From its introduction at the , we know there is a plenty to love about the newest mid-size pickup truck player from Jeep: the . There's no other brand in the class — maybe the auto industry — with the kind of customer loyalty and instant name recognition that Jeep enjoys, and we're well aware that the automaker could have really screwed up this pickup during the development process.
Clearly Jeep did many things right with the 2020 Gladiator that's based on the popular Jeep Wrangler SUV four-door: leaving the removable doors and drop windshield, including a new convertible option, making a manual transmission available, eventually offering a diesel and making the Rubicon trim the Gladiator's flagship model. But this pickup isn't perfect, not if Jeep wants the Gladiator to be a real pickup truck competitor. It's already longer than the sales-leading Toyota Tacoma crew-cab long bed, and the Tacoma has a wheelbase that's 3 inches longer and a bed that's 18 inches longer.
Here are our other quick quibbles with the new Jeep:
1. No Trailer Brake Controller
We understand that most owners in this class will not tow; that's not how mid-size pickup owners typically use their truck. But given the number of Wranglers we see towed behind Ford, Chevrolet and Ram pickups, it seems like the automaker would want to offer an integrated feature trailer brake controller so that existing Jeep fans who purchase both vehicles can tow the Wrangler behind the Gladiator. Seems like a missed opportunity for now but we're guessing Mopar parts will pick up the slack.
2. Five-Lug Axles
There's plenty to like about Jeep's decision to include the Wrangler's heavier-duty Dana 44 axles on the basic Gladiators and include stronger Dana 44s on the Rubicon, but we it looks weird to us. Five lugs on the axles doesn't necessarily communicate extra strength, and it's something none of the competitors in the mid-size class have (they all show six). We know this is mostly about the towing and gross vehicle weight ratings, but if Jeep ever plans to offer an upgraded towing package, engineers might want to address this.
3. No Extended Cab
Until the Jeep Gladiator, the Honda Ridgeline was the only mid-size player lacking a smaller four-door. Yes, crew-cab models are the big sellers in the class, but offering a simple extended-cab model — or even a regular cab — would give Jeep bragging rights about offering a longer bed (keep the single wheelbase option) for those who might want to use their bed for more than carrying luggage to the airport.
4. No Bed Creativity
We're disappointed that the company that gave the world the RamBox didn't provide a special feature or two integrated into the Gladiator's bed or hiding underneath. We've seen our share of air compressors, hidden storage bins, extra fuel tanks, and even outlets for 12-volt tools and kitchen appliances (ever had a blender on the trail or worksite?). A basic bed in a not-so-basic pickup doesn't make much sense. How about a JeepBox?
5. No Work Truck Option
This overlaps a bit with complaint Nos. 3 and No. 4: Offering a work truck trim seems like low-hanging fruit for Jeep. A work truck trim would benefit those who have remote mail routes or navigate backcountry dirt roads. It would be a great way to offer something less expensive with a longer bed and possibly some unique tool storage packages. How about a special-edition pit crew chase vehicle? At least offer something in commercial white.
Cars.com by Mark Williams; manufacturer images