I don’t need to write this article. The mere fact that Jeep is selling a Wrangler-based pickup is enough. You will look at the photos, which show exactly what you’d expect a Wrangler with a bed to look like, and you will want one. But I like writing about cars, particularly neat ones like this, so I’m going to write this article anyway.
The Gladiator will be the most off-road-capable pickup ever offered in stock form. What about the Ford F-150 Raptor you might ask? Well, that doesn’t come with a solid front axle, (which maximizes articulation), a locking front differential, (which maximizes traction), or the Gladiator’s extremely good approach and departure angles, (you’ll notice I didn’t mention breakover there). The Raptor will still be way better on the road and way faster, but it will not get through as challenging of terrain as the Gladiator will. Also, you can’t take the roof and doors off a Raptor or fold down the windscreen. And that alone is enough to justify the Gladiator’s existence.
The Gladiator will not be the most capable Jeep. That honor will remain with the two-door Wrangler Rubicon, largely because the Gladiator is just so freakin’ loooonnnnngggg. Its wheelbase is a full 19.4 inches longer than that of the four-door Wrangler, while the truck itself is 31 inches longer. Jeep acknowledges this fact by fitting the Rubicon version (the one with the most off-road chops) of the Gladiator with honest-to-god rock rails under its doors, as well as actual protection parts under the rear corners. So scrape away, pickup-loving rock crawlers.
Nor will the Gladiator be the truckiest of mid-size trucks. Despite its upgraded solid axles and optional 442-pound-foot turbodiesel engine, it can’t quite match the towing capacity of the diesel Chevy Colorado, which can be maxed out to 7,700 pounds (the Gladiator only manages a pitiful 7,650), nor can it match the new Ford Ranger’s 1,860-pound payload rating (the Gladiator can carry only a pathetic 1,650 pounds in its bed). But buyers won’t be buying this truck to work, largely because they won’t be able to afford to.
The Gladiator will likely be the most expensive mid-size truck you can buy. Jeep hasn’t released official pricing yet, but more size means more metal, which will combine with the incredible level of pent up demand to almost certainly make it more expensive than the Wrangler it’s based on. It will be available in Sport, Sport S, Overland, and Rubicon trim levels. If by some miracle the Gladiator is priced the same as an equivalent four-door Wrangler (it won’t be), that will mean its cheapest possible price is $33,000. A diesel-equipped Rubicon will likely exceed $60,000. In comparison, the new Ford Ranger will start at $24,000.
But none of that matters, because starting in the second-half of next year, this will be the hottest Jeep you can buy, if not the coolest vehicle in America. Especially when you take the roof and doors off. Did I mention you can do that?