You may have clicked on this article simply because you wanted to know which of Jeep’s incredibly exciting vehicles is considered “the Funnest.” Or perhaps you wanted to know what kind of article uses a non-word like “Funnest” in the title. In truth, this may be the most fun (there, we fixed it) article you read all day because we’re going to discuss fun facts about the Jeep Gladiator. Facts so fun; you may find yourself running out to your Jeep Gladiator dealer to experience the funness for yourself. Funosity Funtastic?
All departures from the Scrabble dictionary aside, there are many fantastic qualities about the Jeep Gladiator that really deserve a lot more notoriety. Did you know that the Gladiator we know and love today isn’t the first pickup truck that Jeep has offered? And did you further know that the Gladiator has already racked up its own pile of accolades from drivers and experts alike?
A History of Awesomeness
When we think of a Jeep, we generally think of a more modern version. We get images of a Wrangler calmly climbing some otherwise impossible rocky pass or a Cherokee filled to the brim with adventure gear and a kayak on top. Regardless of the model, Jeeps are known as vehicles that do things–generally the type of things your mother warned you against doing, which makes them all the more fun.
Therefore, when the Jeep Gladiator was officially announced in 2018, many drivers were thrilled at this “best of both worlds” concept. Sure, there are plenty of off-road capable trucks, but the Gladiator takes it the other direction–it’s an off-road vehicle with truck capability. What will they think of next?
Actually, they already thought of it.
Fact #1: The first Jeep truck was the Willys-Overland 4×4, which was manufactured from 1947 through 1965.
It was originally offered as a one-ton truck that could be assembled as a pickup truck, platform stake truck, chassis cab, or just the bare chassis could be purchased, making it a far different vision than the Jeeps we know today. A few years later, the 1949 Willys-Overland truck would be offered in a smaller three-quarter-ton configuration with rear-wheel drive.
Fact #2: The first Gladiator was introduced to the Jeep lineup for the 1963 model year and was produced until 1988.
It was largely based on the Jeep Wagoneer, which has also recently been revitalized for modern drivers. Both shared the same platform, powertrain, and styling in those early years, though the 1963 Gladiator was offered in rear and four-wheel drive, with the ground-breaking ability to use the front suspension independently. These two early innovations actually came in very handy for both civilians and military alike. The original Gladiator was adapted into vehicles used in the Vietnam conflict, as well as by the Swedish Air Force and the Lebanese Armed Forces. Why the Gladiator? Because…
Fact #3: It was designed to be easy to maintain.
The Tornado engine offered at the time provided 140 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque and provided one of the earliest iterations of four-wheel drive with an automatic transmission. It also only needed an oil change every 6,000 miles or so, had a 20-gallon fuel tank, overhead cam design, and a hydraulic brake system that could handle much more weight than was required. The result? A vehicle that can do a lot of things while being very dependable.
Today’s Jeep Gladiator Excels at Its Job
When the 2020 Jeep Gladiator was first announced by Stellantis in November 2018, the automotive crowd quite literally went wild. Speculation immediately started about what type of engine would go into the new Gladiator and which aspects of Jeep’s latest and greatest technological developments would be included in this version. After all, a lot of things have changed since 1992.
Tim Kuniskis, Head of Jeep Brand – North America teased the new Gladiator in the 2018 press release as “unquestionably a truck and instantly recognizable as a Jeep, the all-new 2020 Gladiator is the ultimate vehicle for any outdoor adventure…. Born from a rich and proud heritage of tough, dependable Jeep trucks, Gladiator combines rugged utility, versatility, and functionality resulting in the most capable mid-size truck ever.” Those are very big words, so how did they do it? With finesse, of course.
Fact #4: The seven-slot grille that the Gladiator seems to share with the Wrangler is actually custom-designed for the Gladiator.
The slots are wider for more air intake, which leads to the truck’s best-in-class towing capacity of up to 7,650 pounds. Of course…
Fact #5: The Gladiator is designed to be even more capable than its ancestors.
The five-foot steel bed can handle up to 1,600 pounds and includes an integrated power source and tie-downs. It can ford up to 30 inches of water. It’s equipped with your choice of 3.6L V6 engine with an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission, or a 3.0L EcoDiesel V6, either of which is more fuel-efficient than previous models.
But What About the Fun Factor?
There is one area of fun in which the Jeep Gladiator has no competition.
Fact #6: The Jeep Gladiator is the only topless truck.
Most trucks have doors, windows, a roof, and a fixed windshield. Taking a cue from its wild sibling, the Wrangler, the Gladiator allows drivers to remove all or none of these to let the sunshine in, the breeze blows, thus making truck “work” more like truck “play.”
Unlike some of the competition, the Gladiator isn’t just “off-road ready.” Instead, it’s fully off-road equipped, with specialized 4×4 systems that let drivers direct torque to match the terrain. Dana 44 axles, Tru-Lock electric front and rear-axle lockers, electric sway bar disconnect, skid plates, and large off-road rated tires to keep you going regardless of what the roads, the trails, or the weather throw at you. To underline its capability, Jeep introduced a special edition just for desert conditions.
Fact #7: The Gladiator Sand Runner was designed to keep up with the sand, the heat, and the wild desert terrain of the Middle East.
This special edition was given special FOX hydraulic shocks, jounce bumpers with an extra suspension lift, and standard 33-inch tires, all of which combined led to Jeep’s first Desert Rated vehicle.
But what about the inside? Is it nice? Is it spacious? Is it driver-friendly?
Fact #8: The Gladiator was named one of Ward’s 10 Best Interiors of 2019.
Standard features vary from trim to trim, of course, but within the Gladiator, drivers will find over 80 available safety and driver assistance features, a large color touchscreen, fold-down second-row seats with available under-seat lockable storage, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.
Owning a Gladiator Means Fun Times Are Ahead
There are, of course, a few things that could make the Gladiator even more fun, and Jeep enthusiasts around the world eagerly share their opinions about future modifications with each other online. However, one of the biggest draws of driving a Jeep is how customizable they are, and the Gladiator is no exception. Not only are there several well-designed trims to choose from, but also a variety of packages that can be added on to help drivers create their ultimate land/rock/sand/mud/fording machines. On top of that, Jeep offers a few extra mods drivers can purchase for their vehicles.
In a day and age where customization is key, this means you can take your Gladiator’s funness ranking to the max…or just a little bit if that’s more your style. While “funness” might not be a real word, it’s probably the best way to describe the mid-size truck that does its job, has lots of fun, and has the historical chops to prove that it’s not just a phase.