When you’re already the most popular off-road brand around, it can be difficult to come up with something that’s going to make waves in the automotive industry and still be a success. So it was with Jeep as they were planning to unveil the newest vehicle in their legendary lineup of rugged SUVs. Except, this was no SUV. The 2020 Jeep Gladiator falls into the mid-size truck category and comes with the capabilities you’d expect to find there. However, it’s still a Jeep and very closely associated with the Wrangler, so you get a truck bed, increased towing and hauling capacities, and all the off-road prowess of a Wrangler. What a remarkable combination. It’s no wonder the Gladiator has been winning awards such as the North American Truck of the Year.
A Brief History
You may not have known, but this isn’t the first time Jeep has used the Gladiator name. And this may be less surprising, but it’s not Jeep’s first truck, either. For some, though, it’ll be hard to remember the last time a Jeep pickup or Gladiator was seen, as it’s been many years. The original Gladiator was discontinued in 1988 (although the name was dropped much earlier), and the last Jeep truck (the Comanche) was seen in 1992. Even before then, there was still a long history with Jeep producing pickups, so it’s no huge surprise that they’ve released a modern pickup that seems to check all the right boxes for today’s consumers.
Prices and Trims
The all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator comes in four different trims. If you’re a Jeep enthusiast or at least familiar with the brand, you’ll already know these model names as they’re quite popular across many Jeep vehicles. You have the Sport ($33,545), Sport S ($36,745), Overland ($40,395), and Rubicon ($43,875). All models come as 4×4 without any option for 2WD. This will most likely account for why the lowest-priced Sport model is starting a fair margin above the $30,000 price point than some other mid-size pickups find themselves starting below. Still, the pricing is well within the range you’d expect to find on any mid-size truck, and since we’re looking at a Jeep, we know there will be some additional features added on that you wouldn’t find in another vehicle. Namely, the aforementioned Jeep 4×4 system that has always been held at the highest of standards.
Engine, Performance, & Capability
The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is the only pickup truck in the world to earn the Trail Rated badge from Jeep. It’s a bit of a confusing statement since Jeep is the one giving out the badge, and the Gladiator is the only pickup in their lineup. And yet it actually does mean something. Even though it’s a self-awarded badge, the Trail Rated award takes into account five key types of testing that a vehicle must pass to earn it. You have traction, water fording, maneuverability, articulation, and ground clearance. These key features of Jeep testing might not be so different than what other carmakers do for their off-road vehicles, but it’s a well-known fact that Jeep will really put their vehicles through the wringer so they can release the most capable vehicles on the market.
Each 2020 Jeep Gladiator comes with a 3.6L V6 24V VVT engine that’s paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, although there’s also an option for an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 3.6L V6 engine has an output of up to 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This engine allows for a maximum towing capacity of up to 7,650 lbs, which is the capacity you’d find on the Sport and Sport S models. The Overland maxes out at 6,000 lbs, while the Rubicon maxes out at 7,000 lbs. The 7,650 maximum towing capacity is very similar to what you’d find on other mid-size trucks, like the Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, or Toyota Tacoma, which makes the Gladiator quite competitive in that regard.
What really puts the Gladiator above the other competition, though, is its off-road capability. If you took a Wrangler Unlimited and added a truck bed, you’d basically be looking at the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into it, but that’s the basic gist of what we have here. If you look at the Rubicon model, which is known to be the best off-road trim among Jeep vehicles, you’ll find some great features that will make any future adventure of yours much easier. There are locking front and rear differentials to help increase traction, the Rock-Trac 4:1 transfer case that can deliver an 84:1 crawl ratio, an electronic disconnecting sway bar, rock rails, and FOX aluminum-bodied 2-inch shocks. Heavy-duty Dana 44 front and rear axles, front and rear tow hooks, steel skid plates, and 33-inch all-terrain tires are also there to provide you with the equipment you need on the trail.
What If I’m Not Into Off-Roading?
If you’re not into off-roading and you’re considering the 2020 Jeep Gladiator as a viable option, rest assured that it still is. While the Gladiator has many redeeming off-road qualities about it, it’s still just as capable on the road and as a regular mid-size pickup for you or the family. Besides, you wouldn’t be the only Jeep enthusiast out there that’s not out rock-crawling every weekend. Much of the time, Jeeps will be used for your everyday commute and daily errands. Fortunately, each Jeep Gladiator will still come with all of your important standard safety features, like airbags and seat belt alerts. You’ll also have Electronic Roll Mitigation, Electronic Stability Control, and Electronic Trailer Sway Control, just to make sure you’re well protected on and off the pavement.
For advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies, the Rubicon model will be your best bet. It has available options for Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Blind-Spot and Cross-Path Detection, and ParkSense Rear Park-Assist System. Apart from safety features, the Rubicon is also where you’ll find a lot of great convenience and luxury features as standard options. This includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a 7-inch display, and options for an Alpine Premium Audio System and SiriusXM Traffic Plus.
It Does Everything
The initial honeymoon period of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator may soon be wearing off, but in its first year, it has really made an impact. Its popularity is immense, especially among consumers that want as much versatility as possible. With the Gladiator, that’s exactly what you get, as it is able to adjust according to your needs. Commuter and work vehicle on your average day and then fully-prepared adventure truck on the weekends. And at the moment, there really isn’t another mid-size truck out there with the same capabilities. Plus, since it’s a Jeep, it comes with that unique branding and look that no other manufacturer can give you. If you see one out in the wild, you might think it’s a Wrangler Unlimited at first glance, at least until you see the truck bed. They’re easy to spot, and they don’t look like your typical pickup. For most people, that’s a good thing, since it’s really not your typical pickup.