All hail the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, promising to be a pickup par excellence and the midsize truck to make you forget anything Chevrolet or Ford might have on offer. Making its long-anticipated debut at the LA Auto Show 2018 today, the 2020 Gladiator gives Jeep a crew cab option, with a 5-foot steel bed and the styling the automaker is known for.
Indeed, at the front you’d be forgiven for mistaking the Gladiator for a Jeep Wrangler. You get the familiar keystone-shaped grille and round headlamps, while at the rear the square tail lamps are present and correct. There’s a fold-down windshield, too, and the choice of a soft top or two hardtops.
Indeed, Jeep says there are literally dozens of different combinations of door, top, and windshields. The Gladiator Overland and Rubicon models will offer LED headlamps and fog lamps, too, while Gladiator trims with LEDs will have halo-like daytime running lights.
Of course, just looking the part wouldn’t be enough in this segment, even with Jeep’s brand cachet. Happily the 2020 Gladiator promises to be just as capable as it is handsome. There’s up to 7,650 pounds of towing capacity and up to 1,600 pounds of payload capacity, while the damped tailgate can be locked in three positions.
Under-rail bed lighting and integrated tie-downs are also to be found in the bed, and there’s an optional power system that adds a 400W, 115 volt three-prong outlet. A Trail Rail Cargo Management System is also available. Jeep hides the Gladiator’s full-sized spare tire and mount under the bed.
Gladiator Overland and Rubicon models get an available three-piece body-color hardtop; all models can have a black three-piece hardtop. Two “Freedom” panels make open-air driving more accessible, and all of the hardtops have a manual rear-sliding window. The Sunrider soft top, meanwhile, supports both partial and full open positions.
Inside, a retro dashboard gets a bold, horizontal design. Gladiator Overland trim gets a hand-wrapped panel with a soft-touch surface; that’s an option on Rubicon models. The HVAC vents have platinum chrome bezels. Jeep has purposefully selected big, easily gripped controls for climate and multimedia control, among other features, and there’s a push-button starter.
Cloth or leather contoured seats support adjustable bolster and lumbar support. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel are optional. The rear seas, meanwhile, can be folded flat – with LED lights illuminating the storage space opened up that way – but can also be locked into place to make for secure storage behind the seat back. An optional lockable bin provides safe storage even when the roof and doors are removed, or the windshield is lowered.
A 3.5-inch display in the driver’s instrumentation is standard, with a 7-inch screen an option. Steering wheel controls handle voice recognition, audio, and other features. Either a 7-inch or 8.4-inch touchscreen deals with the fourth-gen Uconnect infotainment system, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; a 5-inch touchscreen is installed on he Gladiator Sport. Even with those touchscreens, there are dedicated controls for climate control and media volume.
Two USB port and a USB-C port are included, as is a 115 volt AC outlet. An audio upgrade with a removable wireless speaker can be added, too. The Gladiator Rubicon can be had with a forward-facing off-road camera, beaming a picture back from the Gladiator’s grille, to show the road straight ahead.
As for the engine options, there’ll be a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 first, with a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 following on in 2020. The gas engine has 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission as standard. An 8-speed automatic is optional.
The diesel, meanwhile, will get 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. It’ll be fitted with an 8-speed automatic as standard. The auto transmission gets a 77.2:1 crawl ratio.
Two 4×4 systems will be available. Command-Trac 4×4 will be standard on the Sport and Overland, with a two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, and heavy-duty third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a 3.73 rear axle ratio. The 2020 Gladiator Rubicon, meanwhile, has a Rock-Trac 4×4 system. That uses heavy-duty third-gen Dana 44 front and rear axles with a “4LO” ratio of 4:1. A 4.10 front and rear axle ratio is standard as are Tru-Lok locking differentials.
A Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential will be optional on the Sport and Overland models. Sport, Overland, and Rubicon trucks will get skid plates and front and rear tow hooks, while the Rubicon models will have a 33-inch tire as standard. The pickup will be able to handle up to 30-inches of water fording, with an approach angle of 43.6 degrees, breakover angle of 20.3 degrees, departure angle of 26 degrees, and ground clearance of 11.1 inches.
Built with a body-on-frame design, there’s five-link coil suspension and four steel cross-members to reinforce the pickup’s load floor. While it make look like a Wrangler, the Gladiator’s frame is in fact 31-inches longer, with a 19.4-inch longer wheelbase.
All in all, it’s a striking truck with some serious potential for off-road and utility use. Jeep says the 2020 Gladiator will show up in dealerships in Q2 2019, with pricing to be confirmed closer to that point.