by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
It rolled out of the depths during a Los Angeles Auto Show press conference event late last year, creeping from the darkness and onto a wide stage lit by flashing lights and back dropped by blaring music. Introducing itself to an enthusiastic crowd that had been waiting nearly three decades.
The newest Jeep truck. A Gladiator. Something that looked like a fusion of last year’s redesigned JL Wrangler and, perhaps, an older midsize Dakota pickup bed. Except it wasn’t. This was an all-new engineering marvel that carried with it the best of Wrangler with the tow capacity and available cargo space of a truck. All one frame. Like nothing else in its category.
But one thing stood out though as the Gladiator took its place on stage on a warm, sun-splashed southern California Wednesday morning. It had four doors. Nothing two door around. In fact, according to its lead designer, nothing two door planned, either.
The automaker Monday announced it has developed a two-door version of the Gladiator, and will begin offering the vehicle next spring.
“I think you’ve seen that the excitement for the Gladiator is really unlike anything else we’ve ever built,” said one executive in a company statement. “As you know, we originally did not have plans for a two-door version. In fact, we were leery about bringing the Gladiator to market with anything less than four doors based off our research. But the vocal demand for a two-door was tremendous, and so we met with the designers and decided to go ahead.”
”I think they were as excited as we were to start working on this.”
While the company did not say whether this new two-door truck would also carry the Gladiator name, it did indicate the vehicle will be offered in the same three trim levels: Sport, Overland and Rubicon.
It is also expected to have many of the same features as Gladiator, such as solid axles, removable top, cargo bed rails, dampened tailgate and tonneau cover. However, no other details regarding bed size, engine type, or tow capacity were released. Jeep's Gladiator, on the other hand, will enter the market with the company's signature 3.6L Pentastar engine, along with a best in class 7,650-lb tow capacity and 1,600-lb payload.
”The Jeep Gladiator is something unlike anything else in its class, from front to back,” said another executive. “We have high expectations for this vehicle and, because of that, we felt we could not ignore those whose interest lay in a two-door model. We want to include those enthusiasts just like we do those who love the two-door Wrangler.”
The company said in a statement that it plans to shut down its Toledo (OH) South Assembly complex for three weeks later this fall, in order to retrofit one of its lines for two-door production. This would not affect either four-door Gladiator or JL Wrangler inventory, as additional production capacity will be added later this summer to compensate, the company said in a statement.
The automaker is currently preparing to open order banks in April for the highly anticipated Gladiator, and expects the vehicle on dealership lots by June. Gladiator pricing was just released pricing over the weekend for its latest truck, which will come in at $33,545 for a Sport, $36,745 for Sport S, $40,395 for Overland and $43,545 for Rubicon.
No pricing information was released for the two-door.
The Jeep Comanche was the brand's last two-door truck model, and was made from 1986-92 before being phased out for the Dakota.
However, don’t expect to see a production two-door Gladiator any time soon. After all, it is April Fools Day. Sorry, but just about everything you read above was made up. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made it pretty clear during last year’s Gladiator media release that it was not planning on building a production two-door Jeep truck.
If you are definitely interested in one though, then we can only paraphrase the words of Jeep Head of Design Mark Allen.
"We do make a two door Gladiator. Two doors on each side."