I apologize to every Jeep owner I ever rolled my eyes at when they were talking about their Jeep.
I get it now. I get why Jeep people are so passionate about their Jeeps. It was something I didn’t understand until I got behind the wheel of the 2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon but once I did, the aha moment was not too long in coming.
It started out like this…
I was talking cars with a girlfriend last year (yes, women actually do that) and I asked her opinion of what our next family car purchase should be. My friend really knows cars and knows my lifestyle, so I value her perspective.
She told me we needed to get a Jeep. My response went something like, “Say what?”
I live with my husband and my two youngest kids, who are both in elementary school. Her answer surprised me because I didn’t think a Jeep seemed like the obvious choice for a family car. A Jeep is something for younger adults or new couples on a thrill-seeking adventure. When I asked her why, her answer was simple:
“Because it would be super-duper fun.”
Okay, so she actually used another descriptive word in place of super-duper but I’ll keep this G-rated and let you use your imagination about the grownup words.
AKA “That New Jeep Truck”
If this design looks slightly familiar, it’s because Jeep did briefly have a truck in the 90’s. Now, it’s back, and Jeep has done it better than ever.
I drove the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon—which you might know as “that new Jeep truck”—for a week and now I get it. I used to just not understand Jeep people and why they were so in love with their Jeeps. But they’re tons of fun!
I drove the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon in town, on the highway and on some light dirt roads. I didn’t do any off-roading or things that would really put this beauty through her paces, so my thoughts on this just scratch the surface.
But even that little ride left me wanting more. Every time I slid behind the wheel (actually, “hoisted myself up into the driver’s seat” is probably a better way to describe the movement), I felt empowered. Badass.
This is a really good way to feel when you’re driving, whether you’re scaling a rocky hill or driving your kids to piano lessons.
See also: I really want to scale rocks now. Piano lessons? Meh.
Is the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Family Friendly?
While “Jeep Gladiator” might not be the first thing that pops into your mind when you’re narrowing your list of would-be family cars, I think any prospective Jeep owner/adventure seeker is going to consider how their kids (and four-legged children) are going align with their car choice.
If you’re looking for off-road adventure or rugged capability, obviously, the Jeep is going to offer that. If your adventure car has to pull double duty as your everyday go-to-the-grocery-store-carpool-line ride, the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon can definitely get it done. The gas mileage might not be ideal but honestly, the fun of the drive and the general feeling of behind-the-wheel badassery makes up for some extra fuel spend, in my opinion.
And, yes, I’m aware that I’ve twice used the word badass to describe this ride. Some things bear repeating.
Other Things to Know
(Because that’s the first thing you want to know, right?)
The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon starts at $45,390. With options, the vehicle you see pictured will run you about $64,000. Honestly, this is more than I like to pay for an everyday car, and I would still buy this Jeep. It is that cool.
The Jeep Gladiator has seven other models that begin at around $35K. With options, the Jeep Gladiator pricing tops out at around $70K. It sounds like a lot, but you’ll be able to mix and match the packages and add-ons to craft the perfect family vehicle.
(Because that’s probably the second thing you want to know.)
16 MPG City/22 MPG Highway. Purchasing a model with standard transmission may slightly decrease your fuel economy. The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon shown here had automatic transmission.
You don’t buy a Jeep with fuel efficiency in mind. That said, I don’t think this is terrible for everyday driving.
If you want to feel like you’re riding on a cloud, buy an Escalade or an Acura. If comfort is in your top “gotta haves” when you’re car buying, you’re probably not shopping for a Jeep.
That said, this Jeep is comfortable enough for every day driving. The rear seat is roomy, and the driver/passenger seats had plenty of leg room. I love the height of the Jeep. There’s a step to enter the cab, but if you can’t handle a little hop and a little stretch to get your butt into the driver’s seat, this isn’t for you.
Really a Truck?
The bed is fully functional. We used it to haul BBQ—we didn’t want the cab to smell like our lunch while we were hiking. That probably doesn’t count as far as assessing functionality, but there was room in the bed to do anything you’d want to do with a mid-size truck.
Really a Jeep?
My experience with Jeeps is limited, but this is the real deal. The door panels and roof panels come off, and it has a respectable towing capacity, depending on which model/options you choose.
If you want a Jeep that can do all the Jeep things with a functional bed (keep in mind, what you’ve got in the bed will impact your towing payload), then this is one to check out.
My friend was right. A Jeep is super-duper fun and I think this should be my next car.
Full disclosure: Jeep provided the 2021 Gladiator Rubicon for me to test. All opinions are my own.