For 70 plus years, Jeep have known a thing or two about off-road adventure. Oh, and believe it or not, pickup trucks. The first of these was the 1947 Jeep 4X4, and the last offering was the Cherokee based Comanche, which was discontinued in 1992. Now, the pick-up Jeep is back, and available in New Zealand.
Called the Gladiator, it steps into the arena of our ever popular mid-sized ute segment.
Styling wise, the Gladiator is certainly not subtle, carrying the rough and ready fascia of all lifestyle Jeeps.
From the B-pillar forward is carried over from the Wrangler, the rear deck is bespoke, and means the Gladiator is 780mm longer than its sibling.
The deck itself can haul around 620kg of whatever with ease and get this, you can even drive with the doors removed, and the windscreen folded down.
The Gladiator is available in two spec levels, the Overland at $89,990 and the Rubicon at $92,990.
Under the bonnet sits Chrysler’s 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine producing 206kW and 327Nm married to an eight-speed ZF automatic.
The Rubicon also manages 12.4L/100km, and Overland 11.2L, which is adequate for a big truck like this, and so is its 2.7 tonnes towing capacity.
My Gladiator was the Rubicon, which came with Jeep’s Rock-Trac Active On-Demand 4X4 system with four stage low and high range set up with Tru-Lok locking differentials, and Off Road Plus, which allows the driver to select from multiple options to suit whatever terrain they are devouring.
Inside, Jeep’s fourth generation Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes a welcome appearance.
The Gladiator also gets a tonne of safety gizmos – like blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, electronic roll mitigation, and speed collision warning plus.
On the move, the Gladiator is surprisingly supple on the smooth tarmac of inner-city Christchurch, though it’s not a slick as some of its more conventional ute rivals. However, off road is another story.
With those diffs locked in place, the Gladiator Rubicon is a revelation off the beaten track. Despite its girth, it doesn’t muck around about mucking in.
The Pentastar V6 provides plenty of low-down torque and thanks to 286mm of ground clearance, its ability to crawl along rocks and other large obstacles is staggering.
Despite being a tad pricey, the Jeep Gladiator takes the ute segment and gives it extra bad-ass cred. Adrenaline fuelled adventure junkies take note, this one is a good‘un.