2021 Jeep Gladiator
The New 2021 Jeep Gladiator
2021 Jeep Gladiator:
28 Years Later,
the Jeep Truck Returns
The 2021 Jeep Gladiator marks the comeback of the Jeep pickup truck after a 28-year hiatus. Built to take on the elements while providing all the capability of a truck, it comes at a time when midsize pickup trucks are making a strong comeback with vehicles like the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon, Ford Ranger, Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma.
Except this Jeep goes about doing its thing in a way no other truck has ever attempted before.
Why choose the new 2021 Jeep Gladiator?
The Magic Recipe
Up until now, the basic formula for a midsize truck was rather simple: a body-on frame construction, more than ample towing capability, and four-wheel drive to get you out of trouble.
That formula changes with the 2021 Jeep Gladiator, redefining your perception of what a midsize truck should be. Let’s resume it using three important keywords: Jeep, pickup, and convertible; a recipe that should give its competition a run for its money.
Indeed, the Gladiator runs on a Wrangler platform, but everything from the B pillar rearwards was re-engineered. Its wheelbase was stretched by a whopping 19 inches (482 mm), and its frame is 31 inches (787 mm) longer overall, making it the longest “small” truck in the segment. Its entire structure was reinforced, front and rear tracks were slightly widened, and the brakes now get ventilated discs to cope with towing realities. Heck, the Gladiator even gets the same suspension control arms as the Ram 1500. FCA didn’t mess around.
What’s more, towing capacity is up there among the top of the segment. FCA claims 7,650 lb (3,470 kg) once equipped with the appropriate tow package, placing the Gladiator right smack between a Ford Ranger (7,500 lb / 3,401 kg) and a Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon (7,700 lb / 3,493 kg). Max payload is rated at 1,600 lb (725 kg).
Speaking to Jeep Owners
All Gladiators come with four doors and a five-foot box. And being a Jeep means that, yes, the Gladiator can remove its roof, doors and windshield, a feature no other pickup truck currently offers.
For now, only one engine powers it; FCA’s tried and proven 3.6-litre Pentastar V6. It’s good here for 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, and comes mated, as standard, to a six-speed manual gearbox across the model range. An eight-speed automatic transmission is optional for $1,795 extra.
And very soon, a 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 will join the party, promising 260 horsepower and a lofty 442 lb-ft of torque.
Of course, all Gladiators come standard with a two-speed four-wheel drive system. And like the Wrangler, the Rubicon trim comes with removable sway bars, Dana 44 axles with locking differentials, a lifted suspension, 33-inch tires, skid plates, a very witty off-road camera fitted with a sprinkler to clean it, as well as tow hooks. Fun fact: most Wrangler Mopar accessories fit on a Gladiator, which means if you already own a Jeep, you won’t need to buy new parts for your truck.
More refined, but Still a Jeep
On the road, the longer wheelbase and suspension setup are instantly felt as the Gladiator’s ride is much smoother and refined than its sibling. Chassis wobble and swaying have been toned down, but don’t expect the Gladiator to drive like a luxury sedan. After all, it’s still a Jeep.
That said, the Gladiator is a much more comfortable place to spend some time in than its main rivals. As a matter of fact, except for perhaps a Ridgeline, its cabin is considerably more spacious and comfortable than all other trucks of this class, not mentioning one of the most interesting dashboard designs on the market. Ergonomics are also a Gladiator strongpoint, where all controls, both physical and haptic, are easy to grasp and comprehend. As always, we congratulate FCA’s UConnect infotainment interface for being so simple and enjoyable to use.
The V6 engine pulls strong, offers plenty of low-end grunt, and even sounds alright the moment you gun the throttle, providing more than ample acceleration for a truck of this size and weight.
There is also nothing negative to say about the manual gearbox. It’s precise, enjoyable to row through the gears – a net improvement over past Jeep transmissions – with a light clutch and firm friction point. The calibration of the ZF-sourced automatic is also impressive but can prove a tad sloppy during towing. However, the fact that the transmission automatically detects the trailer, means there’s no in-car configuration required, facilitating your hauling activities.
Try to Follow me Boys
What the Gladiator loses in sophistication, it makes up for in off-road capability. Even in base trim, it’s a genuine adventure machine that was tested on the gruelling trails of the Rubicon. Sure, its longer wheelbase does remove a bit of its flexibility in the rocks, but with a 40.8-degree approach angle, and a 25-degree departure angle, the Gladiator has a net advantage on its rivals. Except for perhaps a Tacoma TRD Pro, or a Colorado ZR2, we fear none of the Gladiator’s rivals can follow it in a rough trail.
Simply put, no other midsize truck on the market can do so much of the box. That’s because the Gladiator is first and foremost a Jeep. That’s when you realize how accomplished the final product is, because it’s so unique. Sure, it’s a toy, and for some, an expensive one, but it’s worth every penny.
The simple fact that the 2021 Jeep Gladiator is a plain out cool and desirable machine, one that makes you smile all while accomplishing truck duties while leaving intact the endearing Jeep qualities we love so much makes it a winning formula for everyone.