Jeep Gladiator, the Wrangler of pickup trucks, ruled the LA Auto Show
Jeep’s long-awaited midsize pickup truck is set to mix it up with the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado and Nissan Frontier.
At launch, the Gladiator will be powered by a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 making 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission and four-wheel drive on all trim levels. An eight-speed automatic is optional. Jeep claims it’ll offer class-leading tow capacity of up to 7,650 pounds and 4×4 payload of up to 1,600 pounds.
Those interested in a little more grunt may want to holdout until the 2020 calendar year when a 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel is slated to join the lineup offering 260 horses and a muscular 442 pound-feet of twist. Unlike the gas engine, the diesel will only be offered with an eight-speed automatic.
Being a Jeep, the Gladiator offers all the necessary hardware to tackle off-road expeditions ranging from a pair of 4×4 systems, Dana 44 axles, electric front- and rear-axle lockers, a limited-slip and skid plates. Rubicon models dial things up a notch with 4.10 axles, improved suspension articulation and travel, Fox shocks, electronic disconnecting sway bars, steel rear bumper and protective cab and cargo bed rails and 33-inch tires. The Rubicon can run up to 35-inch rubber with no lift, be equipped with a forward camera capable of showing anything that’s less than two feet in front of the truck and be outfitted with a front, winch-ready steel bumper.
The Gladiator features an approach angle of 43.6 degrees, breakover angle of 20.3 degrees, departure angle of 26 degrees, 11.1 inches of ground clearance and is capable of fording up to 30 inches of water. Despite that extra-long wheelbase, there’s still plenty of off-road capability here.
From a design standpoint, the Wrangler-design inspiration is clear, with the circular headlights, seven-slot grille and square taillights. The Wrangler’s open-air capabilities also make the jump over to the Gladiator with the removable aluminum doors, soft or available hardtops and fold-down windshield.
Out back is a five-foot steel bed featuring integrated tie downs, under-rail bed lighting available with a spray-in bed liner, 115-volt three-prong plug and tonneau cover. The sides of the bed box have been left low on purpose for easy reach in to load or unload items. The damped, three-position tailgate in the middle setting matches up with the tops of the rear wheel housing and enables the Gladiator to carry 20 sheets of 4×8 plywood or drywall flat. The Gladiator may not be as capacious as something like aor , but there’s still significant utility on offer.
Heading inside, the heritage-inspired layout boasts a horizontal dash with trapezoidal end, plenty of storage cubbies, rubberized touch points and real metal plated trim pieces. For a more premium feel, Overland models receive wrapped instrument panels with accent stitching.
Rear seating space mirrors the Wrangler Unlimited for segment-leading legroom with seats that can be folded to provide a flat load surface and access to secure storage areas behind the seatbacks. Folding the rear seat cushions up uncovers an open storage bin with dedicated compartments to safely hold bolts when the doors or top are removed and the windshield when folded. A lockable storage bin with removable dividers is available as an option.
Spearheading infotainment is the fourth-generation Uconnect system with either a 5-, 7- or 8.4-inch touchscreen depending on trim level. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities are standard with navigation coming with the 8.4-inch display.