while
cargo is easily secured with a power-locking tailgate. Can carry up to 19 sheets of plywood.
12. Updated Pentastar V6 engine (285 horses/265 torque) comes with an 8-
speed auto or 6-speed manual and stop/start; a 3-liter diesel coming later
this year! Fuel econ ranges from 16/23/19 manual to 17/22/19 auto.
13. 4WD Goodies –Command-Trac and Rock-Trac 4×4 systems, Dana 44
axles, Tru-Lock electric front- and rear-axle lockers, Trac-Lok limited-slip
differential, electronic sway-bar disconnect and 33-inch off-road tires.
14. Drive:on road, quiet and good power, smooth transmission and
suspension optimized for on-road ride and maneuvering. Quiet—really quiet.
Even with big tires and tough wheels. Great ergonomics. Tilt/telescope
15. Drive: Off road boasts unmatched crawl ratios and has all the tech and
engineering to handle a wide variety of backcountry terrain, rock, mud,
sand, snow and backcountry
16. Sport and Overland get two-speed transfer case with 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio/heavy-duty Dana 44 front and rear axles with a 3.73 rear axle ratio; Rubicons get Rock-Trac 4×4 system with Dana 44s with a “4LO” ratio of 4:1. Standard is 4.10 front and rear axle ratio and Tru-Lok locking differentials.
17. Forward-facing off-road camera on Rubicon shows obstacles and track-
power washer cleans from a button activated on the info screen!
18. Strong frame and parts—steel frame, 5-foot steel bed with covered
external power source; integrated tie-downs for flexible cargo-carrying.
Lightweight, high-strength aluminum doors, hinges, hood, fenders,
windshield frame, and tailgate.
19. Tech: Uconnect system w/ Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and 7.0- or 8.4-
inch touchscreens w/ pinch-and-zoom capability
20. More than 80 available advanced safety and security features.
21. Under-the seat storage in back allows you to carry a collection of gear
and goods, like your fly rod, your fish and beer on ice and lock it in, in case
you’re open top on-or-off the trail and step away from your vehicle. Plus, a
locking center console.
22. Bluetooth wireless speaker that docks in a protected cubby behind the
rear seat. Kept charged at all times when docked, you can remove it and
take it to the party, your campsite or tent.
23.Two USB ports and a USB-C port up front and two in reach of occupants in the back seat
connect to the media center. A 115-volt AC outlet is available to power select three-pronged home electronics
24. MOPAR has 200 parts ready to be added on at an assembly plant, a
dealer or in your home garage.
My driver partner and colleague Derek Price created a video during our drive. See what I look for in a vehicle and how the Gladiator has Jeep’s DNA inside and out.