by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
From automotive shows in Los Angeles, to Indianapolis, to Detroit—even Las Vegas and the Consumer Electronics Show—the Jeep Gladiator truck has made quite an impression wherever it has been shown off to the public.
Unfortunately, those looking to turn that interest into a purchase will have to wait a bit longer than originally anticipated.
That’s because Jeep Brand Director Scott Tallon recently told a Toledo, Ohio television station that the Gladiator, the brand’s first truck since 1992, will reach dealer showrooms in late June. Jeep had previously told dealers it could expect the Gladiator this April, but then hedged on that timeframe during the vehicle’s reveal back in late November—saying only that it would become available during 2019’s second quarter.
Tallon, attending this week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, said the company has been very pleased with consumer response so far, and is looking forward to the vehicle reaching its buying public.
"The early indication in demand is exceptionally strong,” Tallon said. “It's exceeded our expectations. So overwhelmingly positive and so we're just excited now to focus on getting it to market, which we'll do here in the second quarter of this year."
While those eagerly anticipating the truck can currently accessorize it through the brand’s website, there is still neither official pricing, nor a date when dealers can begin placing customer orders. In contrast, Jeep released its pricing for the 2018 JL Wrangler in mid-December 2017, approximately two months before they began appearing in dealer showrooms. If the company follows the Wrangler model, that would mean an April availability on pricing. However, many around the industry believe Jeep will not wait that long and should have it available as early as February.
Now, even though the truck is many months away from arrival, one rumor proving popular is that Jeep will offer a high speed, high-performance Gladiator version dubbed ‘Hercules’. It is also a rumor that has caught the attention of Fiat Chrysler’s Head of Jeep Tim Kuniskis during this week’s NAIAS.
"Hercules? Wow. That's getting a lot of traction," he said during an interview with Motor Authority. "I think the pictures are cool—I don't know who made them—but they look interesting."
Kuniskis didn’t say if this rumor was true, but did add it probably came about because of the Gladiator’s brand-first, high speed off-road calibration. This feature will allow drivers to keep the front sway bar connected, while unlocking the front differential and electronically locking the rear—meaning the Gladiator will maintain excellent traction at high speed over both dirt and sand.
So a special edition vehicle, like Hercules, would most likely need have to include a higher end engine—think 6.2L Hellcat—tossing out more horsepower and torque to justify what would surely be a top-end price. And yet Kuniskis said their surveys indicate most Jeep owners in the market for something like this are really just looking for a torque (and not horsepower) boost. Gladiator already has one of those arriving in 2020; a factory-produced diesel engine that will provide that extensive torque.
"We've got our diesel coming with 442 pound-feet, with a warranty, from the factory,” he said. “The torque that they're looking for, we're to able deliver to them with a diesel, (so) I don't know where the Hercules thing comes from."
Whether or not a “Hercules’ edition ever makes it to market may remain a mystery for awhile, but one thing is clear. Jeep is really planning on a long stay in the truck end of the automotive pool.
"I think we’re just scratching the surface on where (Gladiator) can go,” Kuniskis said. “There’s nothing else like it. It has massive potential.”