The Gladiator is the truck for those who love Jeep styling but need the extra utility provided by a pickup bed. It wears an iconic Wrangler-derived design and carries over into 2022 with minor updates across the entire model line. What it lacks in on-road manners it arguably makes up with sheer off-road capability. The Gladiator competes with other midsize trucks including the Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, and Ford Ranger.
When Jeep is life but a pickup bed is a necessity, the Gladiator is a no brainer. However, in comparison to other midsize trucks on sale right now, it's not our first choice.
The primary advantage to buying a Gladiator is not just the Wrangler-esque looks, it's the off-road capability. 4WD is standard equipment and we found that the Gladiator can do just about anything its sibling can (especially in the Mojave trim), from trail running to rock crawling.
Just as we've criticized the Wrangler for its on-road shortcomings, the Gladiator's drivability on paved surfaces leaves a lot to be desired. We've noticed lots of body roll in our testing and found that frequent steering corrections were needed to keep the pickup traveling in a straight line. The Gladiator's suspension tuning could also be improved; the truck bounces and shudders over less-than-perfect surfaces. Interior ergonomics are also compromised; the seating can get uncomfortable on longer drives.
The Gladiator has other shortcomings that its pickup truck rivals don't. Towing is one of its greatest weaknesses; we found it to be a scary and almost dangerous experience during our testing, even with the diesel model. Additionally, a five-foot bed is the only size available, whereas most of the competition offers a choice of at least two box sizes.
Despite all these negatives, buyers who want a Jeep pickup may be able to look beyond these criticisms. The Gladiator offers distinctive styling and superb off-road capability, not to mention an out-of-the-box cool factor unique in its segment.
Jeep equips every Gladiator with 4WD. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and an eight-speed automatic is available. The standard engine is a 3.6-liter V-6 developing 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The EPA rates this engine at 16/23 mpg city/highway when paired with a manual transmission and 17/22 mpg when the Gladiator is equipped with an automatic.
Jeep also offers the Gladiator with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 producing 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. This engine can only be paired with the eight-speed automatic transmission and returns an EPA-rated 22/28 mpg unless equipped at the Rubicon trim level, which brings the fuel economy down to 21/27 mpg. Looking for the 392 V-8? For now, that special trim is only available on the Wrangler.
In our testing, the base Gladiator Sport equipped with the gasoline V-6 and manual accomplished the run from 0-60 mph in 7.9 seconds. Both a Gladiator Rubicon and a Mojave equipped with the 3.6-liter V-6 paired with the eight-speed automatic only managed to complete the same test in 8.6 seconds. The diesel variant of the Gladiator Sport fared better; hitting 60 mph from a standstill in 7.9 seconds.
The NHTSA rates the 2022 Gladiator's frontal crash performance at four stars and rollover at three stars (out of a possible five stars), matching the Chevrolet Colorado. Jeep offers the Gladiator with available driver-assistance technology forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control.
Overall, the Jeep Gladiator is more spacious than the Ford Ranger, one of its closest rivals. The Blue Oval's midsize truck only beats the Gladiator in front-row legroom.
Legroom (first/second rows):
2022 Gladiator: 41.2/38.3 inches
2022 Ranger: 43.1/34.5 inches
Headroom (first/second rows):
2022 Gladiator: 42.8/42.8 inches
2022 Ranger: 39.8/38.3 inches
The Gladiator is only available with one bed size. The box is 60.3 inches long, 44.8 inches wide at the wheel wells, 56.8 inches wide above the wheel wells, and about 18.0 inches deep. Lift-over height is 29.7 inches. Jeep also offers a bed extender.
If towing is a priority, you'll find that the highest-capability Gladiator is the Sport or Sport S trim equipped with the gasoline V-6, automatic transmission, and Max Tow package. In that configuration, the 2022 Gladiator can haul up to 7,650 pounds. Rubicon models can tow up to 7,000 pounds while the Gladiator Mojave and Overland can tow up to 6,000 pounds.
Maximum payload rating for the Gladiator is 1,700 pounds when equipped at the Sport or Sport S trim level with the gasoline V-6 and manual transmission. Opt for the Overland, Mojave, or Rubicon versions of the Gladiator and the maximum payload drops between 1,120 and 1,200 pounds. The lowest payload rating for the Gladiator is 1,105 pounds when equipped at the Sport or Sport S trim level with the gasoline V-6 and automatic transmission.
The Gladiator Sport model comes equipped with a 7.0-inch display and 9-speaker setup while Overland, Rubicon, Mojave trims all receive an 8.4-inch display. Jeep pairs this larger touchscreen with a premium 9-speaker Alpine sound system and on-board navigation. Standard keyless entry is also new for Overland, Rubicon, and Mojave trims for the 2022 model year. Jeep includes two standard USB ports on every Gladiator and offers two available second-row USB ports as well.
The Gladiator Mojave is the best version of Jeep's pickup truck. It's on the same level as the rock-crawling oriented Rubicon but the Mojave's gear is better suited for tearing down trails at speed. Jeep upgrades this version of the Gladiator with 2.5-inch-diameter internal bypass Fox Shox with remote reservoirs. Other improvements include hydraulic bump stops for the front suspension, a wider front truck, a manually lockable rear axle, a brake-based torque-vectoring front axle, and Falken Wildpeak A/T3W tires. Although the Mojave is only available with the 3.6-liter V-6 engine and a choice of a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, it's our first choice of Gladiator because it has nearly the same rock-crawling abilities as the Rubicon but the upgrades to its suspension allow it to get where it's going that much faster.
A number of fun details are hidden within the Gladiator's exterior and interior trim. A Willys MB silhouette can be found on the wheels and on the right corner of the windshield. There's also a graphic of a Willys on the digital display in the instrument cluster.
A number of other Easter Eggs have been stamped into the Gladiator's plastics. The number 419, representing the area code of the Toledo, Ohio plant where the Gladiator is manufactured, can be found on the top left side of the truck bed. There's also a tiny pair of flip-flop sandals on the hood's plastic trim, a callout to Rick Pewe, a journalist and Jeep enthusiast who wrote for MotorTrend Group brands including Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road. Finally, Jeep says the Gladiator's three-spoke wheel is a callout to the original Willys models from the 1940s.
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