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You need to know about the Jeep Gladiator

WORDS BY ISAAC BOBER, IMAGES BY MANUFACTURER

5 Things

The Jeep Gladiator won’t go on-sale here until later this yarn and it’s so much more than just a Wrangler with a tray.

The Jeep Gladiator is the first factory-built Jeep pickup in around 25 years. We’ll get into the history shortly. One thing that’s worth pointing out right off the bat is the fact the only Jeep Gladiator we’ll get in Australia will be the petrol-engined variant… those wanting the diesel can leave the room now.

There is an awful lot of hype surrounding the Jeep Gladiator with reviews in the US calling it the hottest thing since sliced bread… but Americans are like that. See, despite all the hoopla, it’s worth slowing down and taking a closer look at the Gladiator. From an Australian perspective, this isn’t as easy as you might think. See, while Unsealed 4X4 attended the recent international launch in New Zealand, we can’t tell you what the Gladiator is like to drive until next week (January 15, 4.05pm) – this article was meant to be a drive impression – and, even then we won’t have much local detail. That will all be released closer to the local launch of the Gladiator which is expected around April this year.

What we can try and do, is pick through the data and information we do know to look at things like the claims around segment-best towing capacity, its load-carrying ability and its general off-road capability.

VEHICLES Jeep Gladiator

The Jeep Gladiator became a thing back in 1963 and remained a thing until 1987 (although the Gladiator name was dropped in 1972) before being retired completely until 2018. It was based on a Jeep Wagoneer and could be had as a short-wheelbase (until 1965) extended bed, and plenty of other options besides, in either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. But the Gladiator goes back further than that. The original Jeep pickup (no Gladiator name until 1963) was based on the CJ-20 appeared in 1947 and remained in production until 1965.

In 1981, the CJ-8 Scrambler appeared and was very closely related to the CJ-7 just with a longer wheelbase. It was known around the world as the CJ-8 and was available in either hard, or soft-top. Less than 30,000 were built with production stopping in 1985.

Following the demise of the CJ-8, the Jeep Comanche appeared in 1986 and hung around until 1992. Based on the Cherokee platform and very similar in spec, the Comanche copped a six-foot bed in 1987 while later versions came with either Selec-Trac or Command-Trac four-wheel drive.

History lesson
1

“There is an awful lot of hype surrounding the Jeep Gladiator with reviews in the US calling it the hottest thing since sliced bread… but Americans are like that."

Sure, the Gladiator looks like it has the same snout as a Wrangler but look closer.... those gaps in the grille are wider than those on the Wrangler, and that’s because Jeep expects people who buy the Gladiator will want to tow – the wider slots improve airflow for cooling.

Family looks
2

The Gladiator measures 5539mm long (the Wrangler measures 4700mm) and that makes it longer than the Ford Ranger, although the Gladiator’s tray measures 1531mm long. And that is shorter than the Ranger’s tray which is 1549mm long. But it’s swings and roundabouts because the wheelbase on the Gladiator is much longer than the Ranger, measuring 3487mm compared with 3220mm.

Ground clearance is something else the Gladiator has on its side. According to Jeep, ground clearance runs from 253mm to 283mm on the Gladiator Rubicon (US-spec). And, unlike most other ute makers that fluff ground clearance claims, Jeep is usually measures accurately (to the bottom of the diff pumpkin).

The load height on the Gladiator’s tray is 885mm with the tailgate down and the width of the opening is 1270mm. There’s 1137mm between the wheel arches. And the Gladiator’s tray has some clever touches that show how Jeep thinks this thing will be used. For instance, the tailgate has been designed so it can be partially opened and locked in three different positions, with the width of the tray measured not in whether it’ll fit a pallet but in whether it’ll hold plywood sheets on top of the wheel arches and within the tray. There’s an assister spring on the tailgate to make it easy to open and close the tailgate.

Where the Gladiator might be better at holding its weight than its key competitors is that the tray is intended to get close to being 50:50 forwards and rear of the back axle.

The Tray
3

Depending on the variant, the Gladiator, based on US specs (because Jeep Australia wouldn’t release local specs at the launch in New Zealand) is rated to tow a braked maximum of between 1800kg and 3469kg. In determining the Gross Combined Mass (GCM), Jeep allows for a driver weighing 150 pounds or 68kg which is added to the kerb weight of the vehicle. So, the GCM for the Gladiator, depending on the variant, ranges from 4127kg through to 5800kg.

