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!

More like this

Golden eagle soars

The Jeep legend was born in WWII but it came of age in the 1970s with a Golden Eagle version of the Jeep CJ7.

Drive this over the Jones

You'll stand out if you're prepared to hand over the moolah for the Jeep Brute Sport. It won’t so much be a case of ‘keeping up with the Jones’, as driving over them.

Featured

Back the sector that backs NZ

OPINION: The biggest issue currently facing our industry is environmental policy, writes Beef+Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor.

 

National

Lamb price down, but not weak

While lamb prices are starting the new season at around 16% below last year’s levels, they are not outright weak,…

Quota split a major worry

New Zealand meat exporters want the EU and UK to get serious on reaching a deal on post-Brexit quotas.

NZ meat exports at risk

Nearly half of our country’s meat exports are at risk unless there is urgent action by government to allow migrant…

Machinery & Products

Claas cargo wagon

CLAAS has extended the versatility, productivity and user comfort of its CARGOS dual purpose transport wagons with the addition of…

These tractors are pumping

CLAAS has announced it will introduce a new automatic tyre inflation system across its AXION and ARION series of tractors.

Great hay cut at speed

Contractors and farmers on the lookout to mow and condition at higher speeds, while producing better quality hay and forage,…

Fendt enters NZ harvest market

Farm machinery brand Fendt has expanded into the harvester market in Australia and New Zealand, with is Ideal combine harvester.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

He's back!

OPINION: This old mutt understands that former Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings has landed himself a new gig back in his…

Utu?

OPINION: Your canine crusader understands that the farmer’s favourite politician – Environment Minister David Parker – not content with implementing…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter