Why Gladiator is More Than Just a Wrangler Pickup

It’s understandable why people tend to associate the Jeep Gladiator pickup truck with the Jeep Wrangler SUV. After all, from the outside the Jeep Gladiator looks a lot more like a Jeep Wrangler than it does any other more traditional pickup truck on the market.

Despite having some design cues and performance features in common, it’s a misconception to think the Gladiator is basically a Wrangler with a pickup bed attached. Looking at it this way actually undersells the uniqueness of both the Gladiator and the Wrangler.

When you’re considering which vehicle is the right fit for you, you’ll want to have all the facts about how each one performs. Here’s more on what sets the Jeep Gladiator apart from the Jeep Wrangler.

Jeep Gladiator & Jeep Wrangler: Key Similarities

As we mentioned earlier, both the Gladiator and Wrangler models can be Trail Rated. Hardcore rock-crawling enthusiasts may still want to opt for the nimble Wrangler, but the Gladiator Rubicon can certainly hold its own on challenging terrain as well.

Both vehicles have hard- and soft-top variations and allow the windshield to fold down and doors to come off — letting drivers really feel the wind on their faces as they cruise. There’s also a near-identical amount of space for passengers inside.

In terms of MSRP, the Gladiator and the Wrangler really fall in the same ballpark. With more than 10 trim levels to choose between for each vehicle, the price can vary. The 2021 Gladiator starts at $34,385 and the 2021 Wrangler at $32,570.

Jeep Gladiator vs. Jeep Wrangler: Key Differences

It’s not that the Gladiator or the Wrangler is better; it’s that they possess a few key differences that make them better suited to certain types of drivers.

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As one Cars.com writer notes, right out of the gate some important distinctions include:

  • The Gladiator’s wheelbase is longer
  • The Gladiator is reinforced, meaning it can tow more weight
  • The rear suspension is more akin to a full-size Ram than a Wrangler
  • The front slats are wider in the Gladiator to help the engine cool down

How much can the Jeep Gladiator tow? More than 7,600 pounds when fully equipped, but the lowest possible capacity on any trim level is still a respectable 4,000. The Wrangler, by comparison, can typically only handle up to 3,500 pounds. So, drivers who plan on hauling hefty equipment may find the Gladiator better able to accommodate their needs.

Gladiators and Wranglers may come standard with the same 3.6L V6 engine — but the choices diverge from there. Drivers of the Gladiator or Wrangler may opt for the available 3.0L V6 diesel engine if they wish — but Wrangler drivers have two more options available: a 3.6L V6 eTorque hybrid or a 2.0L I4 turbo. It’s worth noting the Wrangler, since it is lighter in weight, tends to get higher gas mileage than the Gladiator — a trade-off for the features that make the Gladiator more adept at hauling and towing.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is also the most obvious: the presence of the five-foot cargo bed on the Gladiator. Outdoor enthusiasts can also opt for the addition of a 115-volt power outlet in the truck bed to provide juice to their essential devices while away from home.

Jeep Gladiator vs. Jeep Wrangler: Takeaways

Are you leaning toward either the Gladiator or the Wrangler after learning more about their similarities and differences? Which Jeep is “yours” depends on your priorities in terms of on-road and off-road performance. At least now you know the Gladiator is more than just a Wrangler with a bed!

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About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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