The 2020 Gladiator marks Jeep’s return to the pick-up truck market. It is based on the structure of the Wrangler, and from the B-pillars moving forward, it seems very similar to it. The Gladiator is a midsize pick-up, grouped alongside competitors like the Chevy Colorado and the Ford Ranger. The Wrangler DNA promises to issue the 2020 Gladiator with sublime off-road performance, which is perfect for its segment. However, the same qualities can prove challenging in urban driving when it comes to ride quality.
The 2020 Gladiator Rubicon looks quite like the Wrangler. It has been touted to be one with an extended wheelbase and a 5-foot cargo bed rather than the standard cargo area. Other than that, there is a chunky front end, block-like body, and a stretched tail end. The wheelbase is imposing at 3488 mm long and 1894 mm wide. The truck is 5591 mm long as well and 1909 mm high. The typical paint jobs available for the 2020 Gladiator include black, billet silver, bright white, firecracker red, sting grey, and hydro blue.
Metal-plated accents have peppered the cabin of the Gladiator. It employs some retro styles for the interior with eye-catching instrument panel bezels and red stitching on the leather seats. The 2020 Gladiator seems targeted at people who spend a fair share of their leisure or work in the bush or the desert. Its squared-off interior is up to the task with a cabin that is weatherproof and waterproof as well.
Some of the storage solutions are a bit light though they seem to be suited to adventure, such as tensioned mesh sockets on the doors and the seatbacks. It is a cocoon-like interior with topnotch build quality. The seating is decent though taller adults may have trouble with the height in the rear. There is shallow storage space as well beneath the rear seating. LED lights illuminate the narrow storage space when the 60/40 split rear seat is folded flat.
The 8.4-inch multimedia touchscreen is clear and easy to operate while on the road. The Uconnect infotainment is also simple enough to use, providing allowances for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It features 7.0-inch information LED display as well that shows essential data such as digital speed readouts, tyre pressure, and alerts for tyre filling. All controls and dials are user-friendly. The reach-and-rake adjustable steering wheel also comes with voice, audio, and cruise control. There are two main USB ports and a USB-C port at the front and two for the passengers.
Performance and handling
The 2020 Gladiator shares the Wrangler's powertrain, using a 3.6 litre Pentastar V6 unit, which is capable of 209 kW at 6900 RPM. It has been praised for having low-end torque, which is great for off-roading in harsh terrain. Paired with an eight-speed automatic the transmission, it should deliver a lot of power. The Wrangler rides on an ample 3487 mm wheelbase instead of the Wrangler’s 3008 mm. That means it is more stable on the road than its cousin.
There may be some light steering as it likes to wander at speed though the ute feels much firmer on the road. It was believed that the long-wheelbase would pose a problem for the 2020 Gladiator off-road though it did scrape over the dunes, and the rock rails of the Rubicon took the top off without getting entrenched.
The quality dampers also made it easy to go over the grooves, ruts, and rocks. The disconnecting front sway bars on the Rubicon improve the ride and control over rough terrain while moving at slow speeds. The front and rear lockers are also useful in rough terrain. The towing capacity has been rated at 3400 kg while the payload is 725.
The advertised fuel consumption of the 2020 Gladiator is 12.4 litres per 100 km on a combined cycle. The figure may be lower during four-wheel driving. The tank is 83 litres.
The package includes a complement of four airbags, full-speed forward-collision warnings, reverse cameras, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control. The Rubicon also gives driver-aids such as rear cross-path detection for the traffic behind the vehicle.
Tyre pressure monitoring, hill-start assist, and trailer sway control complete the safety allowances. It has not yet been issued an ANCAP safety rating, though the Wrangler, which is based on it, has a three-star rating. The 2020 Gladiator also introduces dual ISOFIX child seat anchor points and three top-tether attachments for the rear seat.
The Jeep 2020 Gladiator Rubicon is the top trim and retails at $76,450. It does offer a warranty spanning five years and a capped price scheduled servicing, including roadside assistance over the life of the vehicle. The first five services are rated at $399, and the scheduled service should be done every 12 months, assuming the car travels 1,000 km every month.
The Jeep 2020 Gladiator Rubicon could well be the off-road sibling of the Wrangler, considering it shares many of its characteristics. The addition to the wheelbase and the suspension, though, made it very impressive off-road. It was designed with the outdoors people in mind and would be a hit in the Outback.
It is not a work-truck because the payload is below average. The cabin is quite comfortable featuring high-quality materials and sufficient space for the modern tourer. The fuel economy is acceptable considering the segment, and the pricing is slightly above average but understandable. It has not yet gotten ANCAP testing though the available features show that the Rubicon is up to standard.
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