The Jeep Gladiator has made its debut at the ongoing 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, bringing back a classic nameplate that existed in the American carmaker’s history books. If you’ve always wanted a Wrangler but wished it had a more utilitarian focus, this is the vehicle to have.

In terms of design, the Gladiator looks pretty much like the current four-door Wrangler, albeit with a truck bed at the back. To accommodate this, Jeep made the pick-up’s frame 787 mm longer and the wheelbase gains 492 mm as well.

Other changes involve the seven-slot grille, as the grille slots have been slightly widened for additional air intake to assist with the truck’s increased towing capacity (more on that later). Around back, square taillights provide a connection to the Wrangler, while a wide tailgate allows for unobstructed loading of cargo into the bed.

The bed itself has its own nifty features like under-rail lighting, a covered external power source (400-watt, 115-volt, three-prong), strong integrated tie-downs and a Trail Rail Cargo Management System to better organise and secure cargo.

Depending on the chosen trim configuration, of which there are four (Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon), the bed can also be specified with a spray-in bed liner, bed divider, tonneau cover, protective cab and cargo bed rock rails.

Just like the Wrangler, many of the Gladiator’s body panels can be removed easily using just a tool kit with the necessary Torx bits. With some elbow grease, the windshield, doors and roof can be taken off the vehicle, allowing for a truly open-air motoring experience. On the mention of roofs, Jeep offers a premium Sunrider soft top if the conventional hardtop isn’t up to your taste.

From the driver’s seat, there’s not much that’s new with the Gladiator’s dashboard, which is nigh identical to the Wrangler. Familiar items include a 3.5- or 7-inch multi-info instrument display, 5-, 7- or 8.4-inch main touchscreen, auxiliary switches for added accessories, leather upholstery and the Uconnect infotainment system.

However, it is a different story in the back, as the base of the rear seats can be tilted up to reveal lockable storage bins underneath. You’ll still be able to fold the seatbacks down if needed, whereby you’ll be greeted by LED lights on the quarter trim panels and two storage nets on the cab-back wall.

Safety-wise, Jeep offers more than 80 active and passive safety systems, including Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection, a forward-facing off-road camera, a reverse camera with dynamic grid lines, Adaptive Cruise Control and electronic stability control (ESC) with electronic roll mitigation.

For engines, buyers will to choose between a 3.6 litre Pentastar V6 petrol unit or a 3.0 litre EcoDiesel V6. The former offers 285 hp and 352 Nm of torque, and can be paired with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile, the oil burner makes 260 hp and 599 Nm, with just an eight-speed auto as company when it is available in 2020.

To make sure the Gladiator delivers on Jeep’s legendary off-road capability claims, it gets two four-wheel drive (4×4) systems. On the Sport and Overland, there is the Command-Trac 4×4 that features a two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, as well as heavy-duty third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a 3.73 rear axle ratio.

As for the range-topping Rubicon, a Rock-Trac 4×4 system is fitted, which also comes with the Dana 44 axles, along with with a “4LO” ratio of 4:1. Gladiator Rubicon models also offer improved articulation and total suspension travel thanks to an electronic sway-bar disconnect.

All variants come with a 4.10 front and rear axle ratio and Tru-Lok locking differentials as standard but only the Rubicon has the advantage of a Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential – this is optional for the Sport and Overlord variants.

Jeep says the Gladiator in all trims are worthy of a Trail Rated badge thanks to not only its powertrains, but also a range of other equipment. These include skid plates, front and rear tow hooks, heavy-duty, winch-ready steel bumpers (Rubicon only) and 33-inch off-road tyres on up to 17-inch wheels.

Other important off-roading statistics include an approach angle of 43.6 degrees, breakover angle of 20.3 degrees, departure angle of 26 degrees and ground clearance of 281 mm. As a pick-up truck, the Gladiator has a towing capacity of up to 3,470 kg and can carry a payload of up to 725 kg.

If you desperately need to modify your Gladiator, Mopar will offer more than 200 parts and accessories so you can personalise to your heart’s content. The Gladiator will be built in Toledo, Ohio, where Jeep vehicles have rolled off the assembly line since 1941.




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