Looking Great

Smooth Operator

Is it a convertible or a pickup truck? The Jeep Gladiator is actually both. Plus, it’s more stylish than its rivals, with a smoother ride than its Wrangler cousin

It has been more than a quarter of a century since Jeep offered a pickup truck (the Comanche was retired in 1992), so fans of the automaker were eager for the rollout of the 2020 Gladiator.

They weren’t disappointed. More than just a Wrangler with a bed, the Gladiator is different from any other compact truck in its class. For starters, you can remove the vehicle’s top and doors (the windshield even folds down!). No other truck offers a similar, convertible-like driving experience. And while the Gladiator rivals other members of its class in towing capacity, its off-roading functionality has been rated far better than many competitors’.

And it doesn’t lack style. It’s got the heritage-rich, rugged attitude of its Wrangler cousin. Check out the cockpit, which harks back to Jeeps of yesteryear with an instrument panel that was inspired by models going back to 1941. The bold red upright dashboard commands attention as soon as you get in. A 7-inch infotainment screen with USB port comes standard, and from there, you can upgrade to an 8.4-inch screen and other select features.

The Gladiator has two rows of comfortable, adult-friendly seating. One fun feature: The rear seats can be locked in place for additional storage behind the seat backs. The seats can also be folded flat to provide a load floor for larger items. When the seats are folded flat, LED lights on the quarter-trim panels illuminate the storage space behind the seats. Need more security? Mesh pockets extend the entire length of the doors, making it easy to keep cell phones or smaller items safe when you’re driving through rugged terrain.

And although it’s every ounce as stylish as the Wrangler, word on the street is that the Gladiator rides better than its smaller cousin, thanks to a 19-inch wheelbase. It offers a less bumpy ride and is free of the typical shake that some pickups are notorious for. The Gladiator has solid axles in both the front and rear, resulting in a smooth ride. The standard 5-foot bed is ideal for escapes with off-road toys, like ATVs. The 285-horsepower V6 and the 8-speed automatic transmission make the Gladiator a true powerhouse.

And off-roading enthusiasts won’t be disappointed: All Gladiator models are Trail Rated, with a badge indicating that the vehicle is designed to perform in a variety of challenging off-road conditions. Adding to the appeal is a multitude of technology and safety features like Apple CarPlay, Blind-Spot Monitoring and Forward Collision Warning Plus.

Whether you’re hauling groceries or doing some serious off-roading, the Gladiator makes a smooth, stylish statement.