Let’s take a closer look at the Gladiator Rubicon with a 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine and an eight-speed automatic. This has a kerb weight of 2301kg (2291kg manual) and can tow a maximum braked trailer weighing 3175kg (on the direct conversion) and a GCM which is the heaviest the combination can weigh, including the 68kg for the driver, of 5647kg. There’s no mention of a towball download weight which is generally, but not always, calculated in Australia as 10% of the maximum braked trailer weight.

Independently of when you’re towing Jeep calculates a payload of 526kg for the automatic (1160lb). However, when you’re towing the maximum braked capacity of 3175kg then there’s just 171kg of payload left and that’s before you take into account extra passengers, towball download, and so on. How different these numbers will be when the Gladiator arrives Down Under we’ll have to wait and see… and whether we’ll get access to the Max Tow package which beefs up the maximum braked capacity is still unknown.

How much can it tow?
4

Jeep claims the Gladiator offers up to 283mm of ground clearance and with past Jeep’s we’ve checked they all seem to be measuring ground clearance in the conventional way; from the ground to the lowest part of the vehicle (usually the diff pumpkin).

It comes standard on 33-inch all-terrain tyres (but it’s capable of taking 35-inch tyres – whether, like the Wrangler, that’ll be the case in Australia remains to be seen). Approach angles of 43.4-degrees, rampover of 20.3-degrees and departure angles of 26-degrees. Water fording is a claimed 762mm.

The Rubicon features a Rock-Trac 4X4 system with third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a “4LO” ratio of 4:1. A 4.10 front and rear axle ratio is standard as are Tru-Lok locking differentials. With the standard six-speed manual transmission, Gladiator Rubicon has a crawl ratio of 84.2:1, and 77.2:1 on Rubicon models equipped with the optional eight-speed automatic.

Obviously, we’ve driven the thing in New Zealand but because of the embargo we can’t tell you what it’s like to drive until later in the month (January 15, 4.05pm). Sorry. Stay tuned to unsealed4X4.com.au

Is it better than the Wrangler?
5

VEHICLES Jeep Gladiator

You need to know about the Jeep Gladiator

The Jeep Gladiator won’t go on-sale here until later this yarn and it’s so much more than just a Wrangler with a tray.

WORDS BY ISAAC BOBER, IMAGES BY MANUFACTURER

The Jeep Gladiator is the first factory-built Jeep pickup in around 25 years. We’ll get into the history shortly. One thing that’s worth pointing out right off the bat is the fact the only Jeep Gladiator we’ll get in Australia will be the petrol-engined variant… those wanting the diesel can leave the room now.

There is an awful lot of hype surrounding the Jeep Gladiator with reviews in the US calling it the hottest thing since sliced bread… but Americans are like that. See, despite all the hoopla, it’s worth slowing down and taking a closer look at the Gladiator. From an Australian perspective, this isn’t as easy as you might think. See, while Unsealed 4X4 attended the recent international launch in New Zealand, we can’t tell you what the Gladiator is like to drive until next week (January 15, 4.05pm) – this article was meant to be a drive impression – and, even then we won’t have much local detail. That will all be released closer to the local launch of the Gladiator which is expected around April this year.

What we can try and do, is pick through the data and information we do know to look at things like the claims around segment-best towing capacity, its load-carrying ability and its general off-road capability.

5 Things
History lesson
1

The Jeep Gladiator became a thing back in 1963 and remained a thing until 1987 (although the Gladiator name was dropped in 1972) before being retired completely until 2018. It was based on a Jeep Wagoneer and could be had as a short-wheelbase (until 1965) extended bed, and plenty of other options besides, in either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. But the Gladiator goes back further than that. The original Jeep pickup (no Gladiator name until 1963) was based on the CJ-20 appeared in 1947 and remained in production until 1965.

In 1981, the CJ-8 Scrambler appeared and was very closely related to the CJ-7 just with a longer wheelbase. It was known around the world as the CJ-8 and was available in either hard, or soft-top. Less than 30,000 were built with production stopping in 1985.

Following the demise of the CJ-8, the Jeep Comanche appeared in 1986 and hung around until 1992. Based on the Cherokee platform and very similar in spec, the Comanche copped a six-foot bed in 1987 while later versions came with either Selec-Trac or Command-Trac four-wheel drive.

