We Drove a $60,000 Jeep Gladiator: Here's What You Do and Don't Get

6a017ee6664cf9970d0240a48bc5a2200d-800wi.jpeg photos by Fred Meier

Jeep's 2020 Gladiator pickup truck gets pricey in a hurry, particularly if you want maximum trail capability and upscale features for on-the-road comfort. If so, a top-dog Gladiator Rubicon can hit $60,000. That's a lot for a mid-size pickup, more even than rivals' loaded off-road versions — but maybe not so eye-popping for Jeep fans, many of whom spend nearly that for a loaded Wrangler Rubicon without the bonus of the bed. And what other mid-size truck lets you remove the doors, fold down the windshield or make it a convertible?


So, what do you get for your $60,000? We spent time in a heavily optioned Rubicon that tipped the scales at $59,830 (including a lofty $1,495 destination fee) and the short answer is that you get a lot, though not everything the Gladiator offers. A few other factory options I'd want would push the Rubicon's sticker comfortably past $60,000, and that's before shopping for the array of extras already available from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Mopar or prolific aftermarket Jeep outfitters.

Our $60K Rubicon started at $45,040 with destination, which gets you hardcore off-road capability, but it's just a start before adding options that variously make it more comfortable, more practical and safer. Those include some you might have expected to have already on a $45,000 pickup, and it quickly hits $60K. How did we get there? Here's what you get for that money — and what you don't.

Creature Comforts

The Rubicon builds a lot of practicality and storage into the interior, including flip-up rear seat cushions for cross-cab cargo and under-seat storage. And there is a dedicated box for the bits and bolts you don't want to lose when you reconfigure the Jeep. The Rubicon also includes a 7-inch touchscreen with FCA's Uconnect system and a USB port.

But when you're already spending this much for a truck, you don't want a work-truck cab, and our $60K Rubicon is a nice place to be thanks to several option packages. A $1,595 bundle brought the multimedia tech up to speed with an 8.4-inch touchscreen, a nine-speaker Alpine audio system, an upgraded Uconnect system with navigation and satellite radio. And for tunes in the outdoors, it also had a $295 portable Bluetooth speaker box that stores a charging dock behind the rear seatback.

The electronics also included a $295 package with four user-programmable auxiliary switches, as well as a beefier battery. Our truck also had a proximity key fob, adding $495.

The standard cloth seats were upgraded to leather trim with a $1,495 package that also includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel and brake handle, a full-length floor console with upgraded armrest, a rear-seat armrest with cupholders, and nicer door panels. And a $995 cold-weather package added heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. For a quieter cabin and better temperature control, our Rubicon's hardtop also had a $555 insulating headliner.

As-Tested 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Pricing Breakdown

  • Base price: $45,040 with destination
  • Leather-trimmed bucket seats: $1,495
  • Trailer Tow Package: $250
  • Cold Weather Group: $995
  • Premium LED Lighting Group: $995
  • 8.4-Inch Radio and Premium Audio Group: $1,595
  • Jeep Active Safety Group: $895
  • Adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning: $795
  • Auxiliary Switch Group: $295
  • Hardtop headliner: $555
  • All-weather slush mats: $150
  • Eight-speed automatic 850RE transmission: $2,000
  • Remote proximity keyless entry: $495
  • Body-colored three-piece hardtop: $2,295
  • Winch-capable steel front bumper: $695
  • Body-colored fender flares: $495
  • Wireless Bluetooth speaker: $295
  • Spray-in bedliner: $495

Under the Hood

The sole Gladiator engine for now is a 285-horsepower, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6. A turbo-diesel 3.0-liter is promised for 2020 and likely will push the price tag higher. A six-speed manual is standard; our $60K Rubicon had the $2,000 eight-speed automatic with skid plate. It gets slightly better EPA-estimated city gas mileage, though lower highway mileage, than the stick at 17/22/19 mpg city/highway/combined versus 16/23/19 mpg. The powertrain was adequate, but it was no neck-snapper.

Go-Anywhere Tech

The top Rubicon trim level loads up the Gladiator with go-anywhere tech as part of the deal. Compared to other Gladiators, the Rubicon's higher starting price includes an inch more lift, 4.10:1 gearing and the more capable of Gladiator's two part-time four-wheel-drive systems.

Rubicon gets the Rock-Trac system with a shift-on-the-fly transfer case that has a 4:1 low-range (that multiplies to an 84.2:1 crawl ratio and 77.2:1 on Rubicons with an automatic) and includes an Off-Road Mode Plus setting that adjusts throttle and stability control settings for sand in 4-High and rock crawling in 4-Low. Rubicon also has standard Tru-Lok electronic locking front and rear differentials, heavier Dana 44 solid axles, an electronic front sway bar disconnect and Fox performance shock absorbers. Our $60K Gladiator had the standard Rubicon 17-by-7.5-inch aluminum wheels fitted with 33-inch Falken all-terrain tires; fancier wheels and more aggressive mud-terrain tires (no charge) are available. The fender flares for those wide tires were body color on our Rubicon, adding $495 to the sticker.

