Every now and then, a new car is released that ignites the internet with speculation and anticipation. When spy shots of an unknown Jeep pickup were leaked, most Jeep fans assumed it was just a Wrangler with a bed. But when Jeep announced they were finally building a new pickup named the Gladiator, the whole internet sat up and took notice.
It seems that anyone who off-roads secretly wishes they owned a Wrangler, a model known to many as the ultimate off-roader. However, the utility of a pickup truck is hard to beat and many potential Jeep owners have found themselves unable to tear themselves away from their favorite practical setup. It seems remarkable then, that Jeep has taken so long to identify this and do something about it.
Jeep fans have been calling for the company to release a pickup for years. The aftermarket industry stands as a testament to how popular conversion kits have been. Jeep remained tight-lipped but recently confirmed that the Jeep Gladiator will be launched sometime around Spring 2019. Again, the prelaunch campaign—or lack thereof—has been astonishing, with even Jeep dealerships being kept mostly in the dark.
With a lack of any official information forthcoming, it’s been left for savvy internet detectives to piece together pieces of the puzzle. We’ve poured over every piece of information available and annoyed Jeep employees for any piece of information they can release, to bring you 20 things about the upcoming Jeep pickup that make no sense (so far).
20 It Won’t Have A Hellcat Engine
One of the more interesting rumors surrounding the launch of the Jeep Gladiator was that it might come with a 707-horsepower V8 engine from a Dodge Hellcat. The internet went into meltdown when a Hellcat-powered 6x6 Wrangler went up for sale on Craigslist, fueling speculation that the new Jeep Gladiator was going to be the most powerful pickup available. So what engine options are available for the Gladiator? Well, to be frank, not much. All models will only have the tedious 3.0-liter V6 Pentastar putting out 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Apparently, there is a diesel option coming but not until the end of 2020.
19 You Paid How Much?
A preview of the 2020 pricing for the Jeep Gladiator reveals it’s anywhere from a little to a lot more expensive than its rivals. Clearly, Jeep is counting on customers that are already loyal to its brand in order to kickstart sales. However, this is a huge gamble for Jeep that could backfire spectacularly. There are already questions being asked as to why the base model doesn’t come standard with power windows and remote locking, remarkable oversights for a brand new car. Once options are added, the price jumps quickly, meaning that the Jeep Gladiator could be pricing itself out of the market before it’s even launched.
18 Tiny Mirrors
Although we don’t want to get into a debate about size versus function, there’s no escaping the fact that the side mirrors on the Jeep Gladiator are tiny. Although the Gladiator isn’t a huge truck compared to some, it is larger than most mid-sized pickups, measuring at 218 inches long and 73.8 inches wide. This isn’t a problem in itself until you realize that the side mirrors on the Gladiator are tiny and therefore, practically useless. When towing a trailer, it’s impossible to make any use of them whatsoever. Thankfully, fitting aftermarket mirrors will solve the problem but considering how many people will use the Gladiator as a tow vehicle, this was an unacceptable oversight by Jeep.
17 The Bed Is Also Tiny
After spending hours examining photographs of the Jeep Gladiator, the natural conclusion is that the body is too disproportionate—and Jeep fanboys agree. This is especially noticeable with the bed, which looks tiny compared to the cabin. There is also a significant amount of overhang, well past the rear tire. It looks boxy and unrefined. The bed is five feet in length but overall, the pickup is still longer than any other that offers the same size of bed on the market. For some reason, Jeep has made this bed size the only available option, despite rivals offering different bed sizes and configurations.
16 The Cramped Interior
Jeep generally does a decent job with their interior design and the Gladiator is no exception. The interior is well laid out and uncluttered. However, due to some some exterior strengthening that was needed because of the removable roof and doors, the interior feels cramped, particularly for rear passengers. The Gladiator could be used as a pickup for the entire family but larger children will find the rear space uncomfortable. Given that the Gladiator is a lifestyle vehicle, it seems a shame to have an interior that doesn’t quite match the price point and hopefully, this is something that Jeep will address with subsequent models.
