The Gladiator comes on an appropriately longer wheelbase that is 31 inches longer than that of the Wrangler Unlimited to cope with the pickup bed. It has solid axles rear and front, with a five-link coil rear suspension.
The 3.6-liter V6 engine mated to either an eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual produces 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. There is a part-time four-wheel drive system as with many pickups, so you can choose your time to employ all four tires.
FCA says it will tow 7,650 pounds, which is best in class among Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, Toyota Tacoma, etc. But you have to order the Sport trim Gladiator to hit the max. Payload limit is 1,600 pounds. The bed is five-feet long.
“They were key metrics for the why-buys,” said Jeep boss Tim Kuniskis, who established the Hellcat as a performance beast in his previous Fiat Chrysler job as Dodge commander. “The people we talked to who are owners in this segment were very clear they wanted a real truck with serious hardware that would do what they wanted to do. They didn’t want some styling statement with a bed on the back.”
The Gladiator and Ranger will round out a Detroit Three battle in the midsize pickup truck market, which GM has occupied with its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon for the past four years. With the segment up 14 percent this year and roaring toward a 500,000 sales volume, Jeep sees an opportunity to expand its brand.
The Gladiator will come in four trims: Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon.
It will be available with two 4×4 systems. The Overland and Rubicon trims will have upgraded systems. The Sport, Overland and Rubicon will all have a Trail Rated badge.
The Gladiator’s price has not been set yet and will be built in Toledo at Fiat Chrysler’s Toledo North Plant, where the automaker has built Jeeps since 1941.
“By birthright, Jeep has a right to compete in this segment,” Kuniskis said. “It’s going to compete in that segment. It’s going to set the new benchmark.”