As we were poised and ready to take in all the excitement when the Jeep Gladiator returned here at Landmark Dodge of Morrow in 2018, it was a memorable milestone for this brand and its ultra-active following. It boasted a very durable and capable design, still possessing Jeep’s legendary rugged character and off-road dominating chops. The very anticipated and boulder-conquering Gladiator was captured in spy shots over the past week by the Motor Biscuit auto writing team, without the typical camouflage that keeps many of the vitals a bit under wraps.
One of the first noticeable characteristics is the same seven-slot grill with a slightly more aggressive look, spotted with refreshed headlights and reworked bumpers. It looks as though the rear end could have new LED tail lights, a refreshed tailgate, and a new bumper. It looks like only one tow hook can be spotted instead of two, and the size of the bed is expected to remain the same. Held back a year due to manufacturing and other delays, the most exciting upgrade could include the addition of plug-in hybrid power in the form of the 4XE.
The 4XE begins its campsite-ready formula with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4 engine that’s paired with two electric motors and a 17-kWh battery pack to crank out 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. The EPA-estimated efficiency is 49 mpg, and the Earth-conscious all-electric range is 22 miles. The favorite of many Jeep fans that began their journey with analog compasses and power bars is the 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel engine, cranking out 240 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque.
It's guaranteed that your crew will love the 7,000-lb towing capacity when equipped with the gas engine, offering up a sense of accessible practicality with off-road chops along with the convenience of a truck bed. The Edmunds.com auto experts gave the Gladiator their very desirable “Good” rating for its nicely trimmed cabin, and easy-to-live with driving characteristics. They tested the model with a V6 engine and deemed it respectably capable while getting very easily up to highway speeds. The automatic transmission responds quickly, with smooth and prompt shifting while taking on all types of terrain.
So many loyal fans have been won over by Jeep for decades, as the lineup truly boasts the badge of honor when it comes to wilderness terrain. The Gladiator Rubicon has plenty of ground clearance and traction to see you through just about any form of obstacle, with a handling quality on the pavement still fantastic due to the same giant tires and solid front axle that render it such a champ on the trail. The classic Jeep upright driving position works well here, and the segment-leading backspace is quite advantageous over rival pickups in the same category.
We’d also have to recommend the standard rearview camera, which can be paired with a forward-facing unit ideal for the challenges of crawling off-road. If your Gladiator to-do list frequently involves towing a trailer, there are some very cool aftermarket tow mirrors available that are a huge help with the narrow body as a minor shortcoming. The presence of the hallowed manual transmission is enough to make some hardcore Jeep enthusiasts overcome with anticipation, as this is a feature many models have seen disappear into the sunset years ago.
Even the very base level trim comes with a dampened tailgate, push-button start, an 8-speaker audio system, 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, voice control capability, and the very useful trailer sway damping feature. Optional appearance packages that nicely spiced things up are the Willy Sport, the Sport S, the Willy, the Texas Trail, and the Altitude. The Overland trim offers beefed-up equipment in the form of 18-inch alloy wheels, power windows, rear privacy glass, A9 speaker Alpine audio system, an 8.4-inch touch screen, navigation system, rear USB ports, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.