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LA show: Jeep Gladiator’s design challenges

Load up: Jeep's engineers had to ensure that the Gladiator was capable off road, but that it could also haul a load.

Jeep designers and engineers overcome hurdles to produce Gladiator pick-up

Jeep logo4 Dec 2018

JEEP’S all-new Gladiator looks set to be one of the most capable off-roaders in the mid-size pick-up segment, but some executives say that the development of its latest offering was not without its challenges.
 
The Wrangler-based dual-cab pick-up was uncovered at last week’s Los Angeles motor show, after years of speculation, and it is set to hit Australian showrooms in early 2020.
 
Speaking with GoAuto at the LA show, Jeep head of design Mark Allen described the design process of spinning the Gladiator off the Wrangler base car as “not super complicated, but not without its challenges”. 
 
“Starting with the base Wrangler, the front wheels so far forward on it,” he said. “That’s how we get a really terrific approach angle. But then that makes the wheelbase really long. The rear wheel on this (Gladiator), it’s almost hydraulic. 
 
“The front seat to the rear seat is the same as on a Wrangler four-door. But at that point, I can’t get the rear tyre any farther forward than where it’s at. So, I have got seats, rear tyre, spare tyre, hitch, that cannot be a millimetre shorter than it is.”
 
Mr Allen said the designers worked hard to make the five-foot box not look as long as it is.
 
“The challenge for me was when we first just added the box on there, it looked really unbalanced. When we first put it together it looked really long, we have tried to disguise that.
 
“The other thing I strived for on this – I am not a fan of taking the box higher and higher and higher. I am five foot 11 (inches), I can reach in and put my hand flat on the floor. You can’t do that with most trucks, especially full-size trucks because of the cargo box. 
 
“The other benefit of that is the top of the tailgate is really low for seeing out the back. Rear visibility is great for seeing off road.
 
“Other than that, it kind of fell into place. Because from here (back seat) forward, we launched that car (Wrangler).”
 
Jeep vehicle line executive John Mrozowski reiterated some of the challenges with stretching the Wrangler base car and added that Jeep had to include certain off-road features for the Gladiator.
 
“The thing that we really struggled with was when we lengthened the wheelbase on this,” he said. “The breakover angle and also the departure angle in the back – we have a full-size underslung spare. If you are a Jeeper and an off-roader, you’ve got to have it. That’s a must.”
 
Mr Mrozowski said that significant testing was conducted on the Rubicon trail before the engineers were satisfied it was worthy of the Rubicon moniker. 
 
“This one on the Rubicon trail, and it passed with flying colours” he said. “And if it didn’t, there were things that we came back and we did like the rock rail on the back. We re-did that probably five different times. 
 
“We would take it out, we would test it and it wouldn’t pass. So, we would do a new design and new iteration. We would take it out, test it, it didn’t pass. Another iteration.
 
“It’s got to be authentic, it’s got to be capable, and it’s got to be credible. Credible from a pick-up perspective: making sure that we do deliver on payload and towing.”
 
As reported, the Gladiator comes with a 3.5-tonne towing capacity and 725kg payload limit.

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