Jeep fans rejoice, because salvation is here; the savior has arrived; the great prophecy has at last come true. That's right: a factory-built Wrangler pickup truck is really, finally, actually joining the Jeep lineup. The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is a new truck designed to do everything a regular Wrangler can do, from scampering over boulders to cruising without a roof or doors. It's the ultimate expression of Jeep's utilitarian image.
What's New for 2020
The Gladiator is all-new for 2020.
Choosing Your Jeep Gladiator
Don’t let anyone tell you that the Gladiator is just a Wrangler with a bed. Behind that familiar seven-slot front end lies a host of updates, changes, and improvements intended to turn a capable off-roader into a capable pickup truck.
The most striking difference is length. Compared to the four-door Wrangler, the Gladiator rides on a wheelbase that's a full 19 inches longer; between the bumpers there's 31 additional inches. Despite being detrimental for off-roading purposes, the extra length allows for a 5-foot bed with a payload capacity of 1,600 pounds. The redesigned underpinnings help give the Gladiator a maximum towing capacity of 7,650 pounds, which is more than double that of the Wrangler.
Like the Wrangler, the Gladiator comes standard with four-wheel drive and a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 making 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but an eight-speed automatic is a $2,000 option. Fuel economy checks in at 16 miles per gallon city, 23 mpg highway, and 19 combined with the manual, or 17/22/19 mpg (city/highway/combined) with the automatic.
Later in the year, a 3.0-liter diesel V6 will join the options sheet. Jeep says this engine should make 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. It'll mate exclusively to the eight-speed automatic, which has been beefed up to handle the additional twisting power.
All Gladiators come as four-door models with the 5-foot bed. A soft top comes standard, though all trims but the base Sport offer a body-color hardtop as an option. In proper Jeep fashion, both roof designs can be completely removed, the doors can be left at home, and the windshield folds down just as it does in the Wrangler.
A number of packages are available across most trim levels. The Cargo Management Group with Trail Rail System ($895) eases cargo concerns with four bed-mounted anchoring points and three box rails, a 115-volt power outlet in the bed, and a lockable storage compartment under the rear seat. Residents of parts of the country that get snow will appreciate the Cold Weather Group ($695), which bundles heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and remote start. Meanwhile, smokers can get an ashtray and lighter for $30.
Those looking to haul will want to consider the two towing packages on offer. The Trailer Tow Group ($250) includes a class IV hitch, a heavy-duty alternator, and a heavy-duty cooling system. For a bit more pulling power, the Max Tow Package ($995) includes all the former as well as wide-track Dana 44 axles front and rear with 4.10 axle ratios, body-color fender flares, and different tires.
Despite a styling motif that hearkens back to the Eisenhower years, the Gladiator offers modern active-safety features on all trim levels. The available equipment is split into two packages: the Active Safety Group ($995) and the Advanced Safety Group ($795). The former includes audible rear park assist, blind-spot monitoring, and LED taillights; the latter comes with adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning. Notably absent from the Gladiator is automatic emergency braking, which isn't available on any of the four trims.
There’s no questioning the virility of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator in any guise. But which trim makes the most sense from a financially practical standpoint? We’d argue the Overland. The $3,650 premium over the Sport S brings a boatload additional features, including the 7-inch touchscreen that’s a $2,085 upgrade on the lower-spec rig. Just add one of the tow packages and you’ll have a highly capable hauler that’s ready for work and play.