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Review: 2020 Jeep Gladiator

Posted by Motorama in Vehicle Reviews

Take one of the most legendary offroaders - the Jeep Wrangler - add a ute tray and the result is the long awaited Jeep Gladiator. That's the short story, but there is much more going on with the Jeep Gladiator.

Initial Impression

The Jeep Gladiator! The 'one and only convertible lifestyle truck in the world' with it's completely removable roof (and doors)! You can be sure to turn some heads when driving it down the road - or the beach, or over the nearest mountain. It's undeniably got road presence with its rugged looks, and though when seen from the front, the Gladiator might be mistaken for a Wrangler, the moment it passes by and you see the tray, it becomes clear that it's a different beast.

With its beefy tyres, wide body and plethora of accessories most Jeep owners like to put on to customise their prized possession, every Gladiator will be unique. Because it's brand-new you won't see many around too soon either, which makes it really eye-catching. Now imagine popping off the roof when cruising down the beach and you understand why 'lifestyle' is such an important aspect of the Gladiator.

Driveability

Judging by the looks of the Gladiator - very similar to those of the Wrangler - you might think it drives the same as well. Due to the longer wheelbase, it drives significantly different to the Wrangler, which makes it more comfortable on-road as well. Plus, that extra length gives the Gladiator more stability on all surfaces, along with the new rear suspension that Jeep added for a smoother ride.

Like the Wrangler, the Gladiator makes light work of the toughest terrain off-road. Both the Overland and Rubicon come with the same engine - the reliable Pentastar 3.6 litres V6 petrol that puts out 209kW and 353Nm - which is plenty to tackle any terrain, and to be able to overtake on the highway. With a fuel claim of 12L/100km, it's not the most efficient car on the road, but considering its unique boxy looks and size, it's not bad at all partly thanks to its sophisticated eight-speed automatic transmission.

It's the Rubicon that outclasses anything driving offroad with its coil-spring live axles front and rear, 33-inch tyres, proper ground clearance, part-time 4WD with a lever-selectable 4:1 transfer case, locking diffs front and rear, a swaybar disconnect system up front and robust underbody protection. Hard to find an obstacle the Gladiator can't tackle.

Liveability

Inside, the Gladiator has an upright dashboard that mimics the Wrangler's and supports user-friendly, sturdy and durable controls. Think waterproof push-button start and easily washable carpets, trim and hard wearing materials. Everything feels solid, no nonsense and workmanlike, whilst you do get the comfort of a heated steering wheel and front seats.  In the centre console, you'll find a wall of buttons and the 8.4-inch infotainment display comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus two USB's, and a USB-C port in front.

Because of its traditional boxy design, old-school doors and over 5.5 metres of length, the space inside is optimal, with plenty of leg room in the back. The seats themselves are well sculpted, and the high-riding driving position is comfortable with excellent visibility throughout. This is of course improved even further if you take the roof and doors off completely - and go convertible!

The tray's load space is 1442mm wide – 1137mm between the wheel-arches - so not wide enough for a pallet – and it is 1531mm long. The Gladiator has a claimed just over 600kg payload and can tow almost 3 tonne, so if it's not big enough inside, you can always throw it in the back or tow it behind you.

Cost

The Jeep Gladiator is available in two variants: Overland and Rubicon. The Overland costs just about $75k, the latter $1000 more. Both come with the same V6 petrol engine and eight speed gearbox. The Overland is equipped with Jeep’s Selec-Trac Active On-Demand 4x4 system.

Standard safety equipment includes Forward Collision Warning Plus, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Path Detection. You also get remote proximity keyless entry and a nine-speaker Alpine audio system.

So what does that grand give you? A more advanced Rock-Trac Active On-Demand II 4x4 system, front electronic swaybar disconnect to improve axle articulation, front and rear locking differentials, an Off-Road+ Button and upgraded FOX-branded two-inch diameter shock absorbers.

The Overland model features body-colour hard-top and fender flares, whilst the Rubicon features a black hard- top roof and black fender flares.

Jeep offers the Gladiator (and its entire range) with the 'There and Back' guarantee, which affords customers a five-year warranty, capped price servicing ($399 every 12 months or 12,000km for petrol/20,000km for diesel engines) and lifetime roadside assistance.

Conclusion

Perhaps even more than an offroad beast, versatile ute or rugged machine, the Jeep Gladiator is a lifestyle. Yes, it's a proper off-road-focused 4WD, that also handles beautifully on the tarmac as well. And you can haul a load in it with all the flexibility you desire. What the Gladiator has that the competition are lacking however, is personality. Charisma. You choose to drive it with your heart and want to make it your own. Take it for a leisurely drive, just as much as bashing it down the tracks. But the best way to enjoy it is has to be with the top off, cruising down the beach on a glorious summer's day! That's the Gladiator lifestyle.

Interested in a test drive? Motorama Jeep is the place to be - so make sure you come and see the Motorama Jeep team in Moorooka or Springwood.

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