Jeep Fight: What Sets the Gladiator and Wrangler Apart?


Jeep's  pickup made its official debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show — following  and tons of  — and, yes, it looks like a four-door Wrangler with a pickup bed. (That's not a complaint.) So how different are the two vehicles?

Related: More 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show Coverage

We'll leave the two-door Wrangler out of these comparisons for now, since there isn't a comparable two-door or regular-cab Gladiator at this time.

Basic Measurements

To add the pickup bed, Jeep added almost 20 inches to the four-door Wrangler's wheelbase — the Gladiator's wheelbase measures at 137.3 inches, while a four-door Wrangler's is 118.4. That pushes overall length for the Gladiator out to 218 inches, almost 30 inches more than the four-door Wrangler's 188.4. Width is identical, making it harder to know which one is about to hit you head on: Both are 73.8 inches across regardless of trim.

The Gladiator is slightly taller, however, and its height varies depending on trim and top style — yes, the convertible pickup is back! Soft-top Gladiators are either 76.1 inches tall in Rubicon trim or 75 inches tall in all other trim styles. Hardtop versions are all shorter, although the Rubicon is again taller at 74.1 inches instead of 73.1. For the Wrangler, height measures 73.6 inches regardless of trim or top.

The Gladiator also weighs more. Sport models tip the scales at 4,672 pounds with an automatic transmission; six-speed manual versions shed 22 pounds for a weight of 4,650. The same transmission difference applies to other trims as well. Overland models weigh either 4,742 or 4,720 pounds, and Rubicon models weigh either 5,072 or 5,050 pounds. All weights are with the 3.6-liter V-6 engine.

The four-door Wrangler weighs 4,320 pounds in Sport trim with the turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission. The same trim with the 3.6-liter V-6 weighs 4,200 pounds with the automatic transmission and 4,215 with the manual. Weights for Sahara models only differ by engine configuration: 4,380 pounds with the turbo four and 4,345 with the V-6. The situation is the same for the Rubicon: 4,485 pounds with the turbo four and 4,455 with the V-6.

Key Off-Road Measurements

Here's where things really get interesting. The Wrangler is one of the best off-road vehicles you can drive right off the dealership lot and onto the trails. What about the Gladiator?

Ground clearance is slightly better for the Gladiator; Sport and Overland trims sit 10 inches above the ground while the Rubicon gets 11.1 inches of ground clearance. On the Wrangler, meanwhile, it's 9.7 inches for Sport models, 10 inches for Sahara trims and 10.8 inches for the Rubicon.

Front and rear overhangs differ as well. The Gladiator has a front overhang of 29.7 inches, a half-inch longer than the Wrangler's 29.2; not much of a difference there. In back, however, the Gladiator has close to a foot more than the Wrangler: 51 inches versus 40.8.

The extra ground clearance for the Gladiator helps create some solid approach, departure and breakover angles. Approach angles for the Gladiator are 40.8 degrees for Sport and Overland models, and 43.4 for the Rubicon. Breakover angles follow the same pattern: 18.4 degrees for Sport and Overland, 20.3 for Rubicon. Departure angles are also identical for Sport and Overland models at 25 degrees; in the Rubicon, it's 26.

The Wrangler, however, with its shorter wheelbase, length and overhangs bests all of these numbers. Approach/breakover/departure angles for four-door Sport models are 41.4/20.3/36.1 degrees; in Sahara models they're 41.8/21/36.1 degrees; and in the Rubicon, 43.9/22.6/37 degrees.

Towing and Hauling

The Gladiator may not have quite the same abilities to tackle off-road obstacles, but it can certainly carry more goodies to the trailhead or park.

Jeep lists the Wrangler's max towing capacity as 3,500 pounds regardless of trim. Payload capacity for Sport models is 1,000 pounds, 880 for Sahara models and 892 for Rubicons. Gross combined weight ratings — which Jeep calculates at base weight plus max trailer weight plus a 150-pound driver (ha) — are 8,117 pounds for Sport models, 10,836 for Saharas and 11,063 for Rubicons.

The Gladiator is far less single-serving than its SUV sibling and is also available with a Max Towing Package. Towing capacities for the Sport model start at 4,000 pounds with the six-speed manual and 3.73:1 axle ratio. The automatic transmission with the same axle ratio bumps it up to 4,500 pounds. Switching to a 4.10:1 axle ratio — only available with the automatic — increases the max trailer weight to 6,000 pounds. Adding the Max Towing Package — only on the Sport — ups the max trailer weight to 7,650 pounds.

Overland models are only available with the 3:73:1 axle ratio. Manual-transmission models have a max trailer weight of 4,000 pounds and automatics can pull up to 6,000 pounds. Rubicon models, with the standard 4.10:1 axle ratio, can tow 4,500 or 7,000 pounds depending on manual or automatic transmission.


Payload capacities also differ depending on trim, transmission and axle ratio. Manual Sport models with the 3:73:1 ratio can carry the most payload at 1,600 pounds. Automatic 3.73:1 and 4.10:1 Sport models can carry 1,105 pounds. Adding the Max Towing Package ups carrying capacity to 1,535 pounds.

Overland models can carry either 1,140 or 1,120 pounds with the manual or automatic transmissions. Rubicon models can carry 1,200 pounds with the manual transmission and 1,160 pounds with the automatic.

Using the same formula as the Wrangler, GCWR ratings for Sport models are 9,100 pounds for manual-equipped 3.73:1 models, 9,650 for automatics. The 4.10:1 models can handle either 11,100 pounds or 12,800 with the Max Towing Package. Overland models have a GCWR or 9,100 or 11,100 pounds in manual or automatic configurations. Rubicon models are rated at 10,000 or 12,450 pounds with the manual or automatic. graphic by Paul Dolan; manufacturer images



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Road Test Editor Brian Normile joined the automotive industry and in 2013 and became part of the Editorial staff in 2014. Brian spent his childhood devouring every car magazine he got his hands on — not literally, eventually — and now reviews and tests vehicles to help consumers make informed choices. Someday, Brian hopes to learn what to do with his hands when he’s reviewing a car on camera, and to turn his 2021 Hyundai Veloster N into a tribute to the great Renault mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive hatchbacks. He would daily-drive an Alfa Romeo 4C if he could. Email Brian Normile

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