18 June 2020 · Vehicle Reviews

Review | 2020+ Jeep Gladiator

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Take one of the most legendary offroaders - the Jeep Wrangler - add a ute tray and the result is the long awaited Jeep Gladiator. That's the short story, but there is much more going on with the Gladiator.

Initial Impression

Initial Impression

The Jeep Gladiator the 'one and only convertible lifestyle truck in the world' with it's completely removable roof (and doors) and you can be sure to turn some heads when driving it down the road - or the beach of course. It undeniably got road presence with its rugged looks and though when seen from the front the Gladiator might be mistaken for a Wrangler, the moment it passes by and you see the tray it becomes clear that it's a different beast.

With its beefy tires, wide body and plethora of accessories most Jeep owners like to put on to customize their priced possession every Gladiator will be unique. Because it's brand-new you won't see many around too soon either, which makes it really eye-catching. Now image popping off the roof when cruising down the beach and you understand why 'lifestyle' is such an important aspect of the Gladiator.

Driveability

Judging by the looks of the Gladiator - very similar to those of the Wrangler - you might think it drives the same as well. Yet it drives significantly different to the Wrangler because of its longer wheelbase, which makes it more comfortable on-road as well. Plus that extra length gives the Gladiator more stability on all surfaces. Jeep put in new rear suspension for a smoother ride.

However, like the Wrangler, the Gladiator makes light work of the toughest terrain off-road. Both the Overland and Rubicon come with the same engine - the reliable Pentastar 3.6 litres V6 petrol that puts out 209kW and 353Nm - which is plenty to tackle any terrain and to be able to overtake on the highway. With a fuel claim of 12L/100km it's not the most efficient car on the road, but considering its boxy looks and size it's not bad at all, partly thanks to its sophisticated eight-speed automatic transmission.

It's the Rubicon that outclasses anything driving offroad with its coil-spring live axles front and rear, 33-inch tyres, proper ground clearance, part-time 4WD with a lever-selectable 4:1 transfer case, locking diffs front and rear, a swaybar disconnect system up front and robust underbody protection. Hard to find an obstacle the Gladiator can't tackle.

Liveability

Liveability

Inside, the Gladiator has an upright dashboard that mimics the Wrangler's and supports user-friendly, sturdy and durable controls. Think waterproof push-button start and easily washable carpets, trim and hard wearing materials. Everything feels solid, no nonsense and workmanlike, whilst you do get the comfort of a heated steering wheel and front seats. In the centre console you'll find a wall of buttons and the 8.4-inch infotainment display comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus two USBs and a USB-C port in front.

Because of its traditional boxy design, old-school doors and over 5,5 metres of length the space inside is optimal, with plenty of leg room in the back as well. The seats themselves are well sculpted and the high-riding driving position is comfortable with excellent visibility throughout. This is of course improved even further if you take the roof and doors of completely - go convertible!

The tray's load space is 1442mm wide – 1137mm between the wheel-arches so not wide enough for a pallet – and it is 1531mm long. The Gladiator has a claimed just over 600kg payload and can tow almost 3 tonne, so if it's not big enough inside you can always throw it in the back or tow it behind you.

Cost

Cost

The Jeep Gladiator is available in two variants: Overland and Rubicon. The first costs just about $75k, the latter $1000 more. Both come with the same V6 petrol engine and eight speed gearbox. The Overland is equipped with Jeep’s Selec-Trac Active On-Demand 4x4 system.

Standard safety equipment includes Forward Collision Warning Plus, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Path Detection. You also get remote proximity keyless entry and a nine-speaker Alpine audio system.

So what does that grand give you? A more advanced Rock-Trac Active On-Demand II 4x4 system, front electronic swaybar disconnect to improve axle articulation, front and rear locking differentials, an Off-Road+ Button and upgraded FOX-branded two-inch diameter shock absorbers.

The Overland model features body-colour hard-top and fender flares, whilst the Rubicon features a black hard- top roof and black fender flares.

Jeep offers the Gladiator (and its entire range) with the 'There and Back' guarantee, which affords customers a five-year warranty, capped price servicing ($399 every 12 months or 12,000km for petrol/20,000km for diesel engines) and lifetime roadside assistance.

Conclusion

Conclusion

Perhaps even more than an offroad beast, versatile ute or rugged machine, the Jeep Gladiator is a lifestyle. Yes, it's a proper off-road-focused 4WD but it handles beautifully on the tarmac as well. And you can haul a load in it with all the flexibility you desire. But there are others that can do the same. What the Gladiator has that they are lacking however, is personality. Charisma. You choose to drive it with your heart and want to make it your own. Take it for a leisurly drive just as much as bashing it down the tracks. But the best way to enjoy is has to be with the top off on cruising down the beach. That's lifestyle.