We’ve finally gotten behind the wheel of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, and as much as we loved its brand-upholding off-road capability and vintage styling, it’s the reasonable price structure that has us most excited for the pickup.
Starting at $33,545 (presumably before a $1,495 destination charge), the base Gladiator Sport slots in at a bit more than the base Toyota Tacoma SR Double Cab 4×4 ($32,195), but it undercuts the less off-road–friendly Honda Ridgeline Sport AWD ($35,290). The Chevrolet Colorado WT asks $31,700 in its four-wheel-drive, crew cab configuration, while the the Ford Ranger XL SuperCrew 4×4 is a bit cheaper still ($30,680). The bargain-basement Nissan Frontier Crew Cab S 4×4 is the only body-on-frame midsize 4×4 crew cab to slot in under $30,000.
So admittedly, the Gladiator is the second-most expensive vehicle in its competitive set. However, moving into a higher-spec Jeep truck isn’t as financially daunting as we were expecting.
The mid-spec Gladiator Sport S will ask for $36,745 for the pleasure of ownership, bringing power windows and door locks, silver-painted wheels, and a few other conveniences along with it. The luxurious Gladiator Overland—which will add larger wheels, tinted windows, heated mirrors, side steps, dual-zone automatic climate controls, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and a wider variety of optional extras—demands $40,395.
At the top of the Gladiator range is the Rubicon, which starts at $43,545 and includes a long list of axle, transfer case, and body modifications to help it perform significantly better than its still-capable siblings when the going gets rough. Among those changes include a lower gear ratio for the transfer case’s low range (4.0:1 compared to 2.72:1), standard locking front and rear differentials, a disconnecting sway bar up front, and off-road–tuned Fox monotube shocks. The Rubi also gets an added 1.1 inches of ground clearance, improving approach, departure, and breakover angles along the way.
While nearly $44,000 is still a lot of coin for a midsize truck, the Rubicon is arguably more capable than the similarly priced Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, the only die-hard off-roaders in the midsize class. And the Rubicon is the only pickup to offer four-wheel drive and a manual transmission in all of its grades—a mixed blessing that makes our enthusiast hearts very happy but requires those who want an automatic to pony up a bit more dough. Something that should pique everyone’s interest is that the Gladiator, regardless of trim level, is the only open-air pickup on the U.S. market, with a removable top and doors and a folding windshield.
Also announced were the Gladiator’s EPA-rated fuel economy numbers, and the news is good-not-great on that front. Currently, the truck is only available with a 3.6L Pentastar V-6, which achieves 17 city/22 highway/19 combined mpg with the eight-speed automatic gearbox or 16 city/23 highway/19 combined with the standard six-speed manual. Those numbers are right in line with the automatic-only Chevrolet Colorado, which achieves 17/24/19 in EPA testing, but they’re down on the 2.3L turbocharged I-4 found in the Ranger (20/24/22 mpg).
With segment-competitive towing, payload, off-road capability, and pricing, plus all that baked-in Wrangler personality, we think many midsize pickup buyers are going to have a hard time driving past the Jeep dealer without stopping to check out the Gladiator.