Jeep’s truck returns!

A generation of young drivers may not be aware of Jeep trucks, which were first introduced by Willys-Overland in 1947 and continued through to the Jeep Comanche pickup (1986 – 1992). Jeep chose its 2018 LA Auto Show press conference to reveal the all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator, which revives its name from the 1963 – 1972 Jeep Gladiator pickup truck.

While it certainly looked large and imposing on the LA Auto Show’s press day stage, the Jeep Gladiator is classified as a midsize truck. As expected, it features rugged 4×4 capability, instantly recognizable Jeep styling and state-of-the-art technology. It will be available in these trim configurations: Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon.

Gladiator’s 4×4 capability is delivered through its Command-Trac and Rock-Trac 4×4 systems, third-generation Dana 44 axles, Tru-Lock electric front- and rear-axle lockers, Trac-Lock limited-slip differential, segment-exclusive electronic swaybar disconnect and 33-inch off-road tires.

Key specifications, according to the manufacturer, are Gladiator’s best-in-class towing and 4×4 payload, with up to 7,650 pounds of towing capacity and up to 1,600 pounds of payload capacity.

The traditional seven slots on the grill, as seen on the Wrangler, are classic Jeep. They have been widened for additional air intake to assist with the increased towing capacity. The top of the grill is slightly swept back to enhance aerodynamics.

Likewise, the round headlamps and square tail lamps are also classic Jeep. Gladiator Overland and Rubicon models offer available LED headlamps and fog lamps that project crisp, white light. The incorporated daytime running lights form a halo around the outside perimeter of the LED headlights. LED tail lamps are also available.

For off-road purists, the windshield conveniently folds down and the lightweight, high strength aluminum doors can be easily removed. A four-bolt design at the top of the windshield’s frame allows it to fold down quickly and easily. To maintain structural rigidity and to provide a place for the rearview mirror to be attached, a header bar connects the A-pillars and remains in place even when the windshield is folded down. A tool kit with the necessary Torx bits to remove the doors and lower the windshield is standard equipment.

There is nothing quite like the sense of freedom experienced while driving with the vehicle configured with even just the doors removed.

Other lightweight, high strength aluminum components that contribute to better fuel economy include the hood, hinges, fenders, windshield frame and tailgate.

The crew cab configuration features a durable five-foot steel bed with an available 115-volt power outlet and strong, integrated tie-downs, providing versatility for flexible cargo options. The damped, power locking tailgate can be stopped in three positions. Options include a spray-in bed liner, bed divider and tonneau cover. The full-size spare tire is located under the bed, behind the rear axle.

There are dozens of different door, top and windshield combinations. Options for the top include a black or body color, three-piece Freedom Top hardtop and a standard, zipperless Sunrider soft top. Quick-release latches enable fast removal and installation of the hardtop.

Two-piece, body-color fender flares with a black lower insert are standard on Overland and available on Rubicon models.

The flexible rear seat and rear storage are reconfigurable, with an available rear, under-seat storage bin.

The suspension has been tuned to optimize on-road handling and ride comfort without sacrificing off-road capability, payload or towing capability.

One of the two engine choices is a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 with Engine Stop-Start (ESS). Transmission choices with that engine are either an eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual.

Alternatively, the Gladiator can be equipped with a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 with ESS and an eight-speed automatic.

Interior choices are numerous, and provide a wide range of functionality and comfort. The advanced, fourth-generation, Uconnect infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the choice of 7.0- or 8.4-inch touchscreens with pinch-and-zoom capability. A removable Bluetooth wireless speaker is available.

There are more than 80 available advanced safety and security features, including adaptive cruise control with full stop, forward collision warning plus with automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitoring. The forward-facing off-road camera available on Rubicon allows obstructions on the trail to be easily seen.

The all-new Jeep Gladiator will be available in the second quarter of 2019.


Jan Wagner

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