Finally, a Jeep For Pickup Truck Lovers: The 2020 Jeep Gladiator

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Covered In Mud. Photo By Dani Schnakenberg
2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon covered in mud. Photo by Dani Schnakenberg

All we love about Jeep, and all we love about pickup trucks, all in one.

A week before I met the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, I spoke at the RV Entrepreneur Summit.  I fit right in with everyone towing big rigs with big trucks.  I can talk about towing capacity all day long.  But there’s another interesting subset of the RV world when it comes to things with wheels—the Jeep people. I’ve long admired the rugged, fun “Jeep people,” but I’ve never gotten a chance to be one of them. From the outside, it looks like a ton of fun and a tight-knit community.
After experiencing their camaraderie at the RVE Summit, I was even more amped up to get hands-on with the brand new Jeep Gladiator. What wasn’t to be excited about? I got to merge my love of trucks and towing with my desire to experience being part of the Jeep family.
And the experience lived up to everything I dreamed of, and more.
Heritage Touches Can Be Found Throughout The 2020 Jeep Gladiator Including The Digital Background On The Instrument Panel. Photos By Dani Schnakenberg

Heritage touches can be found throughout the 2020 Jeep Gladiator including the digital background on the instrument panel. Photos by Dani Schnakenberg

Jeep Gladiator: Something Old, Something New

This isn’t the first time that Jeep has built the Gladiator, but it’s been quite some time.  I’m not kidding: the original Jeep Gladiator went out of production the year I was born.
But you won’t find a whole lot of design features that hale from the original Gladiator line-up.  Instead, Jeep reached back even further in their history, bringing 1940s nostalgia into the blend with Wrangler base and an abundance of useful new tech.
By far my favorite part of driving the Gladiator was watching the other Jeep drivers realize what they were seeing.  The standard Jeep-family wave or thumbs up quickly became emphatic fist-pumps and jaw-drops.
The standard 4-door Wrangler base elongated out to make room for the 5ft box creates a stunning blend of iconic Jeep lines while adding pure functionality that truck-lovers crave.
The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Brings You All Of The 4X4 Off-Roading Power You Could Want, With The Added Benefit Of A 5-Foot Truck Bed. Photo By Dani Schnakenberg

The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon brings you all of the 4×4 off-roading power you could want, with the added benefit of a 5-foot truck bed. Photo by Dani Schnakenberg

Come to the Jeep-Side, Pickup Truck People. We Have Features

The Gladiator comes with all of the Jeep features that you long for: removable tops and doors, front camera (that you can clean from inside), and off-roading capabilities. But it also comes with all of the truck features you can’t do without:
  • upgraded tires for towing,
  • wider grille vents for increased towing performance,
  • a rugged and spacious truck bed (that includes a 115v outlet),
  • a fantastic towing capacity (up to 7,650 pounds),
  • tire pressure monitoring system,
  • integrated trailer brake and sway control.
A few fun stats about the bed itself:
  • 90-95% of motorcycles will fit in the 5-foot box.
  • The tailgate has the same step-load as the tailgate on the Ram 1500 (1,800 pounds).
  • With the tailgate in the secondary position (45° angle), you can still fit 19 sheets of drywall or plywood.
The Jeep Gladiator also boosts thoughtful storage and cargo management systems. You’ll be able to take the doors off and still keep valuables safe with the lockable storage under the rear seat. The seat and storage underneath are even separately lockable so it’s not obvious that you have storage there. And of course, we can’t help but appreciate the built-in bolt bin for when you’ve disassembled the truck. In the box, tie-downs are perfectly placed where you’ll need them, yet perfectly out of the way when you don’t. The optional TrailRail system and locking tonneau cover take the possibilities even farther.
Red 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Covered In Mud.

Every color of Jeep Gladiator looks good covered in mud. Photo by Dani Schnakenberg

But is it Family-Friendly?

Let me go ahead and give this one a resounding “YES!” Jeep went the extra mile to make installing child safety seats easier. Beyond the obvious, Jeep also included a full suite of safety features including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross path detection, front and back view cameras and adaptive cruise control with full stop.
And what’s the other part that makes it family-friendly? The tech! Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available in the Gladiator, and you won’t be disappointed with the gorgeous touchscreens and all of the available personalization options.
Ultimately, the Gladiator is a perfect mid-size truck option for families who want the room to haul gear and plenty of places to plug in.
Anchors For Child Safety Seats Are Easily Accessible, And So Is The Tech In The 2020 Jeep Gladiator. Photos By Dani Schnakenberg

Anchors for child safety seats are easily accessible, and so is the tech in the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. Photos by Dani Schnakenberg

But Really, How Did it Drive?

The most common question I’ve gotten when talking about the Jeep Gladiator is “but how loud is it?” And that comes from anyone who’s ever ridden in a Jeep. For most, that’s part of the fun, feeling the wind in your hair as you drive down the road.  But when we look at a vehicle as an everyday driver and wondering if we can hear the kids in the backseat, we wonder how it will drive with the top on.  And I have to say that my experiences in the Sport, Overland and Rubicon models were all quieter than I expected. The hard-top Overland trim was so quiet both in town and on the interstate that you could almost forget you were driving something that becomes a convertible so easily.
Jeep Gladiator Sport Towing Airstream

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator boasts best in class towing capacity. Shown here is the Jeep Gladiator Sport towing a 25-foot Airstream Flying Cloud. Photo by Dani Schnakenberg

Towing with the Gladiator was an interesting experience. They hooked up a Sport trim to a 25-foot Airstream Flying Cloud that was a little bit more than I would want to tow with a mid-size truck on a regular basis, but it handled it pretty well. The iconic travel trailer itself is within the towing capacity for that trim-level, but once you load it up with everyday gear and a couple of people in the truck, you’ll wish you’d gone a bit smaller. (Just something to keep in mind if you’re looking for this to tow your home-on-wheels!). Overall though, the towing features like the backup camera and integrated trailer brakes are fantastic features to find on a mid-size truck.
But the real fun came when we got the Rubicon trim out on the off-roading course. It doesn’t take long to develop trust in the Rock-Track system and climbing down steep rock-covered hills and back up mud-covered ones never really gets old.
Silver 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon On An Off-Road Course.

The Jeep Gladiator is the only Trail-Rated midsize truck, and it tackled everything we threw at it on this course. Photo by Dani Schnakenberg.

What the Jeep Gladiator Costs
Jeep Wrangler, which is the underpinning of the Gladiator, has a starting price of nearly $10,000 less than the Gladiator, which has an opening price of $33,545 for the manual transmission – and yes, you can get this truck in a stick shift! The Overland starts $42,395 for the automatic model and the Rubicon starts at $45,545 (also automatic transmission).
In the end, the Jeep Gladiator is everything a truck person could dream of.  We can finally live in both worlds with this fantastic piece of machinery.
The Jeep Gladiator Is Everything A Truck Person Needs And Everything A Jeep Person Demands. And This &Quot;Best Of Both&Quot; Does Both Exceptionally Well!

What Sounds Great in the Jeep Gladiator

When getting out in the wild with your people and your gear, these songs are the perfect soundtrack for hitting the highway to your hilltop. And once you’re there they sound great on the Jeep’s sound system as you’re setting up camp, grilling dinner or chilling by the fire after sunset.

Disclosure: I was Jeep’s guest for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided. All opinions are my own.