Tuesday, 06 October 2020 12:26

Like a red rag to a bull!

Written by  Mark Daniel
The new Jeep Gladiator is a truck – not a ute! The new Jeep Gladiator is a truck – not a ute!

Mark Daniel reviews the new Jeep Gladiator truck.

Firstly, I feel I must declare a little bias here. 

If a truck is painted the same colour as a Welsh rugby jersey it’s going to have to be good. Let’s also confirm that the new Jeep Gladiator is a truck, not a ute.

First impressions – it’s big! Not RAM 2500 big. However, at 5.6 metres long, it’s 300mm longer than a Ford Ranger. Its 3090mm wheelbase is also 300mm longer than that of a Hilux. This latter point has the effect of putting the load tray behind the centre line of the rear axle, which in turns promotes better weight distribution and a less choppy ride.

Based around the Jeep Wrangler JL, but with a 787mm longer frame and a 492mm longer wheelbase, the Rubicon-spec machine we lived with for a week certainly grew on you. Jumping up into the cabin could be a stretch for the vertically-challenged, but so is getting on a large horse. 

Once in, the saddle leather clad seats offered great support and, like the steering wheel, are heated – an unexpected bonus on a winter morning. Adjustment was ample and combined with tilt and telescopic steering wheel a good driving position could be found. The only real criticism was a small place to rest the left foot, restricted by a transmission tunnel “bump” in the foot well, and made worse if you wear work boots.

Motive power is taken care of by the V6 – a naturally aspirated and thirsty 3.6-litre Pentastar engine. This pushes out 209kW power and 346Nm torque, and in turn is mated to a ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission. It is responsive, delightfully smooth and best left to its own devices. Two versions are available, the well specified Overland and the upgraded Rubicon that was our red steed. Overland gets Jeep’s Selec-Trac Active On-Demand 4x4 system, 18-inch alloys, keyless entry and a removable hard top roof. Add in a bunch of safety features like LED daytime running lights, full speed forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and stop, blind spot monitor and rear cross path detection and the Gladiator is right up there. Options include a roll-up tonneau cover, spray-in bed liners and a host of outdoor activity fittings.

Gladiator Rubicon takes things a step further with the Rock-Trac Active On-demand 4x4 system featuring 4-Lo, with Select Speed Control. This automatically holds the vehicle at a pre-set between 1 and 8km/h in very difficult terrain. In addition, Tru-Lok front and rear locking differentials keep things moving and a front sway bar disconnect function keeps the wheels planted to terra firma. 

With tough stuff in mind, 2-inch Fox dampers are fitted fore and aft, while a forward-facing trail camera gives a view of the terrain ahead.

While both versions feature skid plates to protect the fuel tank, transfer case and the transmission oil pan, the up-spec Rubicon also gets 32-inch BF Goodrich off-road tyres mounted on 17-inch alloys, black fender flares and a steel rear bumper assembly.

During our week with the Gladiator, its size is quickly forgotten – although not in the case of the domestic manager, who refused to climb up into the cab. We enjoyed the relaxed driving style, the surprisingly comfortable drive and, of course, the admiring glances – no doubt brought on by the Welsh Dragon Red paint job. 

Is the Gladiator a suitable choice for a working vehicle? Probably not. With a braked towing capacity of only 2721kg and a carrying capacity of only 620kg, it falls quite a way behind most of the one tonne utes out there. 

But remember where we started – this isn’t a ute. So, if you want to “attack” the outdoors, maybe with the roof and doors off, or drive something different with looks as rugged as John Wayne, Gladiator might be the choice for you – in red, of course!

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Lely offerings for the future

Dutch robotic specialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020.

Designed to connect data from a range of on-farm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely.

Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way.

Lely claims the Horizon application unburdens farmers from routine decision making and helps them optimise their workloads, using integrated routines based on easily scheduled cow ‘touches’, create logical and more efficient workflows. It is also possible to assign a certain task to an employee and to schedule a time slot for the cow touch, rather than analysing different reports and filtering long lists.

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To ensure full support in the migration to Lely Horizon, existing Lely T4C customers will be personally informed by their Lely Center before the end of 2020.

The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021.

Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh” has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding.

Lely suggests that feeding fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and bought-in feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced.

Based around an all-electric vehicle that mows and feeds, Exos is light weight and uses soil friendly technology, that can be exploited throughout the growing season. Design to work 24/7 as feed requirements change, the system places no constraints on labour or time, while it is also designed to work in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding systems.

In operation, Exos also collects field data as it goes about its job, giving framers live data on grass supply and lending itself to a further concept of delivering a targeted liquid fertiliser as it passes over a harvested area.

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