2023 Jeep Gladiator
With midsize pickup truck market on the rise with new vehicles and increased competition, we often forget that the Jeep Gladiator still competes in this segment.
It is easy to forget, since some people see the Gladiator as a Wrangler with a truck bed. It not far from the truth, but it is certainly a vehicle that stands on its own merits as a pickup truck.
How does it stand alone in a segment full of new offerings?
First off, the Gladiator was built for off-road capability while its competitors had to develop their four-wheel-drive systems from a basic pickup truck. However, Stellantis and Jeep want potential customers to know that this Wrangler with a box in the back is also a powerful midsized pickup truck.
The front part of the Gladiator is exactly the one that is found on a Wrangler Unlimited/4-door. The seven-slot grille with single circle lighting units are presented in a traditional style going as far back as World War II. The bold fenders flank the sides until you get to the cab. Our Sport tester came with full length side running steps, which is something you normally do not find on most Wranglers. Access to the rear seat is through a small opening. Passengers need to be careful accessing the rear seat by avoiding contact with the door latch.
All Gladiators offer the ability to remove the doors from the vehicle. The “hardtop” roof panels above the front seats are removable by even a single hand. The rest of the hardtop and the doors will require tools for removal – and a place to store them, while you head off with them.
The big difference between the Gladiator and the 4-door Wrangler is the box in the rear. The steel five-foot long box has a maximum payload capacity of 1,710 pounds. The box adds 30 more inches to the length of the Gladiator from the 4-door Wrangler. The Gladiator also rides on a longer wheelbase – 19 inches more than the Wrangler 4-door.
Our Sport tester wore silver-painted 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires. Our white unit had its removable hardtop painted in black.
Inside, the Wrangler’s flat dashboard offers an instrument binnacle with two analog dials and a digital TFT screen in-between them. The UConnect 4’s 7-inch touchscreen dominates the center of the dashboard with audio and climate controls directly below. The power window switches are also on the center stack, instead of on the doors. One thing that is refreshing for off-road enthusiasts is the lever for the part-time four-wheel-drive system, instead of a knob in most other pickup trucks.
Up front, there are two large cloth-upholstered seats with manual adjustments for height, rake, recline, and lumbar support. Tall drivers may want to be careful with the roll bar right above their head. Rear seat passengers are fine, as long as they are average sized or smaller children.
Our Gladiator tester came with the 285-horsepower Pentastar 3.6-liter V6. This proven engine helps handle the 1,710-pound payload and can tow up to 7,700 pounds. Our tester had the available 8-speed automatic transmission with its power sent to a two-speed transfer case onward to Jeep’s proven part-time four-wheel-drive system.
Performance was fine. It did struggle on some passing maneuvers and tried its best to keep up with highway traffic. In terms of fuel economy, we averaged 20.1 MPG.
For a mid-sized pickup truck, the ride quality is pretty good. It absorbs bumps in the road well. We experienced some wind buffeting due to its squared design that challenged us to keep the Gladiator in the lane. Otherwise, it handles quite well by keeping it together through evasive maneuvers.
The steering system is on the soft side. There is some play in the steering wheel when the truck is on-center. However, we found the turning radius to be quite good, making tight turns with ease. The brakes are also pretty good, with a good pedal feel and strong stopping power.
Pricing for the Jeep Gladiator start at $39,620 with eight trim levels available. Our Sport model came with a sticker price of $47,885.
Having been around for a few years, the Gladiator continues to compete in a segment that has evolved with updated and all-new models of late. That competitive set includes the Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, and Honda Ridgeline.
If you’re looking for a midsize pickup truck from Stellantis and cannot wait for Ram Trucks to introduce something in that segment, you have the Jeep Gladiator. It will simply do the job – the Jeep way!
Credits: CarSoup Editors