What is it The first Jeep pickup since the ill-conceived – and best forgotten – 1992 Comanche. It is also, in Jeep's humble opinion, "the most capable midsize truck ever."
Why is it important? Well, unless you've been living in the cave, you should know that even remotely truck-like is selling like hot cakes. Combine that with comely Wrangler looks and the Jeep nameplate, and pretty much everybody in the business – even Jeep's competitors – thinks the Gladiator is going to be a smash hit.
As for that "most capable" boast, the Gladiator is available with 33-inch off-road tires, Dana 44 axles, Tru-Lock electric front and rear-axle lockers, a Trac-Lok limited-slip differential and a segment- exclusive electronic sway-bar disconnect system. In other words, it's off-road friendly. It's also something of a workhorse, capable of towing 3,475 kilograms and carrying 725 kilos in its five-foot bed. To show how serious a work truck is, jeep engineers even printed dirt bike knobby tires on its fore wall to show motocross riders exactly where to load their bikes.
Like the Wrangler standard, there's a fold-down windshield so you can get closer to nature, both soft and hard tops, and completely unique in this segment, all four doors can be removed for a true open-air experience. There is even a forward-facing off-road camera available on Rubicon that allows obstructions on the trail to be easily seen.
But not all about the new Gladiator is meant to be rough and tumble. Two standard USB ports are available, and in shades of modernity, there's also a USB-C port up front along with a 400-watt, 115-volt AC three-pronged outlet. Throw in the fourth-generation Uconnect infotainment – that includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto playing on either seven- or 8.4-inch touchscreens with pinch-and-zoom capability – and maybe there's some truth to that most capable grandiloquence.
Oh, motivation – I almost forgot – comes from either a 285-horsepower Pentstar V6 or FCA's 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6.
When is it coming? The Jeep Gladiator will arrive in the second quarter of 2019 as a 2020 model.
Should you buy it? What part of the "most capable" did not you get? Again, this is a pickup truck that is authentically styled like a Jeep and has all – OK, most – of the storied brand's off-road ability – it will ford through 30-inch deep streams, for example – so what's not to like? Easily the hit of the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, Jeeps is going to sell all of these Gladiator things it can build.