Toughened-up revised Jeep Gladiator enters the arena
Departure of the diesel means the Gladiator now makes sole use of a petrol engine.
Mojave X and Rubicon X are two new additions to the Gladiator range. Image: Jeep
Having made its initial debut five years ago, Jeep officially detailed the mildly updated Gladiator on the first day of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Wednesday evening (13 September).
What has changed?
Introduced as Jeep’s first bakkie since the departure of the XJ Cherokee-based Comanche in 1992, the Gladiator, which the automaker describes as being both “100% Jeep and 100% truck”, incorporates elements from the model on which it is based, the Wrangler, which itself benefitted from a number updates at the New York Auto Show in April.
Going on sale by year-end in North America, with order books now open, the double cab only Gladiator’s exterior tweaks consist of the same blacked-out seven-slot grille as the Wrangler, a new arial integrated into the windscreen and wheel sizes ranging from 32 to 33 inches.
As before, the Gladiator can have its doors and roof removed completely and the windscreen folded onto the bonnet, with three roof options again being available; a conventional soft or hard-top, and the Sunrider that denotes an electric soft-top not extending to the rear seats − these being covered by the hard-top.
Completing the exterior are nine colour options; black, Sarge (green), Bright White, Silver Zynith, Granite Crystal, High Velocity (yellow), Hydro Blue and Firecracker Red with a new addition being a primer-type grey called Anvil.
Inside, Jeep has been less subtle by availing the Gladiator with a new dashboard as part of all models coming standard with a new 12.3-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system resplendent with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
A greater use of type-C USB ports, restyled air vents and more soft-touch materials round the interior off, together with an improved voice recognition system.
On the specification side, the Gladiator range increases from four to six derivatives with the Sport and Sport+ returning, but not the Overland, which makes way for the new Mojave and Mojave X.
As on the Wrangler, a Willys trim level now resides between the Sport+ and Mojave, with the Rubicon and Rubicon X completing the line-up.
4WD for all
Dimensionally, the Gladiator continues unaltered with the same applying to its 783 kg payload and tow rating of 3 493 kg. The rated ground clearance of between 282 mm to 295 mm, depending on the tyres, is also unchanged, as is the Jeep’s ability to ford water up to 800 mm.
Similar to the Wrangler, the Gladiator offers a choice of four four-wheel-drives system, all with low range; the part-time Command-Trac on the Sport and Sport+, the Command-Trac with the Tru-Lok rear diff-lock on the Willys, the full-time Selec-Trac and the Rock-Trac in both part-time and full-time configurations.
On the Mojave, the former Command-Trac setup applies, along with a 25 mm lift-kit, heavy-duty Dana 44 front and rear axles, a bonnet scoop, steel rock rails and Fox adaptive shock absorbers.
Reserved for the Rubicon is the part-time Rock-Trac system, the electronic sway-bar disconnect, Tru-Lok front and rear locking differentials, solid Dana 44 axles and 33-inch wheels wrapped around model specific 17-inch alloys.
Compared to their respective siblings, the Mojave X and Rubicon X receive the full-time Command-Trac and Rock-Trac systems, a forward facing camera and steel bumpers.
Regardless of the trim level selected, all Gladiators benefit from revised front and rear suspension control arms and retuned shock absorbers, while retaining the following breakover, departure and approach angle ratings; 20.9-degrees, 26-degrees and 44.7-degrees.
No diesel or EV, just petrol
Up front, Jeep has reduced the Gladiator’s engine count to one by removing the 3.0 EcoDiesel V6 entirely as a result of its focus on electrification.
It, therefore, leaves the stalwart 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 petrol as the sole option with unchanged power and torque figures of 213kW/353Nm.
Standard across all grades is a six-speed manual gearbox with the option being an eight-speed automatic.
Unlike the Wrangler, and despite its move towards becoming a complete EV marque before 2030, the plug-in hybrid 4xe remains a forbidden entity for the Gladiator, with the same applying the 6.4 Hemi V8 that powers the Wrangler Rubicon 392.
Approval being awaited
Set to have its production once again take place at the Toledo Plant in Ohio alongside the Wrangler, the Gladiator remains unconfirmed for South Africa, but should an announcement be made, expect it to become available in early 2024.