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5 things you need to know about the 2020 Jeep Gladiator

The Jeep Gladiator won’t get to Australia until 2020 but the thing is so much more than just a Jeep Wrangler with a tray. Here are the 5 things you need to know about it.

While there have been after-market ute conversions of the Wrangler, the Jeep Gladiator is the first factory-built Jeep ute in around 25 years. And it’s so much more than just a Wrangler with a ute tray. It’ll arrive here in 2020 despite going on-sale in the US this month and so it’s likely Australian buyers will see both petrol and diesel engines offered although Jeep isn’t saying anything until closer to the local launch.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

There’s already a lot of hype surrounding this vehicle but, as always, it pays to slow down a bit and look at some numbers. With claims of the Gladiator offering segment-best towing, well, we don’t agree. Not if the raw numbers Jeep has handed out are anything to go by. It’ll be good but not great. But in other areas like the tray and how it’s been engineered it’ll be a better load carrier (if not with the same outright capacity) as some rivals.

Will it be the most capable off-road ute in the segment? More than likely. Read on.

Number One: Looks Matter

Starting with the front of the Gladiator it would be easy to point and say, that’s just the front from a Wrangler. And it kind of is. I mean, the Wrangler’s seven-slot grille was the starting point, but because Jeep reckons Gladiator buyers will want to tow they widened the slot gaps for improved airflow into the engine when towing.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

The other thing that instantly stands the two apart is the length of the Gladiator and its tray. It measures 5539mm long while the Wrangler is 4700mm long. And the length of the tray measures 1531mm long which is shorter than a Ranger’s tray at 1549mm but overall, the Gladiator is a longer vehicle than the Ranger which is 5426mm long. The wheelbase on the Gladiator is much longer than the Ranger, measuring 3487mm compared with 3220mm, and much of that extra room has gone into the backseat, according to Jeep.

Ground clearance is something else the Gladiator has on its side. According to Jeep, ground clearance runs from 253mm to 283mm on the Gladiator Rubicon. And, unlike most other ute makers that fluff ground clearance claims, Jeep is usually accurate.

Number Two: Let’s look at the tray

The Gladiator only gets the one tray type and only in one length. As mentioned it measures 1531mm long and 2067mm when the tailgate is opened. The loading height is 885mm with the tailgate down and the width of the opening is 1270mm. There’s 1137mm between the wheel arches. For reference, a Ford Ranger’s tray is bigger.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

But the Gladiator’s tray has some clever touches that clearly show how Jeep thinks this thing will be used and who will be buying it. Those who tow and tradies. For instance, the tailgate has been designed so that it can be partially opened and locked in three different positions, with the width of the tray intended to be able to hold not pallets (although it will) as many other ute makers describe the tray on their utes but in the ability to stack sheets of plywood on the wheel arches and within the tray.

There’s an assister spring on the tailgate to make it easy to open and close the tailgate with just one hand. And the spare wheel is mounted under the tray.

But where the Gladiator shows off its engineering for load carrying is that fact the tray is intended to get closer to 50:50 forwards and rear of the rear axle for optimum load balancing. Too many utes, like the Triton for instance have the majority of their tray hanging out beyond the rear axle.

Number Three: How much can it tow?

Depending on the variant, the Gladiator, based on US specs is rated to tow between 1800kg and 3469kg if you run a direct conversion from pounds to kilograms and that’s hardly segment-best towing. In determining the GCM, Jeep allows for a driver weighing 150 pounds or 68kg which is added to the kerb weight of the vehicle and the maximum trailer it can tow. So, the GCM for the Gladiator, depending on the variant, ranges from 4127kg through to 5800kg.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

Let’s take a closer look at the Gladiator Rubicon with a 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine and an eight-speed automatic. This has a kerb weight of 2300kg and can tow a maximum braked trailer weighing 3175kg (on the direct conversion) and a GCM which is the heaviest the combination can weigh, including the 68kg for the driver, of 5647kg. There’s no mention of a towball download weight which is generally, but not always, calculated in Australia as 10% of the maximum braked trailer weight.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

Independently of when you’re towing Jeep calculates a payload of 725kg. However, when you’re towing the maximum braked capacity of 3175kg then there’s just 172kg of payload left and that’s before you take into account extra passengers, towball download, and so on. How different these numbers will be when the Gladiator arrives Down Under we’ll have to wait and see and as I get more information I’ll update this piece.

At the time of launch, the Gladiator will only run a 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine with a turbo-diesel arriving in 2020.

Number Four: Can it still off-road?

Let’s look at the numbers for the Rubicon because it’s the hero car everyone wants to know about. So, Jeep claims it offers up to 283mm of ground clearance and with past Jeep’s we’ve checked they all seem to be measuring ground clearance in the conventional way; from the ground to the lowest part of the vehicle (usually the diff pumpkin).

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

It comes standard on 33-inch tyres (but it’s capable of taking 35-inch tyres). Approach angles of 43.4-degrees, rampover of 20.3-degrees and departure angles of 26-degrees. All sounding very good and the approach and ground clearance figures are much better than just about any other stock ute on-sale in Australia. Water fording is a claimed 762mm.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

We’ll stick with the Rubicon. It features a Rock-Trac 4×4 system with third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a “4LO” ratio of 4:1. A 4.10 front and rear axle ratio is standard as are Tru-Lok locking differentials. With the standard six-speed manual transmission, Gladiator Rubicon has an impressive crawl ratio of 84.2:1, and 77.2:1 on Rubicon models equipped with the optional eight-speed automatic.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

Number 5: What’s it like on the inside?

The interior follows in the same vein as the Wrangler with its heritage-inspired design. Everything inside is designed to be weather proof and you can choose from either cloth or leather seats, the front seats and steering wheel can be heated too.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

The back seats offer more rear seat legroom than the Wrangler thanks to the longer wheelbase but you still have to access them through the same size doors and openings as the Wrangler. This means, access is a bit pinched but there’s plenty of room once in the back. The back seats can be flipped up out of the way for through loading or to access storage bins which can be locked using the same key as the centre console storage; they can also be divided into compartments.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

Depending on the variant there’s either a 7.0-inch or 8.4-inch infotainment system running Jeep’s Uconnect system which offers Apple and Android connectivity. The Rubicon variant has a forward-facing camera which can be accessed via the Off-road Pages menu item.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

Question: Are you looking forward to the arrival of the Jeep Gladiator?

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober