According to some rumors, Jeep is planning its big re-entrance in the pickups segment, with the new model being based on the Gladiator Concept revealed in 2005.
The Gladiator Concept was based on the Wrangler model and was fitted with an innovative mid-gate which helped the driver transport longer weights. The mid-gate concept is not new and it’s borrowed from the Chevrolet Avalanche pickup.
The latest pickup developed by the company (the Comanche) was sold until 1992 and despite the fact that it was a fairly good product it never managed to attract a large number of buyers.
The Jeep Gladiator concept was basically a Wrangler transformed into a pickup. The front looked typically Jeep with a vertical radiator grille traversed by a set of vertical bars. The grille was flanked by a set of circular headlights and the oversized wheel arches which underlined the rugged look of the vehicle. The spoiler had a robust design and gelled well with the aggressive lines of the body.
The concept was fitted with a side-mounted box and an open-air canvas top. As any vehicle in Jeep’s lineup, the Gladiator was all about practicality and its big bed offered a generous load volume.
The truck was ideal for off road adventures as it had a huge ground clearance and a set of massive tires which looked ready to conquer any terrain with poise. The front and rear tires had a 34 inches diameter (265/75R18) and were mounted on 18x8 inch wheels.
Moreover, the Gladiator also comes with short rear overhangs which allowed a good departure angle for off-roading.
Similarly with the Chevrolet Avalanche, Jeep’s pickup received a practical mid-gate which permitted you to use some of the interior space for loads longer than 5 feet. The mid-gate brought an extra foot of length, while bringing the tailgate down brought an added two feet.
On the inside, the Gladiator was pretty spacious offering enough leg-, head- and shoulder-room. The doors were removable featuring Jeep’s standard pin hinge with a cloth limiter.
There were also some seats at the back, but they were too cramped to be suited for adults and not even kids could travel there comfortable.
The front bucket seats were deep and supportive offering a relaxing cruise. There were also enough adjustments to keep you happy.
The dashboard was robust and made us remember about the classical Jeeps that have started to be famous after the Vietnam War.
The steering wheel continued the military style initiated by the dash and came with four cylindrical spokes painted in a metallic color. The steering wheel was fairly easy to hold and wasn’t intrusive offering a good driving position.
The gear knob was pretty basic but it was pretty easy to maneuver. The cluster was designed in a classical way and came with four circular dials, all of them being relatively clean and easy to read.
The build quality was bullet proof and every material seemed ready to go in the middle of a war and come back without any scratch.
Engines and technologies
The Jeep Gladiator was powered by a 2.8 liter diesel engine which delivered a maximum power of 163 hp with a peak torque of 295 lb-ft. The engine was fairly strong and delivered adequate performances and good towing abilities.
It was the same unit that powered the Wrangler Unlimited and delivered a fuel consumption of 14 mpg city and 18 mpg highway.
On road, the Gladiator felt pretty civilized with better road manners than the Wrangler.
The vehicle was equipped with a solid front axle, while at the back, was fitted with a trailing arm system with coil-within-a-coil to handle both laden and unladen conditions. For superior performances there was also a front winch combined with front and rear locking differentials.
The front and rear suspension were multi-link designs offering a smooth ride and enough suspension travel to help you tackle the harshest terrains.
Thanks to its smart suspension setup, the truck was able to deal with a maximum payload of 1500 pounds.
If the rumors are true and the Gladiator Concept will enter production, the end product could be a fairly capable pickup truck with superior off road abilities. We can also expect to strong engines and superior driving dynamics combined with Jeep’s legendary reliability.