A white 2021 Jeep Gladiator is shown from the side parked on a beach next to a surfer.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator: An Unconventional Midsize Pickup

What do you get when you combine iconic Jeep styling with pickup truck utility? The answer can be found right down the street at a Jeep dealer near me and you. One look at the 2021 Jeep Gladiator, and it’s abundantly clear this isn’t your everyday pickup. It’s something else altogether, almost defying the traditional definition of a pickup.

Authentic Jeep roots give the Gladiator its distinctive curb appeal, but don’t let the good looks fool you; underneath that cool styling and signature seven-slot grille lies an off-roading and towing beast. In classic Jeep fashion, the Gladiator is a go-anywhere trail explorer, equally at home climbing a mountain or cruising your neighborhood streets.

Jeep has always been synonymous with open-air adventure, and the Gladiator is no exception. Pull off the doors, fold down the windshield, and peel back the Sunrider soft top for a true open-air driving experience. No other pickup truck offers this kind of configurability. Not even close -unless you count a conventional rectangular sunroof, which we don’t.

The Gladiator doesn’t disappoint in the cabin, either, with a full spectrum of technology designed to keep you entertained and connected. Best-in-class rear-seat legroom means your passengers will enjoy the ride too. Budget shoppers will love the mid-$30,000 starting MSRP, while luxury seekers will fawn over the plush High Altitude trim.

If you can’t quite decide between an SUV or a pickup, the Gladiator is likely the vehicle for you. It features all the interior cabin space of an SUV with the utility of a pickup truck bed in a unique body style that transcends traditional category definitions. Check out all the unique features of the one-of-a-kind 2021 Gladiator.

Our Favorite Trims

First off, there are nine different trims and special editions to choose from on the 2021 Gladiator, and within each, Jeep offers numerous equipment packages and add-ons. The sheer volume of choices makes shopping for a Gladiator fun, but it can also be a little overwhelming. Here we select a few standout trims to give you a starting point.

Price-conscious buyers will love the low starting price of the Gladiator Sport. Sure, it’s the base model, but it’s still loaded with features and wears the Trail Rated badge. You’ll get incredible towing and payload, at 7,650 pounds and 1,700 pounds, respectively, and Jeep’s iconic removable doors and fold-down windshield. Also standard is a three-position tailgate and a 5-foot bed. The base powertrain includes a 3.6-liter V6 engine and four-wheel drive, with the choice between a 6-speed manual transmission or an 8-speed automatic.

The popular Gladiator Overland is a great mid-point trim. It sports larger 18-inch wheels and side steps for easy cabin access, along with available leather-trimmed seating and standard push-button start. A 115-volt auxiliary power outlet is included to keep your tools and toys running, as are front and rear heavy-duty shock absorbers for serious off-roading. The Overland is a great blend of Jeep capability and modern comfort.

Buyers looking for a side order of refinement to go with their Gladiator’s rugged capability will want to skip to the top-of-the-line High Altitude trim. For a starting price of just over $50,000, the High Altitude features 20-inch gloss black wheels, plush Nappa leather seating with caramel stitching, and a standard 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen with navigation and a 4G Wi-Fi Hotspot.

The Gladiator Mojave is Jeep’s first-ever Desert Rated midsize truck. What is Desert Rated? Similar to vehicles with the prestigious Trail Rated badge, Jeeps with a Desert Rated badge have passed a series of punishing tests in extreme desert conditions. Performance excellence in five categories – Ride Control and Stability, Sand and Dirt Traction, Ground Clearance, Maneuverability, and Desert Prowess – distinguish the Desert Rated Mojave from its siblings. If you plan to do extreme desert off-roading, this is the truck for you.

A red 2021 Jeep Gladiator is driving over rocks to get to a Jeep dealer near you.

What Can’t the Gladiator Do?

The Desert Rated badge is exclusive to the Gladiator Mojave, but all the other trims wear the distinguished Jeep Trail Rated badge. Trail Rated Jeeps are proven off-roaders, starting with traction. In addition to the standard 4×4 system, the Gladiator’s available Off-Road+ system gives drivers control over speed and shifting to maximize traction when you need it most.

Other Trail Rated features are designed for specific off-roading challenges, like water fording. The Gladiator can capably ford up to 30 inches of water, thanks to its high air intakes. Its smaller wheelbase optimizes maneuverability on tight trails, and its articulation – how well the vehicle can keep all four tires in contact with the ground – is unmatched. With this truck, you’ll stay confident over rocky terrain, especially since the Gladiator comes with up to 11.1 inches of ground clearance.

All Gladiator models come standard with a powerful 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar engine that produces 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque economically and efficiently. Fuel economy ratings of up to 17 MPG city and 23 MPG highway make for an affordable ownership experience, and the available 7,650-pound max towing capacity is plenty for hauling a boat or trailer. Need more power? Opt for the available 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine with a best-in-class torque rating of 442 lb-ft and fuel economy ratings of 22 MPG city and 28 MPG highway.

Technology and Safety

All 2021 Jeep Gladiators come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity via Jeep’s advanced Uconnect operating system. Depending on the trim you select, either a 5-inch, a 7-inch, or an 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen is your gateway to accessing a whole range of technology features. An available 4G Wi-Fi Hotspot keeps everyone dialed in from even the most remote trails.

Jeep’s Uconnect system is now compatible with all Amazon Alexa devices. Via the Jeep Skill, you can control your Gladiator right from home, including starting the vehicle remotely, which is perfect for cold days, and sending an address to the available onboard navigation system. You can also check fuel levels and review other diagnostic data before walking out the door.

Select an available SiriusXM Guardian subscription, and your smartphone becomes a Gladiator control hub. Via the app, SiriusXM Guardian lets you tap a button to lock and unlock doors, remote start your vehicle, sound the horn, and review a monthly Vehicle Health Report to stay on top of scheduled maintenance.

Equip your Gladiator with intelligent driver-assist systems to keep you safer and have a little extra help during challenging driving situations. Adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, and rear parking sensors are all available. The Rubicon trim even features a special front-facing camera that gives drivers a better look at trail conditions and potential hazards.

A grey 2021 Jeep Gladiator is shown from the back driving on a two way mountain road.

An Icon in the Making

The Gladiator is well worth a look if you’re on the hunt for a midsize pickup that doesn’t compromise interior space. Jeep fans will love that the Gladiator incorporates Jeep’s standout off-roading prowess and an exterior appearance that is unmistakably Jeep. The best part is the pickup bed, a feature you won’t find on any other Jeep model.

Every new 2021 Jeep buyer is automatically enrolled in the Jeep Wave program, an ownership enhancer that offers free scheduled maintenance for the first 36 months (oil changes and tire rotations) without the usual mileage restrictions. The program also includes 24/7 roadside assistance for the duration of the 5-year or 60,000-mile powertrain warranty, as well as round-the-clock access to a live Jeep agent for product help or to schedule service.

Car and Driver awarded the 2021 Jeep Gladiator a rare 9/10 rating, calling it “both a legitimate pickup truck and a trail-ready tool.” We call it a versatile and unique midsize pickup offering. With multiple trims, special editions, and available equipment packages, the 2021 Gladiator can pretty much be anything you need it to be, from an affordable everyday driver to an extreme high-speed desert traveling companion.