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2020 Jeep Gladiator: When You Want a Truck Without Doors

The last time Jeep buyers could opt for a pickup truck, the smallish Comanche at the time, the average cost of a new vehicle was $16,950 and Bill Clinton hadn’t yet been elected president. But now, buyers have the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, an all-new mid-size truck revealed at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show with strong family design cues taken from its sibling, the four-door Jeep Wrangler SUV.

Related: More 2018 L.A. Auto Show Coverage

img 440004669 1543436185355 jpg 2020 Jeep Gladiator | Cars.com photo by Mark Williams

The Gladiator’s front two-thirds could easily be mistaken as a twin of the four-door Wrangler, but with 20 extra inches of wheelbase comes a moderately sized bed box that gives the Gladiator its unique look and extra function. Bumpers, headlights, hood, front fenders and even the cabin itself will be very familiar to even the casual Jeep fan — and from our point of view, that’s a good thing. This new entry is instantly recognizable, yet quite different from its more aerodynamic and swoopy competitors.

img1918301894 1543436186391 jpg 2020 Jeep Gladiator | Cars.com photo by Mark Williams

Inside, it takes a discerning eye to detect any structural and design differences from the Wrangler. In fact, the pickup also requires you to make a good leg lift into the front seating position, which is thoroughly upright (again, very Wrangler-like). As you might expect, visibility from the driver’s seat is exceptional, with large front and side windows; however, taller buyers may have to be careful depending on what roof configuration they choose because speaker supports and roll-bar intrusion could be a factor. As for interior controls, the four-wheel-drive lever, radio, navigation screen, air-conditioning knobs and transmission shifter are all identical to the SUV, meaning all the important stuff is laid out where each feature falls easily to the driver’s right hand.

Related: 2020 Jeep Gladiator: More Than a Wrangler Pickup

Of the four trims (Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon), by far the vehicle with the most impressive stance and appearance is the Gladiator Rubicon that offers larger tires, better gearing and its famous namesake (complete with hood decals) that will resonate with anyone who might ever want to venture onto a 4×4 trail. The class-exclusive convertible top option is both sturdy and easy to pop open and close, with several side and rear pieces for a more insulated (and quieter) passenger experience. Of course, the three-piece sectional Freedom Top is available here, as well.

img1637204674 1543436185022 jpg 2020 Jeep Gladiator | Cars.com photo by Mark Williams

Offering these traditional “Jeep” features will go a long way separating this new pickup from the competition. Nobody in the segment has removable doors and a drop-down windshield, and Jeep engineers have also done their competitive research and included clever rear-seat storage, flexible seatback functionality and a few bed accessories that will allow for more customer personalization, such as bed racks, extra storage and multiple tie-downs.

Although the new Gladiator will certainly be a great choice for the Jeep faithful, the brand might have trouble matching up for buyers looking for more traditional pickup traits like towing and hauling. Jeep is touting maximum towing of up to 7,650 pounds and 1,600 pounds of maximum payload, but some truck buyers might be skeptical here; of course, that might be the easiest thing for Jeep to take care of with a stronger trailering/payload option package down the road.

Our final big question will be about pricing and whether Jeep can keep all these features and trims at a reasonable price, especially on the Rubicon. On paper, a loaded Gladiator Rubicon looks like a $50,000 mid-size pickup — and in that arena, if that’s how it works out, Jeep will be in a class of one.

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.

Photo of Mark Williams
Former PickupTrucks.com Editor Mark Williams lives in Southern California with his wife and enjoys camping, hiking, skiing, big trucks and towing, and backcountry 4x4 driving. Email Mark Williams

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