JL Wrangler vs JT Gladiator Pickup - Differences and Crawling Comparison Test

  1. JAY

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    Nice primer and a real world crawling comparison test between the Jeep JL Wrangler and Jeep JT Gladiator.



    The long-awaited arrival of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator begs an obvious question: How does it differ from the Jeep Wrangler we already know? We happen to have a four-door 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon in our long-term test fleet, which we were able to test against the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon we recently got our hands on. They matched up so exactly — right down to the color — that we were instantly able to pick out and explain their differences.

    The Gladiator is indeed a Jeep pickup truck, but it's much more than just a Jeep Wrangler with the back cut off and a pickup truck bed welded on. This side-by-side Jeep comparison does indeed show that the two are virtually identical from the rear doors forward. But the frame beneath the Gladiator is both longer and stronger, and its rear suspension is similar to the link-coil suspension found in a Ram 1500 pickup.

    Perched above is a legitimate 5-foot truck bed that's as capable as any other midsize pickup, and our Gladiator Rubicon can tow 7,000 pounds — double what a Wrangler Rubicon can tow. Yes, the Gladiator's longer wheelbase worsens its breakover and departure angles compared to a Wrangler Unlimited. But the Rubicon running gear they both share still gives the Jeep truck impressive off-road abilities compared to competing off-road pickups. So, yeah, a Wrangler is better off-road, but the practical difference isn't as big as you'd think. It could be just the thing if you're one of those people who've always wanted a Wrangler but never went through with it because you needed a truck.

    About the 2018 Jeep Wrangler

    The Jeep Wrangler needs no introduction, as this iconic vehicle is the very heart and soul of the Jeep brand. The 2018 Jeep Wrangler represents a complete redesign, and it is by far the best example Jeep has ever made. The impressive 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 returns, and there's a new optional 2.0-liter turbocharged mild hybrid four-cylinder that offers better mpg, more torque and better overall performance at high altitude. A six-speed manual with a revised shift mechanism is standard, and a new eight-speed automatic that we like quite a bit replaces the last model's unloved five-speed automatic.

    As before, the chassis is a traditional ladder frame with solid front axles and coil springs at each end. This year the safety cage is more smoothly integrated into the body, improving the function of the removable doors and folding windshield. But the improved interior represents perhaps the most striking difference, with its higher grade of materials, upgraded switchgear, and high degree of infotainment technology. As before, the Wrangler is available in Sport, Sport S, Sahara and the off-road optimized Rubicon, and you have your choice of two doors or four.

    About the 2020 Jeep Gladiator

    The new Gladiator may just be the perfect vehicle for those who want a Jeep but need a truck. It benefits from the Wrangler's well-sorted V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission combination, and it has the same impressive-to-look-at and easy-to-use interior as the newest Wrangler. And its pickup credentials are real: The Sport S can tow 7,650 pounds and has a 1,600-pound payload, but even the Rubicon can tow 7,000 pounds.

    Yes, the driving experience does suffer a bit from the very Jeepy solid front axle, but a smooth-riding coil-spring rear suspension offsets that. And it's true that the Gladiator's wheelbase is a bit long compared to other crew-cab pickups. That's a mixed bag because it smooths out the ride and tracks it straighter on the road, but it also reduces breakover clearance and makes it more likely to drag its belly off-road. This aspect is meaningful if you compare it to a Wrangler, but it's less significant when compared to other midsize trucks.
     
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  2. WXman

    WXman Well-Known Member

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    That's cool. The Gladiator is going to maintain most of Wrangler's offroad prowess, but it'll be far better at daily chores that most guys use a vehicle for. It's like having your cake and getting to eat it too.
     
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  3. Columbus104

    Columbus104 Well-Known Member

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    These vehicles seem to be going after 2 very different market segments, and doing a great job of addressing the needs of each. I anticipate a lot of Wrangler owners trying to justify their $50k purchase by saying how much more important approach and departure angle is. And I anticipate a lot of Gladiator buyers will argue that towing capacity makes this the much more obvious choice. But in reality they are neither intended to, nor will they, compete with each other. Different vehicles, different buyers, meets the need of each. And I'll happily wave a couple fingers at an Gladiator I pass on the road.

