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Driven: Jeep Gladiator touches down in Aus

Jeep to chase slice of top-end 4x4 pick-up market with unique Gladiator dual-cab

19 Jun 2020

JEEP’S one-of-a-kind Gladiator pick-up is the latest top-spec, lifestyle-oriented pick-up truck to touch down on Australian shores, with the brand’s local arm not chasing the potential sales volume that usually comes with the arrival of an all-new ute.

 

The American brand will instead aim for smaller volume at the top of the segment to poach sales from the likes of the Ford Ranger Raptor, HSV Colorado SportsCat and Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior.

 

No variants will be released to cater for tradespeople and fleets, with the brand’s unique selling proposition making it a poor fit for a cheaper tradie-focused vehicle according Jeep Australia director of brand and product strategy Guillaume Drelon.

 

“I don’t think we want to play into the ute markets, the product has not been designed for it, and we don’t want to be positioned exactly like this. And we are not intending to come and sell 15,000 cars in that market, because we know we have a product that is unique and specific and with a purpose,” he said.

 

“We don’t want to be a work ute; we would be playing against the lifestyle pick-ups you have in the market. 

 

“So it will be a Raptor kind of product, SportsCat kind of product, so those vehicles which are more performance-oriented, more lifestyle-oriented.”

 

Two highly specified, full-time Gladiator grades are offered by Jeep at launch, the lifestyle-oriented Overland from $75,450 plus on-roads and the Rubicon off-road monster, which commands a $1000 premium.

 

A more affordable Sport-S grade will arrive before the end of the year sitting about $10,000 below the Overland, while a limited-run Launch Edition – based on the Rubicon and limited to 100 units – will cost $86,450.

 

This places it roughly in the same territory as the Ranger Raptor ($77,190), Colorado SportsCat SV ($68,990), Navara N-Trek Warrior ($65,990) and Toyota HiLux Rugged X ($64,490).

 

All Gladiator grades are powered by the same 3.6-litre Pentastar petrol V6 engine found in the Wrangler, tuned to produce 209kW/347Nm while driving all four wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.

 

Jeep Australia said it was limited to only one powertrain choice for the Gladiator due to the costs of engineering for right-hand drive, and opted for the petrol over other diesel options, including the 147kW/450Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder unit from the Wrangler.

 

Mr Drelon said the V6 was the best fit for the vehicle.

 

“Within our powertrain portfolio you need a strong engine with a fairly good displacement as well as power and torque, and the V6 3.6 was the best one to fit the brief,” he said.

 

“We are very well aware that this segment is very ‘diesel-ised’, but what we need to consider is we are not willing to play in that ute market, we bring a product which is a pure lifestyle off-roader.”

 

He also noted that 90 per cent of overall Wrangler sales comprised of the petrol engine.

 

Official combined fuel consumption for the V6 is rated at 11.2 litres per 100km for the Overland, up to 12.4L/100km in the Rubicon, while CO2 emissions are rated at 260 and 288 grams per kilometre respectively.

 

The Gladiator also features heavy-duty cooling for the engine, to help it cope with extreme loads and harsh driving conditions.

 

All versions come with a full-time low-range transfer case, with the Overland equipped with Jeep’s Selec-Trac on-demand 4x4 system, while the Rubicon and Launch Edition take things further with the Rock-Trac system, complete with front and rear locking differentials.

 

The Gladiator rides on an altered and stretched version of the Wrangler’s steel ladder-frame chassis, which gives it an imposing total length of 5591mm, along with a 1894mm width, 1905mm height and 3488mm wheelbase.

 

The sizeable rear tub (no steel or aluminium tray is available) measures 1531mm x 1442mm with a height of 445mm – making it one of the largest in its segment – with a full-size spare tyre underneath.

 

Like the Wrangler, the Gladiator features solid axles at the front and rear with coil suspension all round, with the rear five-link suspension derived from the Ram 1500.

 

Payload is rated at 620kg, while maximum braked towing capacity struggles to match its mid-size pick-up rivals at 2721kg.

 

Like the Wrangler, the Gladiator is available with a removable hard-top or soft-top option, unsurprisingly making it the only convertible pick-up truck available for purchase, while the doors can be removed and the front windshield folded down.

 

Inside the cabin, the Gladiator features an 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav and smartphone integration, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster display, a nine-speaker Alpine premium audio system, a water-resistant detachable Bluetooth speaker and lockable rear underseat storage.

 

Standard safety kit across the range includes adaptive cruise control with stop function, forward collision warning plus, blind spot monitor with rear cross-path detection, tyre pressure monitoring, four-wheel disc brakes, front and rear parking sensors (not compatible with a steel front bumper), reversing camera and four airbags.

 

Equipment exclusive to the Overland includes McKinley leather seats with Overland logo, heated front seats and steering wheel, removable body-colour hard-top roof, body-colour fender flares and 18-inch alloy wheels.

 

The Rubicon steps up the off-road equipment with front sway bar disconnect, 2.0-inch Fox aluminium shocks front and rear, forward-facing off-road trail camera with lens cleaner, 32-inch BF Goodrich off-road tyres, 17-inch alloy wheels, rock rails, skid plates and tow hooks.

 

Building on the spec of the Rubicon, the Launch Edition adds a steel front bumper, body-coloured fender flares and three-piece hard-top, black leather seat trim, leather-wrapped shift knob and parking brake, heated front seat and wheel, cargo management group with trail rail system, roll-up tonneau cover, spray-in bedliner, auxiliary switch bank and 240-amp alternator.

 

A raft of accessories, both individual and as packages, will be available through Jeep’s Mopar accessories range, with 74 different accessories available to Australian customers.

 

Black or white paint comes as standard, with seven other hues available as options.

 

The Gladiator comes with a five-year new-car warranty, and is covered under the brand’s capped price servicing program which costs $399 per service for the first five services.

 

2020 Jeep Gladiator pricing*

Overland (a) $75,450
Rubicon (a) $76,450
Launch Edition (a) $86,450

*Excludes on-road costs


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