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“There is an awful lot of hype surrounding the Jeep Gladiator with reviews in the US calling it the hottest thing since sliced bread… but Americans are like that."

Family looks
2

Sure, the Gladiator looks like it has the same snout as a Wrangler but look closer.... those gaps in the grille are wider than those on the Wrangler, and that’s because Jeep expects people who buy the Gladiator will want to tow – the wider slots improve airflow for cooling.

The Tray
3

The Gladiator measures 5539mm long (the Wrangler measures 4700mm) and that makes it longer than the Ford Ranger, although the Gladiator’s tray measures 1531mm long. And that is shorter than the Ranger’s tray which is 1549mm long. But it’s swings and roundabouts because the wheelbase on the Gladiator is much longer than the Ranger, measuring 3487mm compared with 3220mm.

Ground clearance is something else the Gladiator has on its side. According to Jeep, ground clearance runs from 253mm to 283mm on the Gladiator Rubicon (US-spec). And, unlike most other ute makers that fluff ground clearance claims, Jeep is usually measures accurately (to the bottom of the diff pumpkin).

The load height on the Gladiator’s tray is 885mm with the tailgate down and the width of the opening is 1270mm. There’s 1137mm between the wheel arches. And the Gladiator’s tray has some clever touches that show how Jeep thinks this thing will be used. For instance, the tailgate has been designed so it can be partially opened and locked in three different positions, with the width of the tray measured not in whether it’ll fit a pallet but in whether it’ll hold plywood sheets on top of the wheel arches and within the tray. There’s an assister spring on the tailgate to make it easy to open and close the tailgate.

Where the Gladiator might be better at holding its weight than its key competitors is that the tray is intended to get close to being 50:50 forwards and rear of the back axle.

How much can it tow?
4

Depending on the variant, the Gladiator, based on US specs (because Jeep Australia wouldn’t release local specs at the launch in New Zealand) is rated to tow a braked maximum of between 1800kg and 3469kg. In determining the Gross Combined Mass (GCM), Jeep allows for a driver weighing 150 pounds or 68kg which is added to the kerb weight of the vehicle. So, the GCM for the Gladiator, depending on the variant, ranges from 4127kg through to 5800kg.

Let’s take a closer look at the Gladiator Rubicon with a 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine and an eight-speed automatic. This has a kerb weight of 2301kg (2291kg manual) and can tow a maximum braked trailer weighing 3175kg (on the direct conversion) and a GCM which is the heaviest the combination can weigh, including the 68kg for the driver, of 5647kg. There’s no mention of a towball download weight which is generally, but not always, calculated in Australia as 10% of the maximum braked trailer weight.

Independently of when you’re towing Jeep calculates a payload of 526kg for the automatic (1160lb). However, when you’re towing the maximum braked capacity of 3175kg then there’s just 171kg of payload left and that’s before you take into account extra passengers, towball download, and so on. How different these numbers will be when the Gladiator arrives Down Under we’ll have to wait and see… and whether we’ll get access to the Max Tow package which beefs up the maximum braked capacity is still unknown.

Is it better than the Wrangler?
5

Jeep claims the Gladiator offers up to 283mm of ground clearance and with past Jeep’s we’ve checked they all seem to be measuring ground clearance in the conventional way; from the ground to the lowest part of the vehicle (usually the diff pumpkin).

It comes standard on 33-inch all-terrain tyres (but it’s capable of taking 35-inch tyres – whether, like the Wrangler, that’ll be the case in Australia remains to be seen). Approach angles of 43.4-degrees, rampover of 20.3-degrees and departure angles of 26-degrees. Water fording is a claimed 762mm.

The Rubicon features a Rock-Trac 4X4 system with third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a “4LO” ratio of 4:1. A 4.10 front and rear axle ratio is standard as are Tru-Lok locking differentials. With the standard six-speed manual transmission, Gladiator Rubicon has a crawl ratio of 84.2:1, and 77.2:1 on Rubicon models equipped with the optional eight-speed automatic.

Obviously, we’ve driven the thing in New Zealand but because of the embargo we can’t tell you what it’s like to drive until later in the month (January 15, 4.05pm). Sorry. Stay tuned to unsealed4X4.com.au