The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is one of the most anticipated new pickups of the past 30 years. It combines a wild mix of fun and rugged features that no other truck in its class can even dream of. On top of all that, it looks great — a long wheelbase and bed do nothing to diminish its Wrangler-derived presence or charm. But none of that means a damn thing if the driving experience doesn't live up to the lofty expectations we have of this truck's capability.
That's why we've driven this truck several times, in rapid succession, and with different variants in different situations, to compile as accurate a picture as possible of how the Gladiator stacks up. Our first drive of the 2020 Gladiator was around Sacramento, and primarily in a Rubicon variant. Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski didn't mince words: "[W]e expect the Gladiator to positively fly off dealer lots ..."
So that's where this review steps in to flesh out our perspective on all the Gladiators. The Rubicon wows easily; its capabilities are monumental, and it looks badass. But the Overland has a cushy image, a more road-oriented variant with less hardcore offroad equipment. We decided to drive this Overland, equipped with an automatic transmission, hard top, and stock tires, from Sacramento all the way to Moab for some mild offroading, and then on to Denver.
We wanted to test a few things. For one, how would occupants hold up to a 14-hour day on the slab? And how would the mild-mannered Overland, with its mammoth wheelbase and lousy breakover angle, deal with some moderate trails? We chose some routes that simulated the kind of stuff we would expect a Gladiator Overland owner to actually try to tackle — rutted dirt tracks with small washouts and steps, the kind of trail you'd take to get to a semi-remote fishing hole or campsite. Stuff that a crossover couldn't clamber over, but a Rubicon would laugh at. The realistic middle ground, you might say. We even folded down the windshield.
The Overland surprised us — in a good way. You'll have to watch the video to find out exactly how, but let's just say we're still in agreement with our colleague Jeremy that the Gladiator is one hell of a truck.