Which new mid-size pickup is the king of off-road: the 2019 Ford Ranger or the 2020 Jeep Gladiator?
We’ve been seeing the Gladiator pitted against a lot of opponents lately, including the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. That matchup was a bit of a tie as, while the Gladiator has a bunch of features that the Bison doesn’t, the Bison is just covered in so much armor that it can take anything that nature can dish out.
The Ranger isn’t nearly as much of an off-road beast, but that doesn’t mean it’s just meant for the comforts of concrete. Ford ensured that the FX4 came with skid plates, a locking rear differential, and a terrain management system that allows the driver to adjust the pickup’s traction control to account for road, mud, sand, and gravel.
The Gladiator doesn’t have fancy terrain management, but it does have both front and rear locking differentials, disconnectable sway bars, and Fox damping shocks that really smooth out the bumps on an unfinished surface.
Things are even more different under the hood. The 3.6-L Pentastar V6 puts out 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, but the boys over at The Fast Lane Truck preferred the Ranger’s 2.3-L turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder with 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. It just felt like the gruntier engine, even though power isn’t all that matters when off-roading.
What really matters is the chassis, and while the Ranger is great, it still managed to get itself planted into the dirt on one of the obstacles. The Gladiator, meanwhile, took everything like a champ with barely a scratch.
In the end, the boys concluded that the Ranger was just the better pickup truck. It has a larger bed, better carrying capacity and towing. But the Gladiator is the better off-roader thanks to its solid axles and locking differentials. Plus, the Gladiator gets kudos for being a Jeep and being able to shed its roof and doors. What other pickup can make that claim?