FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) chose the Los Angeles Auto Show in November as the venue to debut its latest foray into the pickup truck market, pulling the curtain back on the all-new Jeep Gladiator. With 3,469 kilograms (7,650 pounds) of towing capacity and 725 kilograms (1,600 pounds) of payload, it’s going to be a player in the small truck segment.
Looking like an extended version of the four-door Wrangler, the Gladiator keeps up with the brand’s off-road reputation by including things like 30 inches of water fording ability. There have been plenty of concept Jeep pickups making the rounds at off-road events over the years, offering not-so-subtle hints that the brand intended to get back into the truck segment. And with the Gladiator, engineers seem to have borrowed a page from Jeep’s AMC heritage with a reincarnation of the CJ8 Scrambler (built from 1981 to 1985), which took a CJ7 chassis and stretched it into a pickup.
The Gladiator takes the Wrangler’s frame ands stretches the wheelbase 31 inches (78 centimetres). And it puts it on an amped-up coil-over suspension system.
But the Gladiator isn’t a barebones off roader. It comes with enough features to appeal to the most genteel weekend warrior. Inside, the sport and luxury feel includes a “heritage-inspired” centre stack console, push button starter and fold-up rear seats that expose open cargo bins underneath. And there are 3.5-, 7- and 8.4-inch configurable LCD touchscreen options.
With its quick release aluminum doors and removable hardtop along with a soft top option, the Gladiator clearly has a sporty side to it. Arguably, all sides of it are sporty, I suppose. It’s far from your father’s farm pickup truck.
Under the hood, the Gladiator hits the market with Jeep’s standard 3.6 litre Pentastar V-6 mated to an eight-speed transmission. For purists, there will be an optional six-speed manual available, too. But the biggest news in the powertrain department is the 3.0 litre EcoDiesel engine option. There will be two 4X4 systems and the Gladiator will continue to use Dana 44 axles at the front and rear, just like the Wrangler.
Outside the cab are features like spray-in bed liner, under-rail bed lighting, 115-volt outlets and an LED package to name a few.
The spec sheet on this Jeep is a long one. In short, it can be outfitted as a grocery getter capable of handling rugged rural Saskatchewan grid roads or a hard-core off roading rig ready for the trails at Moab, Utah.