Jeep Gladiator Ultimate mastery Guide

jeep gladiator ultimate mastery guide

The Jeep Gladiator is Jeep’s long-awaited pickup truck model, making its return to the Jeep lineup in 2020 after a nearly 30 year hiatus. Based on the Jeep Wrangler SUV, the Gladiator combines the off-road capability and open-air freedom of the Wrangler with the versatility and utility of a midsize pickup truck.

Some key facts about the Gladiator:

  • Segment: Midsize pickup truck
  • Base prices: $33,545 – $43,875
  • Available trims: Sport, Sport S, Overland, Rubicon
  • Powertrains: 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Four-wheel drive systems: Command-Trac and Rock-Trac 4×4
  • Maximum payload: 1,600 lbs
  • Maximum towing capacity: 7,650 lbs

The Gladiator aims to be the most off-road capable midsize pickup thanks to its body-on-frame construction and solid front and rear axles. With removable doors and roof panels, it also retains the open-air fun of the Wrangler. Overall, it’s designed to be an adventure-ready truck for those who want to explore the great outdoors.

Key Features and Capabilities

Rugged Off-Road Performance

As a Jeep, the Gladiator is engineered for serious off-roading. It features up to 11.1 inches of ground clearance, FOX shocks, heavy-duty Dana 44 axles, and available front and rear locking differentials. The Rubicon model comes equipped with 33-inch mud terrain tires, electronically disconnecting front sway bar, rock rails, and a 4:1 low-range gear ratio. This means the Gladiator can traverse steep hills, large rocks, and deep sand or mud without issue.

Removable Roof and Doors

Just like the Wrangler, the Gladiator has a removable soft top or optional hardtop roof to allow open-air driving. Doors can also be removed for the ultimate outdoor experience. The folding windshield allows another level of freedom too. You can easily open up the Gladiator to enjoy nice weather off-road or while cruising around town.

Truck Bed and Cargo Capacity

The Gladiator has a 5-foot steel truck bed that provides versatile cargo hauling abilities. It features strong integrated tie-downs, under-bed storage, and accessory power in the bed. There’s also optional lockable storage bins and a truck bed liner available. Maximum payload capacity ranges from 1,105 lbs on the Sport to 1,600 lbs on the Overland. The towing capacity is an impressive 7,650 lbs when properly equipped, giving the Gladiator solid truck capabilities.

Advanced Technology Features

Today’s buyers expect their vehicles to have modern tech and connectivity features. The Gladiator offers a range of technology options to enhance the driving experience. Key features include a 7- or 8.4-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice recognition, Bluetooth, and smartphone integration. Upgrades like a premium Alpine sound system, GPS navigation, and a forward-facing trailcam camera for off-roading are also available.

Safety and Driver Assistance

While built for adventure, the Gladiator also prioritizes safety. All models come equipped with stability control, traction control, emergency braking assist, and seven airbags. Available active safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, and rear parking sensors and camera to aid maneuvering this larger vehicle.

Trims and Packages

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is available in four trim levels, each offering a different combination of standard and optional equipment. Understanding the differences between trims and available packages can help buyers choose the ideal Gladiator configuration for their needs.


As the base Gladiator trim, the Sport comes decently equipped with:

  • 3.6L V6 engine with 6-speed manual transmission
  • 17-inch steel wheels
  • Removable soft top roof
  • 5-inch touchscreen display
  • Cloth seats
  • Locking glovebox
  • Trailer hitch receiver

The Sport is a good choice for budget-minded buyers looking for an affordable entry point into the Gladiator lineup. Optional upgrades include alloy wheels, 7-inch display, and dual-zone climate control.

Sport S

The Sport S adds several appealing features:

  • Body-color fender flares
  • Power windows and locks
  • Automatic headlights
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • 7-inch touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

This mid-level trim balances capability and comfort with its upgrades. Popular options like alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, and remote start make the Sport S even more enticing.


Moving up to the well-equipped Overland trim brings amenities like:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Automatic temperature control
  • Leather seats
  • Heated front seats and steering wheel
  • Upgraded Uconnect infotainment
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross path detection

The Overland is oriented toward more comfort and technology. Optional upgrades focus on utility like the cargo management system or safety like adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning.


The off-road-ready Rubicon is the most capable trim equipped with:

  • 33-inch mud terrain tires
  • Electronically locking front and rear differentials
  • Disconnecting front stabilizer bar
  • Rock rails and heavy-duty suspension
  • 4:1 low-range gear ratio
  • Steel bumpers with winch ready mounts

Buyers wanting max off-road performance will prefer the Rubicon. Optional upgrades include leather seats, LED lighting, and body color fender flares.

