Jeep brings a Gladiator to the arena in LA

Jeep brings a Gladiator to the arena in LA”

For people not in the know, the Jeep Gladiator was the first full-size pickup trucks introduced back in 1962 and the Comanche was the last pickup truck sold by the American automaker.

In exterior styling, the Gladiator freely apes the popular JL Wrangler, incorporating much of the SUV's exterior lighting and design cues while departing in some small ways to improve capability. You get the familiar keystone-shaped grille and round headlamps, while at the rear the square tail lamps are present and correct. It's also the only truck to offer a fold-down windshield.

The Gladiator will be built in OH (production is expected to begin in the first half of 2019) in Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon trim configurations.

Jeep said it best at their reveal, "This brand didn't bring the segment to a Jeep, it brought a Jeep to the segment". Happily the 2020 Gladiator promises to be just as capable as it is handsome.

While the Gladiator's 725kg payload may be down on what we in NZ expect a ute to haul, it can still tow 3,500kg.

Q: Is the Jeep Gladiator any good at towing and hauling?

The truck is available with a removable soft top, a black hard top, or a body-colored hard top, depending on the trim level. Two "Freedom" panels make open-air driving more accessible, and all of the hardtops have a manual rear-sliding window. That makes it the only open top-pickup, and then some.

Inside, a retro dashboard gets a bold, horizontal design. To handle the extra size and weight it comes with larger axles, bigger brakes and 33-inch tyres. Inboard and outboard circular HVAC vents are surrounded by a platinum chrome bezel.

Cloth or leather-contoured seats feature accent stitching and adjustable bolster and lumbar support. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel are optional.

The rear seat bench splits 60:40 and can be folded flat for storing boxes, or lifted up into a "stadium" position to reveal a couple of under-seat cubbies.

A 3.5-inch display in the driver's instrumentation is standard, with a 7-inch screen an option.

Its interiors are seen with a standard touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto besides smartphone connectivity. Even with those touchscreens, there are dedicated controls for climate control and media volume. An audio upgrade with a removable wireless speaker can be added, too.

Underhood, the Gladiator shares its 3.6-liter, 285-horsepower V-6 with the rest of the Wrangler lineup. Unlike the gas engine, the diesel will only be offered with an eight-speed automatic. In this configuration, the pickup truck will rely on 260 hp and 442 lb-ft. A 3.0L EcoDeisel V6 with ESS and an eight speed automatic will arrive in 2020.

Jeeps says the manual Gladiator Rubicon has a crawl ratio of 84.2:1, while the automatic version's is 77.2:1 - both sufficient to climb extreme trails.

Two 4×4 systems will be available. Likewise, it will be offered with two transfer cases: the NV241 Command-Trac with a 2.72:1 low-range ratio or the NV241OR Rock-Trac with the rock-crawling 4.00:1 low-range ratio. Again it features heavy-duty 44 axles, this time with 4LO ratio of 4:1. Also standard are front & rear locking differenitals which help in delivering better traction off the beaten path.

A Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential will be optional on the Sport and Overland models. The Gladiator Rubicon can accommodate 35-inch tires under its beefy fender flares and it'll hold a 35-inch spare tire under its bed. It also has 11.1 inches of ground clearance. The Gladiator uses a five-link coil front suspension setup, one lateral control arm and four longitudinal. Gladiator braking has not been beefed up when compared to the Wrangler Rubicon, offering the same 12.9-inch rotor and twin-piston disc brakes for the front and 13.6-inch rotor and single-piston setup for the rear.

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