Well, just when you thought the mid-size truck class was getting crowded when Ranger in December joined, Frontier, Tacoma, Colorado and Canyon, now we have a 2020 Jeep Gladiator. Ram has announced a new Dakota, or something like it, will be coming. Just proves everyone wants a truck. I liked the Gladiators from the 60s with the big fender flares and tall grill. I was hoping the new 2020 Gladiator would have some of the original heritage look. But its front half is the Jeep Wrangler. At the rear seat, the cab is longer making a dramatically longer truck — longest mid-size cab for adult size rear leg room. Now it does have a locking front and rear differential on Dana 44 axles and a disconnecting front stabilizer bar like the Jeep Rubicon and Ram Power Wagon. Jeep Wrangler folks are very loyal, which gives Jeep an automatic market and Jeep is making tons of money for FCA. Engine choices are one, the Pentastar 3.6L V-6 gas engine 285 horsepower, 260 torque and a 6-speed manual transmission or 8-speed automatic are at a $2,000 premium. Axle ratios are a 3.73 or 4.10 option.
Next year the new Turbocharged Ecodiesel 3.0L Ram V-6 will be available, same one that’s coming back to the Ram 1500. Pared to the 8-speed automatic with 442 torque. Three models of Gladiator starting with Sport S with the trailing capacity of 7,650 pounds and 1,600 pounds of payload. The midline is the Overland and the top of the line is Rubicon with the lockable Dana axles, 33 inch all-terrain tires and a special low range Rock-Track transfer case for a towing capacity of 7,000 pounds. Gladiator is 19 inches longer (137 inch wheelbase) than a four-door Wrangler. This will help with trailering and better road ride but will hurt with break-over angle when you’re off-roading.
One of the most unique features of the Gladiator is the various removable tops. You can take off the doors, fold down the windshield and take off the two piece roof like a T-roof, roll the canvas roof back and open the whole top or take off a hard top. I’ve always wanted a convertible truck.
Same rear suspension as a Ram 1500, Fox shocks Class 4 receiver hitch, well armored with skid plates and rock rail on the sides. So far I’ve driven it on highways and it handled well. Front and rear sway bars help the handling. Solid axles front and rear are off-roaders favorite. I was surprised that the steering is a recirculating ball like heavy duties. I guess you have to have independent front axles to use rack and pinion. The steering was fine on winding mountain roads. In a few weeks I’ll tow trailers and give my conclusions.
The tailgate, using the cables that keep the tailgate open, can hook up 1/2 way to allow the tailgate to extend the cargo area. All the beds are 5 feet. A front camera, is a big deal for off roading. When all you can see is sky climbing hills, it’s nice to see where the ground went before you fall off the cliff. And the front camera has a water squirter cleaner button. Of course a rear backup camera. An exciting time in the truck industry, lots more all new truck reviews coming this year. ❖
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