So here it is - Jeep's first truck in over 26 years:
The 2020 Jeep JT Gladiator is actually happening. While many doubted Fiat Chrysler's resolve to bring a new Jeep truck to the market, everyone in the Jeep department was actually taking enthusiast feedback to heart in order to create a vehicle that is - at once - dynamic and innovative, while also living up to the legendary Jeep name. Originally, FCA was planning on a summer 2018 roll out for the truck which would have put the vehicle in dealerships about a year after the planned launch of the new Jeep Wrangler JL. But when that new Wrangler encountered delays, so did the release schedule for the JT. Currently, FCA expects production to begin early in 2019, with an anticipated dealership rollout during the year's second quarter.
As far as the vehicle itself, Jeep executives said they pondered all kinds of name ideas including Scrambler and Comanche, before settling on the powerful-sounding Gladiator. Something they believed best represented what they wanted the truck to be when it reached the market. It will exclusively have four-doors as Jeep said it examined mountains of data suggesting that size provides the best selling result. It is also midsize, possessing a five-foot steel bed including cargo restraints, bed lighting, available power outlet and tonneau cover. This bed size makes it perfect for those hauling canoes, kayaks, mountain bikes or other fun accessories like tents or overlanding equipment. The tailgate is also dampened so it it easier to open, and contains cleats which allows the tailgate to remain open in several different positions.
From the headlights to the crew cab's rear, the Gladiator is nearly identical to the JL Wrangler with a few exceptions. Sure it will have the same iconic Jeep keystone seven-slot grille, round headlights, fender flares and raked windshield, but because of cooling issues when towing, the Gladiator's grille openings are slightly larger and the front of the hood a bit more swept back for aerodynamics. Plus, the rear seats can fold down to expose lockable behind seat storage compartments, as well as an optional removable Bluetooth speaker. Also new is an available under seat storage compartment to help secure your needed cargo items. Meanwhile, the Gladiator's windshield will fold down just as easy as the new JL Wrangler's version, while its doors, hard roof panels, rear panel or available Sunrider soft roof, are all removable. This gives the Gladiator a class-exclusive overall open air cabin.
Where this truck will really shine is in the towing and hauling department, as Gladiator is rated at up to 7,650 pounds of towing capacity and 1,600 pounds of payload. These are segment-leading numbers for Jeep and are achieved somewhat by the vehicle's new frame that has been stretched 31 inches, as well as its 19.4-inch extra wheelbase over Wrangler. For those looking to take this vehicle off-road for trail riding or overlanding, Jeep says the truck has an approach angle of 43.6 degrees, breakover angle of 20.3 degrees, departure angle of 26 degrees and 11.1 inches of ground clearance.
Rest assured, despite other trucks in the class having independent front suspensions, the Gladiator utilizes the same ladder-on-frame, solid axle design that Jeep has always employed in nearly all of its vehicles. Also underneath is heavy-duty Dana 44 axles specifically designed for the truck, as well as the vehicle's spare. And should you plan on upgrading, there is still room to bump up to a 35" tire before having to find another spot. Under the hood will be FCA's tried-and-true Pentastar 3.6L engine which pushes out 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft of torque. Then, sometime in 2020, Jeep will release its 3.0L EcoDiesel engine as an option that drops horsepower somewhat to 260, but majorly bumps torque to an earth-chewing 442 lb.-ft. Both engines will have electronic start/stop, but the diesel will only be available with Jeep's eight-speed automatic. The Pentastar will have both automatic and six-speed manual availability.
No pricing numbers have been released for any trim levels, nor have any fuel economy ratings.
