Could this be it—The one. The only. Jeep pickup. And finally named?!
Did the automaker really, truly—and “inadvertently”—leak photos of such a hotly-anticipated vehicle? You may remember that, just last week, media outlets reported how FCA “accidentally” released the new Gladiator name on its media site, only to realize its “mistake” and hastily pull it down. But not before an enthusiast site, Jeep Gladiator Forum (formerly known as the Jeep Scrambler Forum up to that point), scooped up some screenshots and shared them with a hungry fan base.
Now, Jeep Gladiator Forum reports that FCA has, once again, let the cat out of the bag. Although, this time it’s in the form of stunning press photos and a detailed list of specs and features. So, is this a calculated PR move or an honest (but fortuitous) mistake?
We say, who cares?! The buzz certainly isn’t hurting fan anticipation. Truthfully, dropping the name and then the photos—all just two weeks before the big LA Auto Show reveal—feels like an adult-themed Advent calendar filled with Jeep treats. And we are just itching to see what’s next. In the meantime, let’s unpack the sweet little morsels we’ve just been gifted.
Here’s What We Know
This is Jeep’s first pickup truck in nearly 30 years.
Jeep is not new to the truck game and, in fact, neither is the Gladiator name. From the 1947 Willys-Overland Jeep 4×4 truck to the phased-out Chrysler Jeep Comanche nearly 40 years later, Jeep has produced six different pickup models to date. The original Jeep Gladiator was introduced in 1962 and was a full-size model based on the Wagoneer platform. In 1971 it lost its name in favor of the less dramatic “J-series” moniker, but stayed in production well into the 1980s. The automaker also had short runs of the Jeepster Commando from ’66-’73 and the quirky Scrambler from ’81-’86.
Indeed, Jeep actually planted this seed over a decade ago when they introduced the Jeep Gladiator concept vehicle at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show. And as this week’s news demonstrates, much like a true Roman warrior, Jeep waited patiently for the right time to strike. With the mid-size truck segment exploding and the excitement for all-things-Jeep at a fever pitch, it’s safe to say the automaker will, without the shadow of a doubt, hit the mark.
The Jeep Gladiator will marry authentic off-road capabilities and truck functionality.
Clearly based on the JL Wrangler, the Jeep Gladiator sports nearly identical front-end styling. Such design ensures that it’s constantly recognizable as a Jeep, allowing it to both blend in with the iconic badge offerings, yet also stand out in a growing market of mid-size pickups.
According to the leaked specs, the crew cab configuration features a “durable five-foot steel bed with covered external power source and strong integrated tie-downs, providing versatility for flexible cargo options.” The new Jeep Gladiator will also borrow the innovative fold-down windshield from its JL cousin, as well as three roof options: one softtop and two hardtops. We assume one will be Jeep’s Sky One-Touch Power Top, also borrowed from the JL. The press release boasts that the new Gladiator will be “the only true open-air 4×4 pickup truck.” (Color us EXCITED)
Additionally, leaked materials show that off-road integrity will be preserved with what looks like a Gladiator Rubicon trim. As our friends at FourWheeler point out: “[It will feature] Jeep’s rugged Rock-Trac 4×4 system, along with Tru-Lock front and rear axle lockers and a segment-exclusive sway-bar disconnect. Setting aside the truck’s less favorable breakover angle, the Gladiator Rubicon should be every bit the equal to the smaller Wrangler Rubicon when it comes to tackling off-road trails—that is to say, very good.”
Jeep promises “unmatched crawl ratios” and up to 30 inches of water fording to boot.
The new Jeep Gladiator will also build upon the automaker’s “rich truck heritage” with best-in-class towing and payload—up to 7,650 pounds and 1,600 pounds respectively. Making that possible is the beloved 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine under the hood, which currently pumps out 285-hp and 260 lb-ft of torque in the JL. Also promised is the arrival of a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 with Engine Stop-Start and an eight-speed automatic available later in 2020.
There will be aftermarket toys galore.
You know we really love our bed protection here at the Engine Block, as we visit the topic quite frequently. And if the 2018 SEMA Show was any indication, the segment shows no signs of slowing down. With quite possibly the most configurable vehicle on the market gaining a truck bed, well, just imagine all the doors soon to open!
Cargo management and storage solutions, in-bed tents and air mattresses, bedliners and TONNEAU COVERS—these aftermarket favorites (and many, many more) are all about to explode for the new Jeep Gladiator, and the possibilities have us happier than a boozehound in a river of whiskey.
What Fans Have to Say
It’s hard to imagine that FCA’s media team is just bumbling around, accidentally posting Gladiator details like a well-intentioned Mr. Magoo. More likely, they’ve taken a cue from the Kim Kardashian PR-playbook and are leaking materials with careful calculation.
Either way, we’re on board. And it seems like we’re not the only ones…
Fanfare from JeepGladiatorForum.com:
“Totally unique from every other midsize pickup.”
“No 6-speed for the 3.0? Bummer! Oh well, I still wanna put one of these in my driveway.”
“Nice to finally see it. But it looks like more waiting since no Diesel at launch. Hope I can deal with my JK that long.”
“I want it now though…”
“Bummed about no EcoDiesel at launch, guess I’ll have more time to save for a down payment. And more time for the aftermarket to build goodies!”
“This truck is every bit as cool looking as I’d hoped. Time to start saving!”
Whaddya think? Chime in below.