Cross “Getting a Second Car” Off The List
Just Get A Gladiator!
By Beverly & Steve Smirnis
Texas Auto Writers Association’s Mid-Size Pickup Truck of Texas is the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Overland
What happens when a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is mated with a mid-size pick-up? The Jeep Gladiator! Yes, Jeep is finally back in the pickup business with its all-new 2020 Jeep® Gladiator, touted as “the most capable midsize truck ever.”
For a builder who fashions owning the ultimate go-anywhere off-road vehicle, the Jeep Wrangler would be an ideal choice. But most would consider the Wrangler a second car, driving a pickup truck of some description for their day-to-day business. Now, the Gladiator offers the option owning of a five-passenger, four-door midsize truck that essentially feels like a Wrangler inside but adds a five-foot cargo bed on the back.
Like the Wrangler, Gladiator offers the soft top roof option for open-air and has a fold-down windshield. Or you may decide to leave the top up, keep the windshield down and remove the doors for an open-air feeling without the sun exposure. No worries! There’s a bolt box for your tools that neatly fits under your seat and storage compartments under the rear seats, and multiple phone holders so nothing bounces out when you get a little wild behind the wheel or can’t resist the urge to go off-road.
The cargo bed? It has a special three-position tailgate that enables hauling 4-by-8-foot sheets of plywood. Four strong integrated tie down loops, the optional Trail Rail™ System tie-down system that mounts on the front wall and both sides of the bed, available 115-volt/400-watt power outlet at the rear of the bed are ready for all the action at the job site. Add a roll-up tonneau bed cover if you wish.
This is a practical choice! The base Gladiator Sport starts at $33,545–just $2,100 more than a base Wrangler, and it negates the need to buy two vehicles. Plus, you get a lot more with that up-charge, too. This is not just a fun vehicle that looks like a truck. Given its Jeep heritage, the off-road capability goes without saying; no surprise that it can out-climb and out-crawl every other midsize pickup. But Gladiator also borrows five-link rear suspension from its FCA cousin, the Ram 1500, to giving it an impressive 7,650 pounds tow rating and payload of 1600 lbs., rivaling the competition there, too. It sports FCA’s 3.6-liter Pentastar engine offering 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission and an eight-speed automatic transmission option.
The Gladiator’s steel frame is 31 inches longer than the Wrangler’s and its wheelbase is 19.4 inches longer, allowing for improved weight distribution and a better ride while hauling cargo. It handles and rides more like the truck that it is, but its rear seat is roomy, and it’s up to date on technology. The base model starts with a few items that might be considered a blast from the past: crank windows and manual door locks and mirrors. But Gladiator-driving building contractors are the kind that know a little extra effort won’t kill them, don’t mind getting their hands dirty at the jobsite, or their feet a little dusty off-road.
Beverly & Steve Smirnis are members of the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Texas Motor Press Association, reviewing vehicles and casting their votes at driving events where the Truck of Texas, Car of Texas and Off-Road Truck of Texas are some of the titles awarded. Follow their automotive blog on TheSavvyList.com/TheSavvyDriver