At first glance, the new Jeep Gladiator JT appears to look just like you'd think - a Wrangler front with a truck bed attached. However, Jeep designers didn't just drop a JL Wrangler on to a truck bed. No, they engineered a whole new chassis for the vehicle. Up front, it does hit all the Wrangler notes with the signature grille, bumper, hood, flares and raked windshield frame. One change is slightly wider grille slot openings which, according to Jeep, was done to help with cooling issues during towing. As far as cab design, the Gladiator will only ever be a four-door crew cab as Jeep believes this the most 'in demand' type of cab. It also will have a five-foot steel bed with dampened tailgate. This tailgate also comes with cleat attachments so you can open it to several different positions. The bed contains an available Trail Rail cargo management system and also has below rail lighting and available power outlet. An optional tonneau cover will help hide cargo and make the bed more secure. Furthermore, the spare tire moves underneath the truck instead of that traditional Wrangler tailgate spot.
The Jeep Gladiator will again use Dana axles underneath the vehicle and will be entirely four-wheel drive throughout the series. And these aren't just any old Dana axles. No, Jeep had Dana construct an all new version of its 44 series specifically for the truck. This axle is more robust, thicker and designed to withstand all the stress of towing and carrying heavy payloads. These axles will support both 3.76 and 4.11 gear ratios at launch, but no doubt aftermarket manufacturers will have other ratios ready to go when the truck hits dealerships.
Just like the JL Wrangler, the new Jeep truck will launch with FCA's tried-and-tested 3.6L Pentastar engine. This powerplant has been around since 2012, and did receive an update to Electronic Start/Stop tech in 2018, leading up to the JL Wrangler launch. It pumps out 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque while also boosting fuel economy over past editions - in part because of that move to ESS. Besides the Pentastar, Jeep did announce it will release its 3.0L Eco-Diesel for the truck as well, but not until 2020. This is the engine currently available in the Grand Cherokee and Dodge Ram 1500, and would certainly be a high-demand powerplant once released. The diesel's higher torque and better fuel economy could satisfy both the avid off road user and daily driver crowds. In fact, FCA boasts the diesel offers 442 lb-ft of torque, while supplying 260 horsepower, which definitely will be a plus for those planning on testing out the vehicle's 7600 pound tow capacity. The Pentastar engine will mate with both manual and automatic transmissions, but the diesel will only arrive with an automatic transmission.
The Jeep Gladiator JT truck will arrive with a six-speed manual transmission, just like the JL, and will have an available eight-speed automatic. Like we said earlier, both transmissions are tuned for the 3.6L Pentastar engine, but the automatic is set up to provide a bit better fuel economy thanks to improved shift points, while the manual offers easier and shorter throws to make shifting that much smoother. That automatic will also make its way into the 3.0L Eco-Diesel when that edition is released in 2020
One of the biggest selling points for the Jeep Gladiator is that it is not just a truck, but it is a Jeep truck. And that means the cab area can be opened up just like the Wrangler. For those choosing a hard roof, there are three removable Freedom panels that can be taken off when the weather agrees. Latches hold those panels in place, so it is simply a matter of unlatch and remove when you want an open cabin. Those who want the soft roof can either entirely remove the top for a full open cabin, or employ the Sunrider option and pull it back thanks to hardware that includes gas-charged struts. Up front, the soft roof attaches the same way as the current JL Wrangler.
Much of the Jeep Gladiator's interior is heavily borrowed from the new edition Wrangler. Things like push button start, integrated windshield grab handles, digital driver instrument cluster, new steering wheel, smaller climate controls and a refined, clean dash design. The vehicle will also utilize FCA's fourth generation Uconnect Infotainment system as well, which offers the traditional fare of options like radio, phone, navigation and climate control. All are touch screen and are interactive with either Apply Car Play or Android Auto. Additionally, the Gladiator's rear seats can fold down to reveal rear lockable storage units and an available removable Bluetooth speaker. The rear seats will even have a removable under seat storage box for extra storage space.
The 2020 Jeep Gladiator will come in several different color options: Gobi (tan), Granite Crystal, Hydro Blue, Firecracker Red, Billet Silver, Black, Gator (green), Punk'n Metallic, Sting Gray and Bright White. While Jeep also likes to add additional color options later on in a vehicle's model year, they haven't said yet if the Gladiator will have additional color choices as the model year proceeds.