Jeep Gladiator vs. Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

By

Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - June 4, 2019

Saying that consumers have been waiting for a new pickup truck from Jeep is a massive understatement. It’s been nearly 30 years since Jeep last sold a pickup, and the new Gladiator measures up to the hype by offering the versatility of a pickup, while staying true to the Jeep brand’s off-roading history. While the Gladiator may be based on a Wrangler, it’s so much more than just a SUV with a pickup bed.

For consumers that don’t need the pickup body, Jeep continues to offer the four-door Wrangler Unlimited. The Wrangler Unlimited may not be all-new like the Gladiator, but it continues to offer off-roading capabilities, extensive customization, and the latest technology in an old-school design.

We compare the Gladiator and the Wrangler Unlimited to see which is the better fit for the majority of consumers.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Gladiator & Wrangler Unlimited »

What the Gladiator Gets Right

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but if you’re looking to do any kind of heavy-duty tasks – hauling and towing – the Jeep Gladiator is the better option of the two. When it comes to towing, the Gladiator is rated to tow 7,650 pounds. The Wrangler Unlimited can only manage to tow 3,500 pounds. Then there’s payload capacity, which is also in the Gladiator’s favor. The pickup can haul 1,600 pounds, while the Wrangler Unlimited is rated at 1,000 pounds.

While the Wrangler Unlimited has a traditional SUV body, the Gladiator is offered with a 5-foot bed. This may be relatively short compared to other pickups on the market, but the damped tailgate allows for larger items to fit in the back. Plywood, drywall, and 2x4s can all be packed into the Gladiator’s bed without intruding on passenger space. The Wrangler Unlimited can’t do that.

What the Wrangler Unlimited Gets Right

The Wrangler Unlimited gets the upper hand when it comes to price. Pricing for an entry-level 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited starts at $33,040 including destination, while the Gladiator is slightly more expensive at $35,040. Then there’s the number of available trims, which is also in the Wrangler Unlimited's favor. The Wrangler Unlimited is offered in seven trims; the Gladiator is only offered in four.

Engine configurations are also in the Wrangler Unlimited’s corner. At the time of writing, the Gladiator is only available with a 285-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6, which is also offered in the Wrangler Unlimited. The Wrangler Unlimited can also be fitted with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that features a mild-hybrid setup. Output for the powertrain is rated at 270 hp. With the available four-cylinder, the Wrangler Unlimited is the more fuel-efficient option with an EPA-estimated 22 miles per gallon combined. The Gladiator lags behind at 19 mpg combined.

Need to Tow?

If Home Depot runs and towing large cargo are something you plan to do on a regular basis, the Gladiator’s handy pickup bed and more impressive towing capacity make it the obvious candidate over the Wrangler Unlimited. The fact that the truck doesn’t necessarily give up any room when it comes to off-roading means you won’t have to trade getting dirty for being able to tackle heavy-duty tasks.

Our Verdict: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

For the majority of people, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited will be a better fit. Not everyone needs a pickup truck, and Jeep’s four-door Wrangler remains a benchmark when it comes to off-roading. Drivers spending a lot of time in cities will also enjoy the Wrangler Unlimited’s smaller proportions and available four-cylinder engine.

Take a closer look at the Jeep Gladiator »

Take a closer look at the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter | Website

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