The Rubicon's capability could get you into trouble, and our $60K version included a $695 winch-capable steel front bumper. Tow hooks are standard, as are the rock rails at the sides and rear corners on the Rubicon.

Towing and Payload

If you need maximum towing ability, save your money and get the base Sport trim level. With the eight-speed automatic and maximum towing package, its rating tops out at 7,650 pounds. reviewer Aaron Bragman found pulling a 6,000-pound Airstream trailer requires flogging the 3.6-liter, but it accomplished the task, complicated by light steering and small side mirrors. Our heavier Rubicon had the $250 tow package that gets you a Class IV receiver hitch, camera zoom for the hitch, beefier engine cooling and alternator, and is rated to tow up to 7,000 pounds. The Rubicon payload is similarly less for more money at 1,160 pounds for our automatic-equipped truck versus a maximum of 1,600 pounds for a lighter Sport with the manual.

Bed Tech

The 5-foot bed offers utility, at least for an outdoor adventure lifestyle rather than hauling masonry. Our $60K Rubicon included a tough $495 spray-in bedliner as well as the standard three-stage tailgate that can be positioned with clever hooks to utilize the full bed width above the wheel humps for 4-by-8-foot materials (up 11 sheets of three-quarter-inch plywood). There also are sturdy standard tie-downs at the lower four corners and a light, but no gee-whiz features. I'd also note below that for $60K, the bed still was missing some options I'd want. You can find more details on all the bed's features on .

Safety Essentials

I get that this is a truck for risk-takers, but it's going to spend a lot of time on pavement. The $60K Rubicon had essential safety tech for crowded streets, but it required two option packages. An $895 Active Safety Group added blind spot and rear cross-traffic warnings, along with rear parking sensors. And a $795 package added a full-speed forward collision warning with automatic braking, as well as adaptive cruise control to a full stop.

Lighting It Up

Whether for safety, energy efficiency, looks or all of the above, the $60K Rubicon had a $995 bundle of LED light all around — headlights (in a Jeep-round housing), taillights, foglights, daytime running lights, turn signals and parking lights.

Topping It Off

Along with the removable doors and drop-down the windshield, Gladiator buys you the capability to lose the roof for a unique convertible pickup. Our $60K Gladiator was upgraded from the standard cloth top with a $2,295 body-color hardtop removable in up to three pieces. The package also includes a rear sliding window and rear window defroster. Cheaper alternatives include the three-piece Freedom hardtop in black ($1,195) or a premium Sunrider version of the soft-top ($595). Or for the same $2,295, you could have an all-season package that includes the Freedom and Sunrider.

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What You Don't Get at This Price

This $60K Rubicon is a deluxe truck with close to everything you need or want, but there still are a few things you don't or can't get. For one, there is no Tow/Haul mode offered for the automatic transmission, odd for a pickup that touts its towing capability. A more sophisticated trailer tow camera setup would be nice to have available, as would an integrated trailer brake controller. And I'd like a bed step in the rear bumper.

It's not a complaint, but despite the large price tag, you'll have to find a comfortable seating position the old-fashioned way: with levers and a knob. That's a trade-off for the Gladiator's impressive 30-inch fording capability in order to keep electrical components above the water line.

And there still are some option boxes you might want to check (and boost the price). For example, all of this off-road capability begs for the forward-view camera that's available for another $595.

Our Rubicon did not have a household power outlet in the bed, but there is one standard in the cab. And you can have a 115-volt, 400-watt, three-prong outlet near the tailgate, more convenient for tools or gear. However, it is bundled into an $895 cargo package with features including lockable storage under the rear seat (which I'd also want) and an adjustable rail system high on three sides of the bed with more tie-downs and mounting for cross-bars to add more accessories.

A bed cover to protect or hide your cargo would be a necessity for many buyers, and Jeep offers a soft tonneau cover that locks with the tailgate and looks good rolled up like a saddle roll. A Jeep spokesman says that hard and soft tri-fold covers are coming, too. The roll-up tonneau cover would add $495.

But those options, which I got to check out on other Gladiators at the drive event, would have pushed our Rubicon to an even loftier $61,815.

Photo of Fred Meier
Former D.C. Bureau Chief Fred Meier, who lives every day with Washington gridlock, has an un-American love of small wagons and hatchbacks. Email Fred Meier

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