Jeep’s new fighter in the arena: Gladiator | Daily News


Jeep’s new fighter in the arena: Gladiator

Every week, we will feature a car that is new (or face-lifted) to our market. We will also include cars that will come to these shores in the near future. This week that honour goes to the all-new Jeep Gladiator - Jeep’s first Pick Up truck in 27 years.

The all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator, due to be launched in Sri Lanka soon, has been selected by 60 automotive journalists as North American Truck of the Year. Runner-ups for Truck of the Year are the 2020 Ford Ranger (now available in a Raptor edition in Sri Lanka) and the 2020 Ram Heavy Duty, which is unfortunately not available in this country as there is no factory right-hand drive production or a local dealership. Just last week, the Four Wheeler Network too selected the Jeep Gladiator as the Pick Up Truck of the Year.

Gladiator was engineered from the ground up to be the most off-road capable midsize truck. The 100% Jeep design combines rugged utility, open-air freedom, clever functionality and versatility, and best-in-class towing. All three models — Sport, Rubicon, Overland — will seat five adults comfortably. It fits the needs and wants of several demographic groups because it is a Jeep, a truck, and a four-wheel off-road mountain climber.

With the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine and a versatile cargo box, Gladiator is ready to handle the demands of an active lifestyle. “Whether camping is your thing, or hiking the Dunes, Gladiator is your vehicle,” said a Jeep spokesman. The top and doors can be removed. The new 2020 Jeep Gladiator, the Jeep brand’s return to the pickup truck market after an absence of 27 years, might look like a Wrangler with a pickup bed, but Jeep insists that it’s so much more than that: Less than half of the parts in the Gladiator (“JT” platform) are shared with latest Wrangler, (“JL”) which is also available here. Given the truck’s increased capabilities over Jeep’s iconic four-wheel-drive SUV, it is safe to say that the Gladiator is much more a pickup truck than simply a modified SUV.

All of this adds up to two notable sensations — first, this is the best-riding Wrangler-derived vehicle ever made. No Wrangler rides this smoothly, with this level of bump-absorbing skill. Rough pavement, no problem. Rocky field, ditto. On smooth roads, it feels like a Lexus.

The long wheelbase and the heavier-duty suspension smooth out just about everything. Off-road, the Gladiator displays the same absolute domination of the environment that the Wrangler does, with systems, technology and designs that help it conquer whatever challenge you throw it into. Suffice it to say that it does virtually everything a Wrangler can do off-road, which is more than any other off-road mid-size pickup truck can do.

The top-spec Gladiator is the Rubicon trim, just like on the Wrangler, and it features all of the bells and whistles that make Jeeps unparalleled in their off-road ability. If you engage this button while in 4-High, it will assume you’re driving through sand, and adjust the throttle and stability control settings accordingly; if you engage it while in 4-Low, it assumes you are traversing rocky, low-speed terrain and adjusts the systems for that.

But if all you cared about was cruising around without doors and climbing mountain trails, you would be buying a Wrangler. The reason for the Gladiator is that 5-foot, all-steel pickup bed. It may not be as long as the extended beds on the Ford Ranger, but it is meant more for lifestyle buyers than work truck owners. The tailgate has two open positions: fully open, and tilted out slightly thanks to some clever cable stays. A spray-in bedliner is optional and there are several tie-down points, an available rack system and many Mopar accessory parts meant for securing anything from bikes or motorcycles to kayaks or surfboards in back.

In the end, it is in a class of one — there is no other pickup truck in the world that can do what the Gladiator can do off-road or on-road while offering tons of technology and the ability to turn the thing into a topless, doorless, windshield-less dune buggy in a matter of minutes. Until a competitor comes along that can match the Gladiator for its massive abilities and unique amenities, it rests comfortably in a category of its own.

Jeep has no intention of letting go of its latest toy, with several more versions to follow - the new Gladiator Mojave is the first Jeep to receive the new “Desert Rated” badge, which means it is certified for high-speed off-road performance in desert-like conditions. This entails even more rigorous testing than the “Trail Rated” designation found on many Jeeps. It includes tests for ride control and stability, traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, and what Jeeps calls “desert prowess” — withstanding the heat, sand, gravel and dust one would encounter in the desert.

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