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With its smooth drivetrain, surprising on-road refinement, iconic style and undeniable off-road capability, the Jeep Gladiator is a truck that stands high and proud.

15 Oct 2020


Clambering out of the Jeep Gladiator and realising that the front wheels are barely within the white lines of the parking lot, it's hard to ignore a very simple reality about this vehicle - it's a big-ass truck.

A little more than a year ago, I drove the new Jeep Wrangler. While it's an SUV by name, it's a car that's fundamentally different from the majority of other SUVs on the road. On first glances, it's a little odd - the car jitters about on the highway, the cabin is unabashedly rugged and tough, and the car just feels slightly out of place in a typical Singapore carpark. But then, having spent some time with it, the Wrangler finally made sense. It's a car that fully embraces its unapologetic off-road character.

For buyers who want that experience, but demand even more, then this might just be it - the new Jeep Gladiator.

Looking grand

The Jeep Gladiator's iconic design lends it impressive road presence
There's no denying the iconic look of the Gladiator. Rugged, tough and instantly distinct, the Gladiator, much like its Wrangler sibling, cuts an immediately striking look on the road.

Inside, it's pretty much the same as what you'll find in the Wrangler (though there's more legroom at the rear). While there are a lot of plastics and hard materials used, all of it is entirely functional and practical, allowing you to hose down the whole car after a rumble through the mud. And, I must say that the level of quality feels high. While the materials are utilitarian and functional, they don't feel cheap in any way.

The bed is covered with a standard tonneau cover
However, the Gladiator is more than a Wrangler with a flat bed at the rear.

There are some notable differences. The Gladiator is a much longer vehicle, measuring in at a whopping 5,561mm long. Being a truck, it's also got a large bed accessible via a damped tailgate. The bed is covered by the standard tonneau cover, but you can also option a three-piece modular hardtop.

Time and place

The 3.6-litre engine pumps out a healthy 285bhp and 347Nm of torque
And, in Singapore at least, the Gladiator is classified as a commercial vehicle by LTA. This has a couple of implications - it uses a G-plate rather than an S-plate and thus requires a Cat C COE, and the vehicle has to meet certain LTA restrictions. 

At times, that can be frustrating. All commercial vehicles have to be fitted with a device that beeps when you exceed the restricted speed, and in the Gladiator, it's much too easy to do so. With 285bhp and 347Nm of torque from the 3.6-litre V6 engine, acceleration is brisk and smooth, and you very quickly find yourself crossing the 78km/h mark and the beeping begins.

Weird to have window controls on the centre console? On a vehicle that you can remove all the doors, not at all... 
It's doubly frustrating because the car is capable of much more. At 78km/h (the highest speed I could cruise without any beeping), the car was only in seventh gear (there are eight total gears). The trick, I found, is to use the cruise control function. After all, on highways you'll almost certainly be going slower than the car ahead of you. And, the Gladiator also comes with steel wheels instead of the cool Jeep alloys (again, LTA requirement). 

Beyond that, the Gladiator is mighty impressive to drive. It's surprisingly refined and comfortable on the trot. Power is effortless, and you really feel high and mighty on the road. The car also feels like squirmy than the Wrangler, and overall ride composure is good.

The Gladiator's immense size means that parking in a typical lot is going to leave a fair amount of the vehicle sticking out
And, while I never got to try the car's off-road capabilities, there is no doubt this is a 4x4 beast. It's a Jeep, after all. There are more off-road technologies in the Gladiator than I have apps on my iPhone.

Parking the thing is another matter. According to LTA's Code of Practice for Vehicle Parking Provision, the minimum length of a parallel parking lot is 5.4m. The Gladiator is longer than that. So, parallel parking this beast is almost certainly out of the question unless you can get a corner lot. And, you may want to think twice about parking in a small multistorey carpark, too, because at least a fifth of the car is going to be sticking out of the lot. So, you may have to be a tad selective of where you're driving your Gladiator to.

Passion pit

The Gladiator delivers impressive quality despite its rugged, commercial functionality
Driving this Gladiator is a complex experience. It delivers an authentic Jeep experience, with this off-roader more than capable of handling any task thrown at it. It'll carry your mountain bikes, kayaks, furniture, hell a whole mobile kitchen if you want. It is a truck, after all.

The new 2020 Gladiator is, according to Jeep, the most capable Jeep truck ever, and I don't for a second doubt that. It delivers capability that far exceeds anything else in its price category. And while it's certainly commercial in function, it never feels commercial (i.e. cheap) in terms of quality and usability. 

Unfortunately, the vehicle's full on-road capabilities are held back by arbitrary LTA restrictions
But more significantly, because it's classified as a commercial vehicle in Singapore, the Gladiator is inevitably always going to run into some arbitrary restrictions that have nothing to do with its inherent capabilities. The fact that you can't exceed a certain speed without incessant beeping is really rather annoying (this car could easily cruise at 100km/h, no problem).

Why would anyone buy a Gladiator, then? Well, some people just think pick-ups are cool, and for such people, the Gladiator holds tremendous appeal. It combines capability and utility with ample on-road usability and comfort.

While no doubt niche, the Gladiator delivers a truly unique experience 
And, for others, it's about style in function. The Gladiator, just like the Wrangler, captures a particular kind of experience and aesthetic that you'll struggle to find anywhere else on the market.

Yes, it's niche, but owning a car like this is about much more than just transportation. It's also a hobby, a passion, and a way of life. Put simply, it's fun, and it's different. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Car Information

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Jeep Gladiator 3.6 V6 Overland (A)
Rate it

Price

: $159,999

Engine Type

:

V6

Engine Cap

:

3604cc

Horsepower

:

213kW (285 bhp) / 6400 rpm

Torque

:

347 Nm / 4100 rpm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

-

Top Speed

:

-

Fuel consumption

:

9.3 km/L

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