JEEP is pitching its freshly revealed Gladiator at the higher end of the growing mid-size pick-up segment, but the company says it is not competing with models like the Ford Ranger Raptor.
The dual-cab pick-up made its debut at this week’s Los Angeles motor show and is scheduled to hit Australian showrooms sometime in 2020.
Jeep vehicle line executive John Mrozowski told GoAuto that the Gladiator would not compete with entry-level models given its extensive list of standard off-road features.
“I can’t get into pricing but we do not see this as a low-end type of a vehicle,” he said on the Jeep stand. “With all the utility that it has and all of the things that it can do, we see this going after the higher end and really different buyers.
“People that always wanted to buy a pick-up but there was always some excuse, something holding them back. Now they’ve got this, there is no more excuses.”
Mr Mrozowski said the Gladiator was not a direct rival for Ford’s high-performance 157kW/500Nm 2.0-litre biturbo-diesel Ranger Raptor.
“I mean Ranger Raptor is very focused from a high-speed off-road perspective, delivering on that. This, not so much. Not the speed and capability of high-speeding off-road. It’s a little bit of a different customer.”
As reported, the Gladiator will initially be offered with FCA’s 212kW/352Nm 3.6-litre Pentastar petrol V6, which will be followed by a 194kW/600Nm 3.0-litre V6 diesel.
When asked if Jeep was considering a high-performing version of the Gladiator, Mr Mrozowski was non-committal but said the company was always looking at ways to grow.
“We think that there is a lot of room to grow and stretch our Jeep brand. So there is always a possibility.
“We are always talking to our customers and we are always thinking. We are always looking at what the competition is doing – What can we do better? How can we really stretch the brand? Because we think this brand has a lot of breath to it.”
Mr Mrozowski would not be drawn on whether the Gladiator would follow the Wrangler donor car in eventually being offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
“We want to make sure, from an electrification perspective, that we are doing it on the right vehicle, at the right time and for the right customers. And not ever compromising what the base vehicle is.
“From an iconic-vehicle-in-a-brand perspective, the Wrangler really is the nucleus of the Jeep brand and we’ve just got to be really careful that if we are going to do something, we are doing it right and doing it for the right reasons.”
Jeep investigated the viability of offering the Gladiator in a single-cab body style, but Mr Mrozowski said it would not work in the US market.
“That was something that we did talk about initially. But we really wanted to go at the heart of the market, which is the quad-cab with the five-foot box on the back. That is the heart of the market and that is the segment that is really growing the most.
“In NAFTA, you see a lot of single cabs and eight-foot boxes. The volume is really dropping and it is all being funnelled into (the) mid- or full-size segment because of quad cab. There’s more utility in the back (of the cabin), you can put your family in there if you want.”
In the US the mid-size pick-up segment includes the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma and, as of next year, the Ford Ranger.
In Australia, the segment is led by the Toyota HiLux, with other major players including the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Holden Colorado, Nissan Navara, Mazda BT-50 and Isuzu D-Max.
Mr Mrozowski said the Gladiator would not outsell the Wrangler, and added that he did not expect it to eat into sales of the model it is based on.
“We really think it will compliment it. It is an extension of what the Wrangler can do, but we really wanted to focus on pick-up capability.
“We don’t see much if any cannibalisation on the base vehicle line because it is different and we see the customer as being something very different too.”