February 21st, 2023 by

With the Gladiator, Jeep delivered on the demands of Wrangler owners who wanted the fun and freedom of owning an off-road SUV with a pickup-truck bed attached to its hind quarters. The Gladiator, like the Wrangler that it’s based on, has a removable top and doors but comes with 1000 pounds of added max towing capacity. Like its Wrangler sibling, its handling-and-ride behavior makes it better suited for trail use versus conventional mid-size pickups such as the Honda Ridgeline and Chevrolet Colorado. You pay for that with less refined manners on paved roads. Every Gladiator has a four-door cab, a 5.0-foot bed, and a capable four-wheel-drive system. Gladiators are available with a six-speed manual transmission and an optional turbodiesel powertrain that greatly improves fuel economy. All come standard with trail-conquering capability.

What’s New for 2023?

Jeep doesn’t shake up the Gladiator Rx much for 2023, but it has added a limited-edition Freedom package, available on Sport S trims for an additional $3295. The Freedom package brings a military-themed exterior to honor US servicemen and women; it hunks up the trucks with a special steel front bumper and rock sliders. A Capability package is available for the High Altitude trim that includes a winch-capable steel front bumper, steel rock sliders, and a front off-road camera. Mid-tier Willys models receive more standard features for 2023, such as keyless entry and remote start. The delicious-looking maroon Snazzberry paint is replaced by a fluorescent High Velocity yellow.

We think the Sport S is the perfect canvas to create our ideal Gladiator. We’d choose the all-terrain tires and anti-spin rear differential for improved traction when the blacktop ends, and we’d add the side steps to make getting in out and easier. We’d also select the three-piece hard top for its ability to quickly open the roof. Inside, we’d spec the headliner for better noise and temperature insulation and upgrade to the larger 8.4-inch touchscreen, because it adds navigation and is more sophisticated than the standard 5.0-inch unit. Our other preferred options include the Cargo Management pack (400-watt power inverter, an under-seat storage bin, and a bed-mounted 115-volt outlet) and the auxiliary switches and upgraded charging system for any lightbars or accessories that we’ll surely add for maximum Jeepness.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Gladiator is powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque routed through a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional eight-speed automatic. We tested an Overland model with the automatic, which needed 7.2 seconds to scoot to 60 mph. In other words, it’s slightly slower than most competitors. We’ve also driven a Gladiator with the diesel 3.0-liter V-6, which develops 260 ponies and a mighty 442 pound-feet of twist. Compared with the regular Wrangler, the Gladiator has an extra 19.4 inches between the front and rear wheels. Jeep says this helps improve the pickup’s ride and handling. Now that we’ve driven several examples, we can confirm that it drives much like the Wrangler. On paved roads, the truck’s steering lacks precision and the ride can be busy on uneven surfaces. Still, these characteristics are part of the formula that makes the Gladiator both a legitimate pickup truck and a trail-ready tool. Enthusiasts care more about the truck’s available off-road equipment, which includes everything from copious skid plates to rock-crawling axle ratios to the ability to ford up to 30 inches of water. Generous ground clearance and approach/departure angles further help the Gladiator conquer parts unknown.

Source: https://www.caranddriver.com/jeep/gladiator

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