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2020 Jeep Gladiator: 5 Things We Learned on Our First Drive

2020 Jeep Gladiator

We can finally tell you about what it’s like to drive the new 2020 Jeep Gladiator! It’s been long enough, hasn’t it? The Gladiator made its debut in November 2018 at the Los Angeles Auto Show, but it’s taken until now for us to actually get behind the wheel and see how it performs.

Folks, it’s pretty impressive.

Related: 2020 Jeep Gladiator First Drive: Yes, Maximus, We Are Entertained

Here are five things we learned about the Gladiator in our time behind the wheel:

1. It Has Impressive Ride Quality

Cars.com reviewer Aaron Bragman came away from his driving time thoroughly impressed with the Gladiator’s ride.

“This is the best-riding Wrangler-derived vehicle ever made,” Bragman declared. “No Wrangler rides this smoothly, with this level of bump-absorbing skill. Rough pavement, no problem. Rocky field, won’t be bothered. Smooth interstates, feels like a Lexus. The long wheelbase and the heavier-duty suspension smooth out just about everything without the bouncy feel that plagues the Ford Ranger FX4 or Chevrolet Colorado Z71.”

2. It’s Off-Road Prowess Is as Expected

… Which is to say, there’s almost nothing the Gladiator can’t handle. Bragman drove the Gladiator over all sorts of terrain, including stuff “you would have extreme difficulty even walking over.” The Gladiator took it all in stride despite its additional length — when compared to a Wrangler — and even had a feature the Wrangler doesn’t have: Off-Road Mode Plus. It can adjust throttle and stability control settings intelligently based on the current four-wheel-drive setting.

3. It’s Not Quick

One of the most significant issues Bragman ran into with the Gladiator was in trying to do anything, well, quickly. Of course, if you’re buying a Gladiator hoping for a sports car, you’re not going to get what you want. But even in terms of acceleration, the Gladiator is bested by the other new mid-size truck on the block, the 2019 Ranger. Bragman has praise for the standard six-speed manual transmission but recommends opting for the eight-speed automatic and saving yourself a lot of effort.

4. It Can Tow

2020 Jeep Gladiator

The Sport S model, when properly equipped, has the Gladiator’s highest maximum tow rating at 7,650 pounds. Towing a 24-foot, 6,000-pound Airstream trailer proved to Bragman that the Gladiator certainly is capable of towing, but he found a few issues there, too. The Gladiator did not have a Tow/Haul mode with the automatic transmission to make it easier on the powertrain.

“The 3.6-liter V-6 also has to work harder than I’ve ever heard one work,” according to Bragman, “routinely holding lower gears and revving into the 4,000-6,000 rpm range and keeping it there on long uphill stretches.”

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5. It’s Gonna Be Pricey

We still don’t know the prices for optional features on the Gladiator yet, but the starting prices are $35,040 for a Sport model; $38,420 for a Sport S; $41,890 for an Overland; and $45,040 for a Rubicon. And all of those prices “include a whopping $1,495 destination fee. Why Jeep requires $500 more to ship a Gladiator from Toledo than Mercedes-Benz asks to ship a G-Wagen from Austria, we cannot fathom.” (We can’t figure it out either, Aaron.) Those prices represent a $2,000 increase over a corresponding four-door Wrangler and, if option prices are similar to its Wrangler sibling, a loaded Gladiator Rubicon could top out at more than $60,000.

For more of Bragman’s thoughts about driving the Gladiator, check out his full First Drive at PickupTrucks.com

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

 
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