The new 2020 Jeep Gladiator is bar-none the coolest new product introduction in 2019. I drove it and loved it.
I loved the new 2020 Jeep Gladiator for all its high points and issues. With a handful of exceptions, like the Patriot and Compass, Jeep has created some of the most flawed yet coolest and desirable vehicles despite basically sticking to a pair recipes.
One recipe involves SUV like the Cherokee and its derivatives live the Grand Cherokee and the Comanche. The other is the Wrangler and its numerous variations like the Scrambler, the Unlimited and now, the Gladiator. Thanks to this dedication to a specific form of art (creating cars is absolutely a form of art), Jeep has become one of the brightest shining stars in the automotive universe.
It’s not exactly perfect
The latest but not the greatest is the new 2020 Jeep Gladiator. I say not greatest if mostly because Jeep and FCA were wisely “cheap” when they design the truck. I’m referring mostly to the rear door and its cut-out. The Gladiator’s longer wheelbase freed up some room to install a regular-shaped rear door. Instead, they went with the Unlimited’s rear door.
This decision make not only ingress and egress messier and more difficult for adults but made my job of fitting baby seats, placing and removing said babies from the rear bench a solid PITA. Yes, the issue is identical in the Wrangler. While on the subject of the 2nd row, the seating area is narrow and the seat-back is very upright making medium to long road trips uncomfortable for rear passengers.
The next problem is not a new one. I’ve griped about the absence of a footrest for the driver for a while now – off-roading without a proper place to position the left foot to brace oneself is unfortunate. And while I’m feeling cheeky, the bed’s too short and not deep enough to carry or haul real items like 2x4s or anything longer than its 5-foot length. Lastly, it likes petrol quite a bit. Oh, and it’s expensive.
But I want one bad
A better indicator of how endearing and cool the Gladiator is that the mother of my two children would have one. My 3-year old son still talks about the Jeep weeks after it’s been returned.
Nearly entirely based on the Wrangler, the visual differences between the two Jeeps are obvious. With the exception of the bed and extended wheelbase, the Gladiator’s design is all JL Wrangler. My favorite aspect is the cleaned up 7-slat front grille and the integrated turn-signals in the front fenders. I get the sense that the Wrangler’s now matured and looks better. Kind of like George Clooney and Brad Pitt now that they’ve aged.
Despite the rear seat posing some problems for small children transportation, the whole of the 2020 Gladiator’s cabin is all Wrangler and more luxurious, better appointed and assembled than ever. At the heart of my Overland is the uConnect 4 multimedia 7-inch screen. The standard screen is a 5-inch unit in the Sport S. If you get bored with the infotainment system, you can always count all the hidden Easter eggs.
For all the roads
If you do use the 2020 Jeep Gladiator as intended, boredom is inconceivable. Although not the most powerful on paper, the 3.6-litre V6 is the only engine available with Gladiator. With 285-horsepower and 260 lb.-ft., the Jeep pickup still gets up to speed quickly. Optioned with the 8-speed automatic transmission, the Gladiator is now officially the most civilized of its kind ever.
The V6 is undoubtedly energetic and well served by the smooth-operating 8-speed automatic. The Gladiator does suffer a hefty fuel consumption average. It tips the scale at 4,672 lb (1,999 kg) or 265 lb (120 kg) more than the Wrangler Unlimited Sahara which serves in part to explain its near 13L/100km.
The new JL Wrangler is the most refined and docile-riding thanks to its wheelbase that’s been extended by an extra 479mm or 18.9 inches. This will affect some of the Gladiator’s more hardcore off-roading abilities but other than a Chevy Colorado ZR2, it’ll be tops in off-road know-how.
On the road, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator rides wonderfully well, unaffected or nearly by less-than-perfect surfaces. Road noise is manageable and the brakes are properly responsive. The steering lacks precision somewhat but this is a Jeep Gladiator after all so it’s fine.
The Gladiator will tow up to 7,650 lb which makes it the current champ. The Chevy Colorado for example, tops out at a Honda Pilot equalling 5,000 lb. The bed will haul up to 1,100 lb and hold up to 1,000 litres in volume. By comparison, a new RAM 1500 5-foot 7-inch bed can hold 1,500 litres.
On the price
My tested 2020 Jeep Gladiator Overland starts at $50,995. The base Sport S with the 6-speed manual transmission begins at $46,995. A Rubicon goes for $53,995.
The Overland includes 18-wheels, the 3-piece top, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. My unit also featured the aforementioned uConnect 4 with navigation, the Cold Weather group, LED lighting, leather rear locking differential and more for a grand total of $61,795. $61,795… This money gets you a base 2019 BMW X3 M40i or a 2019 Mercedes-AMG C43 wagon. Suddenly I don’t want one so bad but the point the Gladiator is pricey.
In a nutshell too late, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator is built for everything or nearly. I still love it. So does my son.