15 That Rear Door Cutaway
Just in case the Jeep Gladiator didn’t look enough like a Wrangler, it also shares the same rear door cutaway. The shape of the rear door makes sense in the Wrangler because it’s angled a certain way to clear the rear wheel well. But due to the Gladiators long wheelbase, it doesn’t have the same problem. Jeep was happy to clarify why they kept the Wrangler doors, stating that it was just cheaper and easier for them to produce the same rear door for both models. So, if you found the rear passenger space annoying to access in the Wrangler, you can look forward to having the exact same issue in the Gladiator.
14 Every Gladiator Is A Convertible
For reasons we can’t explain, every Jeep Gladiator will have a removable roof. If you want a Gladiator with a non-removable roof, you simply can’t buy one. The Gladiator will come with two roof options: a hard top and a soft top. The hard top is split into front and rear sections and the front section removes quite easily. The rear section is another story altogether; it requires tools, disconnection of wiring, and if you know what you’re doing, it can apparently be removed in just five minutes. The soft-top option is much easier to remove, although it folds back on itself and sits on top of the attached frame, meaning it can easily be caught or snagged when off-roading.
13 The Location Of The Third Brake Light
Due to every Gladiator having a removable roof, it was impossible to mount the third brake light in the normal position. To get around this problem, Jeep instead mounted it in the tailgate, at the top of the handle. Too busy patting themselves on the back for being clever, Jeep designers didn’t realize that if any kind of rear mounted bike rack is affixed to the tow hitch, the brake light is no longer visible. To get around that problem, Jeep decided not to offer a rear mounted bike rack for sale. Presumably, an aftermarket parts manufacturer with an ounce of forethought will come up with a better solution.
12 Tiny Lockable Storage Space
Like most pickups, the Jeep Gladiator attempts to create extra storage inside the cab to make up for the loss of a trunk. To do this, Jeep has made some small space behind the rear seat available—but they filled half of it with a removable Bluetooth speaker. Similarly, they have designed the rear seats to maximize storage space underneath. This is a good idea on paper but in reality, the lock-up storage boxes that sit under the rear seat are designed in a way that they take up far too much space. Jeep has confirmed that the storage box will be optional but it remains to be seen if aftermarket manufacturers will offer space-saving options.
11 Inconvenient Window Switches
Having removable doors posed a unique challenge for the designers of the new Gladiator. How would the power window switches operate when the doors are removed? To solve this dilemma, they have hidden the switches in the center console, meaning you not only have to search for them but once you’ve found them, reach forward to access them. The rear switches are even worse because their position is beneath the driver's center armrest. Before anybody points out that the windows come out with the doors, making the need to relocate the switches somewhat redundant, we assume this will be something that Jeep will rethink with future design updates.
10 Trail Cam
The dedicated off-road model, the Gladiator Rubicon, has an optional and tiny front-mounted camera. When activated via the infotainment screen, it displays the trail in front of the hood. This feature has been mostly overlooked, presumably because most people who want to know what is in front of them will look out the windscreen to check for themselves. It remains to be seen how well this will be implemented but we can’t see it becoming compulsory on all new pickups in the future. In case you were worried about the camera getting dirty, Jeep has included a camera cleaner, which works similar to a windshield washer.
9 No Torque, No Action
Being powered by the asthmatic Pentastar V6 means the Gladiator suffers from an obvious lack of torque. The engine makes just 260 lb-ft, to be exact. This may be enough for most people when they’re crawling trails but for towing large loads, it is nowhere near adequate. Jeep has promised to address this when the upcoming EcoDiesel engine variant is released. The 3.0-liter motor promises a monstrous 442 lb-ft of torque, instead. The lack of torque can be a problem with the automatic transmission especially, with the computer holding gear changes for as long as possible. Thankfully, there is an option to change it into a manual mode and reclaim some of the control that is needed off-road.
8 It Handles Like A Shopping Cart
Jeep Wranglers have always been dogged by awful handling and for some inexplicable reason, Jeep didn’t attempt to improve this in the Gladiator. The steering in the Gladiator feels too light for a midsized pickup and needs near constant correcting when being driven at highway speed. Through corners and twisting roads, it seems to settle down a little but the steering lacks the precision of its rivals. There is also noticeable body lean, more than would be expected from a truck this height. A common modification that Wrangler owners undertake is to fit a steering stabilizer kit and it seems that Gladiator owners will need to follow suit.
