It’s time to see who would win in an off-road shootout: the Jeep Wrangler or the new Jeep Gladiator.
The time has finally come to determine which Jeep reigns supreme. The Wrangler has always been the king of off-road SUVs in a class all to itself, but now there’s a new Jeep on the block. The Gladiator has often been described as a Wrangler with a bed, and is thus a clear challenger for the Wrangler’s crown.
With so much the same between the two vehicles, it’s hard to say which one will come out on top when both are put through the grueling outdoor course in Moab, Utah. Both vehicles have the same 8-speed automatic transmission. Both have the same 3.6-L Pentastar V6 available with 280 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, however, the Wrangler Rubicon tested is actually powered by the new 2.0-L turbocharged 4-cylinder with 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Both have the same interior, the same solid axles, and the same locking differentials with crawl control and all the other off-road goodies. The biggest differences (besides the aforementioned bed) is the Gladiator has a unique frame that’s both longer and stronger than the Wrangler, beefier axles to handle the added weight, Fox dampers, and Falken off-road tires.
There are a few other big differences as well. The Wrangler is both lighter and shorter than the Gladiator and therefore has an easier time navigating the dangerous rocks of Moab. Twice the Gladiator bottoms-out like a beached whale and needed to reverse in order to get over a particularly bothersome hump, while the Wrangler was able to crawl over anything the desert threw at it with ease.
Another big difference is the price. The Wrangler Rubicon as tested cost $58,890, and while we didn’t have the exact price of the Gladiator, we know based on previously released pricing details that it probably cost well over $60,000.
The Wrangler is the clear winner for off-road performance, but the Gladiator is the winner in towing thanks to a max trailering capacity of 7,500 lbs. If you want a pure off-road Jeep, the Wrangler is still king, but if you want to haul a yacht to the lake, the Gladiator is a decent compromise.