A silver 2022 Jeep Gladiator is shown from the rear driving on a foggy road.

The Gladiator Is Changing How We Perceive Pickup Trucks

You have to admit that a few things seemed kind of weird when Jeep dropped the Gladiator into an already hot market. The first is quite obvious, and let’s not beat around the bush on this; the Gladiator is a strange-looking truck; some will even go as far as saying it’s ugly. Now, ugly is a strong word, and we would rather save that terminology for models like the Yugo or Gremlin. That said, the Gladiator does catch you off guard when you see it for the very first time. It’s not so much ugly as it is just plain odd-looking. The other consideration is why Jeep decided to jump into the pickup truck market in the first place. Well, many of you may know that Jeep has actually produced several trucks over the years, and in a market in which trucks are more popular than ever, introducing the Gladiator makes perfect sense. Jeep’s newest addition to the family might not be the prettiest pickup truck on the market, but there are plenty of reasons to drive to your used Jeep Gladiator dealer and check one out.

A red 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon is shown driving on a remote trail after leaving a used Jeep Gladiator dealer.

Jeep Trucks In Years Past

2020 marked the year Jeep introduced its latest pickup truck to the market, a highly competitive market, we might add. However, the Gladiator is not the first pickup truck manufactured by Jeep, not by a longshot. As a matter of fact, Jeep has designed and manufactured many trucks over the years.

The very first pickup manufactured by Jeep was the Willys Jeep 4×4 Truck, which was introduced in 1947 and stayed in production until 1965. The earliest models were paired with the Go-Devil engine, a straight-4 engine utilized by the military during World War II. During its run, over 200,000 were made. The Jeep Forward Control (FC) hit the market in 1956 and would remain in production for nine years. The FC was a popular choice for businesses and the military and utilized as dump trucks, fire trucks, and tow trucks.

You may be surprised to know that the Jeep Gladiator name was originally used for Jeep’s third truck, which was first introduced in 1962. The Gladiator would stay in production for 26 years until it was shut down in 1988. However, in the 1970s, Jeep dropped the Gladiator name in favor of simply calling its truck the “J-Series.”

In 1966, Jeep introduced the Jeepster Commando to the world, and it was in direct competition with the Toyota and Ford pickups of the time. However, Kaiser-Jeep was purchased by AMC in 1970, and they would drop the Jeepster moniker the following year. Jeep’s next off-road truck, the CJ-8 Scrambler, hit the market in 1981, and in 1985, we were introduced to the Jeep Comanche. Based on the Jeep Cherokee, the Comanche didn’t last very long, and the run ended after only seven years.

Despite this long history of Jeep trucks, it wasn’t until 2020 that Jeep returned to the pickup segment of the industry with the new Gladiator.

How the Gladiator Is Changing the Market

When you are discussing the accolades of the pickup truck, one of the first things that come to mind is performance. With the Jeep Gladiator, the base engine boasts strong output, and there is even a diesel option because choices matter. In doing a little research, you will find no other models in this segment offer a more robust base engine; perhaps this will change down the road to better compete with the Gladiator.

If you have read other reviews of the Jeep Gladiator, you know that almost every article mentions the beauty of the interior. There is nothing overly special about the interior, and it’s not like it offers anything that you can’t get in other models; it just stands out because of its design and simplicity. Not only does the interior look fantastic, but it’s comfortable as well. We are sure the competition is taking notes and making changes.

While the first time you see the Gladiator, you might scratch your head, the style soon becomes quite eye-catching. One thing we can say for sure is that the look of the traditional pickup truck has not changed dramatically over the years, for whatever reason. However, the Gladiator is a truck that isn’t afraid to look like something completely different, and that is not a bad thing.

A man is shown driving an ATV into the bed of a white 2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon.

The Gladiator Is One-of-a-Kind

The distinct Jeep styling is seen all over the Gladiator, from the iconic seven-slotted grille to the boxy body. In a way, it does give off that retro look. In fact, the Gladiator would look good in all sorts of applications. Just as it looks good on the road and looks quite natural in off-road conditions, the Gladiator wouldn’t look out of place in a military setting or at a work site.

What makes the Gladiator even more unique is the fact that there are plenty of options for customization. Anyone who has ever owned a Jeep probably knows that the market is saturated with all sorts of gadgets and goodies for Jeep products. In addition, Jeep offers several choices when you buy the model. There are several paint options, interior colors, engine choices, options, and packages that go a long way in giving your Gladiator a custom look and feel.

In terms of off-road capabilities, the Gladiator has little competition. Face it, Jeep has long been known for their models with off-road prowess, and this includes the Gladiator. While there are other pickup models on the market that do very well on a mountain trail, they are still no match for the Gladiator.

Plenty of Improvements

We’re telling you this because the truth matters. There was a time when you couldn’t have a quiet conversation in a Wrangler or some other Jeep model because you had to shout to be heard. This is because many models were notorious for being rather loud when driving down the road, letting in all sorts of road and wind noise. The only solution was to shut up and crank up the radio, which hardly solved anything. But that was a long time ago, and the Gladiator enjoys a relatively quiet and peaceful interior, even when cruising down the highway at 65 mph.

Another thing owners of older Wranglers will tell you is that it was sometimes a challenge keeping the SUV in a lane. Yes, the older style Jeep models were noisy, and they jumped around the road a lot, but that has changed as well. You will find that the longer wheelbase of the Gladiator offers a more stable ride with good handling even at high speeds, and you will also enjoy the ride because it is comfortable. Again, a vast improvement from past models that saw the driver and passengers bouncing around in their seats.

We don’t think that the Jeep brand set out to change the way we think about pickup trucks; it is something that just happened. But the Gladiator has proven many things and has made us think about the way a pickup truck looks, feels, and performs. When you are shopping for a pickup truck, you don’t see much difference in the top brands like Ford, Chevy, and GMC. They all look basically the same, and they all perform about the same as well. So it is pretty evident that Jeep was thinking about two things when creating the Gladiator: they wanted something unique, and they wanted to stick with their roots. It is easy to see that they accomplished that goal. And for that, we are glad.