7 Poor Breakover And Departure Angles
One video that is circulating the internet showed the limited departure angle of the Gladiator, with the body of the truck scraping on rocks. The Rubicon variant will have rock rails fitted under its doors, an acknowledgment of how long the wheelbase of the Gladiator is. Departure angles are worse than the Wrangler due to the added length of the bed, being 26 degrees compared to 37 degrees in the Wrangler. The Breakover angle is also less, down from 22.6 down to 20.3 degrees. This means that owners will have to take added care not to high-center their new Jeep when off-roading.
6 Reduced Towing Capacity With The Diesel
Towing capacity will depend on model and transmission. It won’t tow as much as a diesel GMC Canyon or Chevrolet Colorado but the towing capacity is greatly increased over the Wrangler. While not giving an exact figure, Jeep has admitted that the diesel-powered Gladiator coming in late 2020 will have a decreased tow capacity over the V6 powered model. The reason has something to do with cooling apparently, as Jeep already had to widen the grill and increase the size of the vents over the Wrangler. So, when the diesel model arrives it will offer a lot more torque but decreased towing capacity.
5 Five-Lug Axles
One of the strangest things about the Jeep Gladiator is Jeep's decision to use five-lug axles. It’s a baffling decision considering they utilized solid heavy duty Dana 44 axles. All of Jeeps competitors offer six-lug axles and have done so since the early 2000s. While the five-lug axles are probably adequate, they don’t exactly give the appearance of either strength or a premium product, which is how the Gladiator is attempting to position itself in the market. The only possible reason for offering five-lug axles is to manipulate gross vehicle ratings but it probably won’t be long before an upgraded towing package is made available, meaning the axles will then have to be converted.
4 Missing Trailer Brake Controller
A number of features and design flaws mean the Gladiator is not entirely built for towing but the fact remains that a large number of owners will use their Jeeps for exactly that purpose. It’s surprising that they have chosen not to offer a trailer brake controller to enable owners to tow heavy loads safely. It’s entirely possible that Mopar will offer different tow-assisting products such as a brake controller, towing mirrors, and a weight distributing hitch but there has been no official confirmation of this. The lack of tow assists that come as standard represents a huge missed opportunity for Jeep.
3 No Commercial Option
We have touched on the lack of options and configurations already but this is another area where Jeep seems to have fallen short of the mark. Jeeps are known for their ruggedness and to not offer some kind of industrial-use configuration means they are likely to miss out on a number of fleet contracts. Not offering a longer bed or configurable tool storage packages shows a lack of understanding of the commercial market and will be a limiting factor in the Jeep Gladiator's popularity and growth. Some of these options would benefit tradesmen and farmers who use their pickups for light commercial use.
2 It Has A Silly Name
Gladiator isn’t the worst name they could have chosen for the new Jeep, but it is a somewhat strange choice considering it looks exactly like a Wrangler with a small bed. Initial media reports alluded to the new Jeep being called the Scrambler, but Jeep executives wanted a name that was both masculine and a throwback to when Jeep built proper pickups in the 1960s. Jeep does have a tradition of launching cars with ridiculous sounding names, such as the Wagoneer and the Jamboree. Finally, Gladiators were Roman soldiers and prisoners who would entertain audiences and any link to a Detroit-made pickup remains vague at best.
1 It Looks Like A Wrangler
You wouldn’t be surprised if we told you that Jeep doesn’t like change. There is a rumour going around that all their employees must park in the same car park every day and they have to get managerial approval when they buy a different colored shirt. This is also their philosophy behind exterior design and the internet is chock full of articles with detailed instructions about how to tell one Jeep model apart from the next. Given that this is the first proper pickup that Jeep has made for 27 years, it would have made sense to give it some unique styling cues, at the least so that Jeep owners can tell them apart.
Sources: Jeep, Motor1, and Top Speed.