What these speculators and pundits seem to forget that the Gladiator is very capable of doing what their competitors are doing.
Some spins at the Rental Car Roulette wheel may turn into serious gambles…
For example, if you’re a loyalty program member at a given car rental agency, you have a profile set to include certain add-ons to your rental. Then, you realize that while checking your app to pick up your vehicle a certain feature you pay for all of the time is not available. You want that vehicle, but you are not given it because it does not come with that feature.
As I am finding out with some vehicles sold in this country, satellite radio is not embedded into their infotainment systems. This deleted feature is usually found on lower trim models. Guess what most rental car fleets are made of? Vehicles with lower trim levels.
You could compensate this by using your smartphone app through the vehicle’s mirroring function. SiriusXM’s app undergone its revamp, but it does not fully function like its in-vehicle counterpart. Then again, some of us have Spotify and other streaming services we use instead of – or, along with – SiriusXM.
That was my dilemma on a recent spin on the Rental Car Roulette wheel. I wanted a pickup truck to do some errands in. They had a lot of Jeep Gladiators available. None of them had SiriusXM available to be enabled through their UConnect 4 systems. In the meantime, there was a lone Toyota Tacoma on the lot that was popping up on my app. That had SiriusXM on board.
A visit to the express service counter helped cleared that up. Given my last few turns in the soon-to-be-majorly-revamped Taco, I wanted to not take the Toyota at any cost. I wanted the Gladiator instead.
So, I got one. It did what it had to do. It also reminded me about another looming story happening at its corporate headquarters…
The Jeep Gladiator became the de facto mid-size pickup truck for Stellantis. There had been talk for years of a mid-size – or compact – pickup offering for the Ram Trucks brand. It seems logical, since their split from Dodge to create a truck and commercial vehicle brand for North America. The volume has increased thanks to a wave of new and improved midsize pickup trucks – the forthcoming 2024 Tacoma, included – that are attracting those spurned by the rising sticker prices on full-sized, half-ton pickup trucks.
That storyline is coupled by the introduction of the Ford Maverick (#VOTY2023) and Hyundai Santa Cruz and the potential of a smaller pickup truck class that could be had a much lower price point. Thee talk of Stellantis entering that segment through Ram has been one of the big rumors of the past few years.
What these speculators and pundits seem to forget that the Gladiator is very capable of doing what their competitors are doing. The numbers speak for themselves: A 1,710-pound maximum payload rating and a 7,700-pound maximum towing rating.
Sure, it is based on the JL Wrangler. It us an extended version of the iconic off-roader with a longer wheelbase and frame. They even retained the “cab” from the Wrangler four-door model. Only the bed is different.
Is that something new for Jeep? Absolutely not! Going back to the days of the Civilian Jeep made by Willys-Overland, Jeep always offered a pickup truck. Remember the Scrambler from the early 1980s? Same concept as today’s Gladiator, but with an integrated bed with the CJ-7 body.
The Gladiator does tick all of the boxes in today’s mid-sized pickup truck segment. Beyond the capability numbers, the Gladiator only comes in a four-door cab. Unlike its core competitors, four-wheel drive is standard. It also has a 285-horsepower Pentastar V6 underneath its hood with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Yet, we have to remind ourselves of the Gladiator’s purpose. Think about the time when you tried to take home an entire backyard project in a Wrangler. Or, tried to tow a larger trailer with two snowmobiles on it. As long as you know the maximum limits for payload and towing, the Gladiator would easily do more than your Wrangler Unlimited 4-Door.
The rental I got was the Sport model. It had comfortable cloth seats with manual adjustments, the usual switchgear found on all Wranglers and Gladiators, and a removable roof. It wore 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires. While the ride was nice, it had a few instances where stability and handling were concerning. I will say that the Gladiator was better driving experience then the outgoing generation of the Tacoma.
If you were to buy one, you can find a Gladiator Sport for around $48,000. Thy start from under $40,000. These are on the higher end of pricing for four-wheel drive mid-sized pickup trucks, but some Jeep consumers will justify its price with their intended purpose.
If Stellantis introduces a Ram mid-sized pickup truck, what will that do to the Jeep Gladiator? Will they sell it as a lifestyle vehicle? It appears they do that already. Then again, consumers see the mid-sized pickup truck segment as more for leisure activities than work vehicles.
If the Jeep Gladiator is your vibe, it should live up to your expectations while equipped to do the job you’re asking it to do. Rent one and find out. You might get a Jeep Wave in return.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle rented by Victory & Reseda
All photos by Randy Stern