by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Jeep Gladiator truck may just be about a year old, but the youngster is already bringing home some impressive award hardware to put on the shelf at the automakers’ Auburn Hills, Michigan headquarters.
The Gladiator Monday was awarded as 2020 North American Truck of the Year by a panel of automotive journalists during a news conference in Detroit. Gladiator beat out Ford’s Ranger and Ram for the prize, which also marked FCA's first-ever back-to-back titles in the award’s 26-year history—following a Ram 1500 win last year.
“The Jeep Gladiator is not only the world’s most capable midsize pickup, it's now the North American Truck of the Year as well,” said Jim Morrison, FCA’s North American Head of Jeep, in a company statement. “This honor is a testament to our customers who demand the very best and the Gladiator delivers with all of the 4x4 capability and versatility expected of a Jeep vehicle.”
A group of 50 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada evaluated all finalists based on segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar. The process, which started in June 2019 by determining a list of eligible vehicles, included three rounds of voting.
In order to be eligible for truck of the year consideration, a vehicle has to be either new or substantially changed from a previous model, and it needs to be on sale by the end of the year. It also has to be a volume seller, which helps rule out many smaller niche products like exotic brands. This year, there were five trucks which met eligibility terms.
The 2020 truck of the year award is the first time a Jeep has taken the title since Grand Cherokee in 1999.
“This is really a great time for Jeep to win North American Truck of the Year,” said Christian Meunier, FCA’s global president of Jeep. “It was us being true to our brand and listening to our customers.”
“This Jeep does everything” Meunier said. “It’s truly the best of both worlds: a true SUV and a true truck.”
Gladiator, Jeep’s first production truck since exiting the market in 1992, was introduced during the Los Angeles Auto Show back in November 2018, and reached dealerships in May. Overall, FCA sold just a tick over 40k Gladiators in 2019.
The North American Car and Truck awards ceremony is normally held in tandem with the Detroit International Auto Show, but that show was moved June this year in hopes warmer weather will improve attendance.
Chevy's eighth-generation Corvette won 2020's Car of the Year, while Kia's Telluride took home top Utility Vehicle of the Year.