    (and not solely because from head-on, no freaking way I could tell which one is driving towards me) :jk:
     
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  4. SnowDog

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    It would be nice if they could figure out a way to increase the towing capacity of the Wrangler. I don't want a truck bed, but I do envy the Gladiator's ability to tow.
     
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  5. mwilk012

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    The best way to increase the towing capacity is to lengthen the wheelbase. Doing that to a wrangler would be, for lack of a better word, stupid.
     
  6. Fuel Fire Desire

    Fuel Fire Desire Well-Known Member

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    While I already am disappointed in how many more 3 point turns I need to make with my JLU compared to my 2 door JK, and the truck length wheelbase will only exacerbate the issue, having the ability to tow AND have a narrow gauge track 4x4 (compared to a full size truck) is a huge plus.....but a niche.

    In the areas where I drive, two tracks in densely forested areas are unavoidable. IF I needed the ability to tow, the gladiator would be a near perfect option given the excellent features the rubicon offers. It would be able to squeeze down trails a full size truck simply can’t, and be more capable than the Ranger, Colorado, or Canyon (a TRD Taco would be it’s direct competition....assuming it can tow like the Gladiator). Though, again, it will be very niche. My guess is that 90% of sales will be to those who simply thinks it’s cool, or to those that want an open air truck to commute to the office in.


    Owning one is still on my mind......but I dread having to turn that thing around on a two track.
     
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  7. aai

    aai Well-Known Member

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    I’m guessing we will be seeing these trucks on 37s or larger tackling the same stuff we see over and over
     
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  8. SnowDog

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    Yeah I don’t want them to increase the wheelbase either. But there must be other ways to increase the towing capacity of a Wrangler.
     
  9. multicam

    multicam Well-Known Member

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    “Yes, the Gladiator's longer wheelbase worsens its breakover and departure angles compared to a Wrangler Unlimited.”

    Back in 2007:

    “Yes, the Wrangler Unlimited’s longer wheelbase worsens its breakover and departure angles compared to a Wrangler.”
     
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  10. aai

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    It wasn't too long ago some fortunate people were dropping $100k-$130k for a Brute double cab. Now its attainable to the masses for WAY less. The sky is the limit on mods or keep it bone stock for $35k.

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  11. aai

    aai Well-Known Member

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    #11 Apr 14, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
    no argument here, except moms' been wheeling much larger vehicles eg. Suburbans in the last 40 years with no issues. Scenario, simple man who's happy with a base truck gets a wild hair and decides to throw on 1ton axles and churn 40s...well he can do that. It DOES have the DNA. Something that has not been mentioned much. Only a pipe dream with the so called competition the Colorado, Tacoma, new Ranger etc etc.

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  12. Goin2drt

    Goin2drt Well-Known Member

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    I see these becoming the overlander choice no doubt. They all seem to want a little more space and they don't do the serious wheeling to have that be an issue.
     
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  13. Arterius2

    Arterius2 Well-Known Member

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    I read that one of the major design update they’ve done to the JT to reach that towing capacity is to open up the grille even further for better radiator cooling, and since the openings are the same size, just the trim insert is thinner and the the mesh pattern is different I imagine this is something you can replace yourself.

    Here is the article that goes in depth on this issue:
    https://jalopnik.com/the-engineering-behind-the-jeep-gladiators-tow-rating-1833657453

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  14. R3D J33P

    R3D J33P Well-Known Member

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    Agreed...I mean an Audi Q7 can tow 8,000 lbs.
     
  15. Ravager

    Ravager Well-Known Member

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    Here's my dumb question of the day, how does the Gladiator get 3000lbs more tow capacity than a JLU? Same engine. How does that work?
     
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