I’m not rugged or outdoorsy. I don’t like to camp, and I never go hiking.
I’m scared of a lot of things that would be considered adventurous. You’ll never find me zip-lining or cliff diving. I’m just not that kind of gal.
I have only ever gone ‘off-road’ driving once before in Detroit at the Chrysler Proving Grounds with a pro driver at my side guiding me through the trail.
When I booked the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon for the week in January, I asked for permission from Jeep Canada (I live in Canada) to take it off-road. ‘Sure,’ they said, ‘just no damage please and go do it with someone experienced’. YES. Such a key thing for off-roading – even IF you’re experienced (more on that later in my tips below). I asked this only because I “wanted” to take the Gladiator off-road, but I was still afraid. I knew that I couldn’t possibly drive this cool, fun and capable Jeep without putting it to the test off-road!
Tips for Off-Roading Beginners
If you’ve ever wanted to go off-roading but don’t know where to start, the right car is key. And the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon trim is very capable. So if you’re looking for a new off-road adventure vehicle, the Jeep Gladiator is worthy of almost any trail you could throw its way – including mud, water, snow, and rocks.
Go with Someone, Don’t Go Solo.
And by solo, I mean your ride – go with two or more cars for safety. This is in case someone gets stuck, breaks down or gets lost. If you have more than one car, you can tow or help with repairs if necessary, plus if you need to abandon one on the way, you’ll have someone to take you back to safety.
Need Some Company?
But what if you don’t know anyone who can go with you, or has an off-road capable vehicle? There are plenty of groups online dedicated to off-roading, especially Jeep enthusiasts! Look around on Facebook or Meetup and join some local Jeep groups, the sense of community in the Jeep world is real! My Jeep Wrangler-owning-friend even told me that there is a secret greeting that Jeep owners give each other when driving past one another on the road. Join a group and go with someone else on your off-road adventures. Making new friends is always a good idea.
I have a friend with a Jeep and plenty of experience with off-roading, so I asked him and his wife to show us the ropes and lead the way. We had an epic day following along all over the Fraser Valley, BC with these two!
Know Your Vehicle’s Capability and Equipment
If you are planning to go serious off-roading on remote roads with rock, water, mud, and potentially steep inclines, you’ll want to be SURE your truck can handle that, and you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the equipment available to you.
The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon is fully equipped and fully capable with these off-road must-haves:
2H, 4L, and 4H Drive Modes
This is the difference between 2 wheel drive High and 4×4 High ON-road conditions or Low for off-road driving.
Electronic Front Sway Bar Disconnect
Pressing the Sway Bar button in the Gladiator automatically disconnects the electronic sway bar to allow for better articulation over large obstacles and big uneven surface driving.
Locking Front and Rear Differential
The front and rear electronic locking differentials help maximize power delivery to all four wheels for increased traction, thus maintaining momentum on tough terrain.
Branded FOX aluminum-bodied 2-inch-diameter shocks transform the performance of Gladiator by using race-proven damping control to provide a comfortable on-road ride and predictable off-road handling in even the toughest conditions.
Off Road+ Button
You’re communicating to the vehicle that you’re going off-road so that it can automatically make throttle and transmission adjustments for you at the touch of a button.
Off-Road Digital Pages
Pitch and roll digital imagery along with temperature gauges on display on your touchscreen.
The forward-facing TrailCam aids in off-road Navigation. Helpful gridlines display the path in front of the tires to help you pick the best line for any obstacle and an integrated washer lets you clean any mud splatter from the camera with the simple push of a button.
High-strength steel skid plates help protect key components like the fuel tank and transfer case from damage caused by challenging trails.
This means snacks, water, a first-aid kit, blankets, a change of clothing, appropriate footwear and layers for the weather and then tools and extra safety equipment.
Our seasoned off-roading friends who took us into the mountains and trails near Harrison Lake, BC carried extra fuel, an air compressor, and even a chain saw. Believe it or not, the chain saw came in handy when we approached multiple downed trees on the trails and he was able to clear the way without issue.
Put your Tire over the Largest Obstacle
So now you’re on the trail and you’re with a friendly group of off-roaders all sticking together. Fun! Now, the basic rule of driving over obstacles such as large rocks, logs or bumps, is to put your tire on the obstacle as that’s the way to take your vehicle over it without damaging your undercarriage.
Get Out and Look Before Going Over an Obstacle
If you can’t see what is on the other side of an obstacle, like a cliff, rock or hillside, get out and go have a look to see before you drive over or through it. This holds for puddles too, if you can’t see how deep it is, it’s likely best not to make it straight for that puddle as you won’t know what to expect and you could quickly get stuck.
What Will the Jeep Gladiator Set You Back
So there you have it, the Jeep Gladiator is not only a functional pick-up truck but is also highly capable and full of adventure for off-road fun.
Starting at USD $33,545 for the Sport base trim and topping out at USD $45,370 for the Rubicon base trim plus plenty of options that can boost this price significantly and quickly.
The model I drove was a CAD $52,495 base plus options including freedom panels hardtop, tonneau bed cover, safety group, automatic transmission, a trail cam, trailer package, leather seating, cold weather package and LED lighting and UConnect ending up at a whopping CAD $69,040.
I got 16.9 average L/100 KM which equals about 13.9 MPG over the week and approximately 500 kilometers I put on the Gladiator.
I Overcame My Fears and Truly Enjoyed My Adventure in the Jeep Gladiator!
If it wasn’t for our experienced off-road friends, we would not have had the adventure we had in the Gladiator. I was grateful for the experience and can see how truly capable and exciting this truck can be.
We listened to some harder metal and classic rock in the Gladiator when we went on our off-road adventures!