The Jeep Gladiator mixes the best of both worlds, giving Wrangler owners what they wanted—the thrills of a heavy-duty off-road SUV with the practicality of a pickup truck bed in the back. That’s not all. The mid-size Gladiator, like the Wrangler it’s based on, has a removable roof and doors for a rare open-air experience and arrives with a massive 7,700-pound towing capacity, 1000 pounds up on its previous Jeeps.
Its hardcore handling and ride settings, or should we say its less refined road manners, make this Jeep more suitable for trail and rock-hopping coverage in contrast to more traditional pickups like the Chevy Colorado or Honda Ridgeline. As you’d expect, every Gladiator comes with a four-door cab, a 5.0-foot bed, and a well-sorted four-wheel-drive system is optional.
The Jeep is available with two engine options: a 3.6-liter gasoline V6 and a 3.0-liter diesel V6. The V6 engine produces 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, while the diesel engine produces 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with either a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic transmission. In fact, this Jeep is only one of two pickups that offer a manual transmission. The other is the Toyota Tacoma. As far as economy is concerned, the standard V6 delivers 23mpg on the highway while the diesel elevates that to 28 highway, making it only just competitive with rivals, while its 7.2 second sprint to 60 mph is marginally slower than the opposition.
The entry-level ‘Sport’ trim starts at $38,990 with the flagship High Altitude model hovering around $55,000.
Even though the Gladiator went on sale in 2019, the truck does get a slight modification for 2023. A $3295 limited-edition Freedom package on Sport S trims brings a military-themed exterior to honor US servicemen and women—giving the trucks a special steel front bumper and rock sliders. Meanwhile, mid-tier Willys models, priced at around $48,000, incorporate more standard features, such as keyless entry and remote start. is available in two- or four-wheel drive. The four-wheel-drive system can be engaged manually or automatically.
For our ideal Gladiator, we’d start with the $44,000 Sport S trim, add all-terrain tires, a 3-piece hard top allowing you to quickly open the roof, as well as side steps to make getting in and out easier.
Inside the cabin, it’s well-appointed, functional, and macho, even if the rear seat is a little cramped. We’d recommend options like a headliner for better noise and temperature insulation and upgrade to the larger 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen, as it adds navigation, get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and is more advanced than the stock 5.0-inch version.
When compared to rivals, this Jeep is not as comfortable on roads as say the Colorado and its steering may not be as precise as the Honda’s, but it certainly performs admirably off-road on any terrain you throw it at.
The Gladiator is one of the most capable off-road vehicles on the market, even if it may not be one of the most comfortable. As a rare ‘open-air’ truck that allows drivers to remove doors and the top, it features a heavy-duty four-wheel-drive system, high ground clearance, a strong engine lineup, and a long list of off-road-specific features, such as locking front and rear differentials, a disconnecting sway bar, and skid plates. However, it’s not without its flaws, such as its limited rear passenger space and poor fuel economy. But starting at just under $39,000, the Gladiator has a lot to offer those who enjoy open-air ruggedness with a go-anywhere attitude.