Popular Accessories and Customization

One of the best aspects of the Jeep Gladiator is the wide range of accessories and customization options available straight from the factory. With the proper upgrades, you can equip your Gladiator for specialized off-roading, cargo hauling, camping adventures, and other needs. Here are some of the most popular accessories buyers choose:

  • Lift kits raise ground clearance for larger tires
  • Skid plates – protect the underbody on rough terrain
  • Rock rails – prevent rock damage to the body sides
  • Wheels – wider off-road or all-terrain tires improve traction
  • Bedliners and bed mats – protect the truck bed from damage
  • Tonneau covers – add secure, weatherproof storage for the bed
  • Side steps – ease entry and exit, especially for taller vehicles
  • Roof racks and carriers – transport gear like bikes, kayaks, and cargo
  • Winches – enable self-recovery when stuck off-road
  • Suspension upgrades – improve articulation over challenging terrain

Between Mopar and the aftermarket, Jeep owners have endless possibilities to customize their Gladiator. Upgrading the suspension, wheels and tires typically provides the biggest improvements in off-road capability. Properly equipping your Gladiator allows you to take this tough truck into extreme environments.

Typical Ownership Costs

When considering the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, it’s important to understand the typical ownership costs beyond just the purchase price. Being a truck, the Gladiator does have somewhat higher costs to factor in than a comparable SUV or car. Here’s a look at the key ownership expenses:

Vehicle Price

Base MSRP ranges from $33,545 for a basic Sport to $43,875 for the off-road ready Rubicon. Well-optioned models easily exceed $50,000.

Fuel Costs

EPA estimates for the Gladiator are 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway/19 mpg combined. With a 22-gallon tank, expect to pay around $40-$55 to fill up. Yearly fuel costs will be higher than a comparable car at around $1,500-$2,000.

Insurance Costs

Midsize pickup insurance rates average $1,450 annually for full coverage according to data. The Gladiator may cost slightly more due to its high price when new.

Maintenance and Repairs

The first 3 years/36,000 miles are covered by Jeep’s factory warranty to ease initial ownership costs. After that, expert estimates for maintenance and repairs average $500 per year.


As a dedicated off-roader, the Gladiator will wear through tires more quickly depending on use. Plan to budget $150-200 per tire for replacement every 40,000-60,000 miles.


One of the joys of owning a Gladiator is customizing it to your needs which does require an additional investment. Allow a few thousand dollars for upgrades like leveling kits, bumpers, bedliners, etc.

Overall, prospective owners should budget approximately $7,000-$8,000 in yearly ownership costs for the Jeep Gladiator between the payment, insurance, fuel, maintenance, and other factors. This is similar to other midsize pickups like the Toyota Tacoma or Chevy Colorado.

Pros and Cons of the Jeep Gladiator


  • Impressive off-road capability right from the factory
  • Removable roof and doors for open-air freedom
  • Towing capacity sufficient for recreational towing needs
  • Truck bed provides versatile cargo hauling options
  • Extensive customization and accessory options
  • Modern tech andsafety features available
  • Retains classic Jeep Wrangler styling and design


  • Real-world fuel economy is only about 18-19 mpg
  • Ride quality is stiff; not ideal for highway comfort
  • Entry/exit can be difficult due to high ground clearance
  • Truck bed smaller than competing midsize pickups
  • Can be expensive with add-ons and premium packages
  • Basic interior materials and finishes on lower trims
  • Resale values very strong lessening affordability

The open-air spirit, off-road mastery, and adventurous image of the Gladiator are definitively compelling. Buyers just need to be okay with the fuel economy hit and expect a stiffer highway ride inherent in a traditional body-on-frame truck. The smaller bed and difficult access due to tall ride height are other considerations. Overall though, the Gladiator succeeds in blending rugged Jeep fun with pickup truck capability.

Is the Jeep Gladiator a Good Truck for You?

The Gladiator isn’t the right truck for all buyers, but it’s a great choice for:

  1. Outdoor Adventurers – Its impressive off-road abilities make the Gladiator perfect for those into camping, hunting, mountain biking, and other outdoor hobbies. It can get you deep into the wilderness in comfort.
  2. Second Vehicle – With its niche capabilities, the Gladiator works best as a second vehicle complementing a more road-focused daily driver. It’s built for fun weekends, not long work commutes.
  3. Jeep Enthusiasts – Previous Wrangler owners will appreciate having classic open-air Jeep enjoyment with added truck utility. The Gladiator is the ultimate Jeep.
  4. Small Business Owners – The Gladiator can be a handy truck for small business owners, tradespeople, and farmers who value its ruggedness and versatility.
  5. Tow/Haul Use – If you have modest towing and hauling needs like dirt bikes, ATVs, jet skis, or a small camper, the Gladiator can readily handle that.

For buyers wanting traditional full-size truck capabilities and comfort for family or work use, the Gladiator probably isn’t the best choice. But for adventure-seekers wanting a tough truck to complement an active outdoor lifestyle, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator is an compelling option.

The Final Word

The all-new Jeep Gladiator expertly delivers pickup truck utility combined with the spirit of adventure and freedom inherent in the Jeep Wrangler. For buyers seeking outdoor escapades and some truck versatility for hauling or towing toys, the Gladiator deserves serious consideration. It’s limited as a workhorse utility vehicle and guzzles gas, but makes up for that by enabling owners to enjoy travel off the beaten path. If you want a rugged, open-air pickup that can haul some gear while also cruising the dunes or conquering the trails, the Jeep Gladiator is a top choice.

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