• Jeep’s Return to Military Service Could Go Through The Gladiator Pickup

AM General’s Gladiator XMT could be of use to the U.S. military soon

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It’s safe to say that the Gladiator is winning a lot of fans over, and if the pickup’s momentum continues, the Gladiator’s fanbase could grow to include the United States Military. This, folks, is the Jeep Gladiator XMT. It’s a military-grade light tactical concept vehicle that was built by Jeep in partnership with AM General, the same company that made the Humvee, which later spawned the road-legal Hummer H1 back in the early 1990s. As popular as the Jeep Gladiator has become, it is a bit of a letdown that the coolest and most awesome version of the pickup won’t be available to the public. Then again, if it’s going to be used to defend our country, then we’re all for that. The Jeep Gladiator XMT made its debut at AUSA, the annual meeting exposition of the Association of the U.S. Army.

Jeep's Return to Military Service Could Go Through The Gladiator Pickup
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Those of you who have been around long enough to remember the ties between Jeep and AM General should know that the two companies share a bond that traces its roots to the former Jeep parent company American Motors Corporation. It was, after all, AMC that purchased Jeep from Kaiser in 1970 before splitting the brand to create Jeep, the namesake brand that we know today as a purveyor of SUVs, off-road vehicles, and pickups, and AM General Corp., the company that created the Humvee, which, in turn, spawned the Hummer H1 civilian ride and the Hummer brand.

Almost 50 years after their ties were permanently bound, Jeep and AM General have rekindled that bond to create the Gladiator Extreme Military-Grade Truck, or Gladiator XMT, for short. As far as first choices go, Jeep and AM General picked an excellent model to showcase their renewed partnership.

The Gladiator is arguably one of the most well-rounded pickup trucks in the market.

It’s capable of going anywhere, even some of the most rugged and inhospitable environments in the world. And that’s with the standard Gladiator. With the modifications and additions that went into creating the Gladiator XMT, Jeep and AM General turned the pickup into a full-blown military vehicle that should have no problem garnering some attention from the U.S. Army.

Jeep's Return to Military Service Could Go Through The Gladiator Pickup
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Neither Jeep nor AM General went into great detail describing the overhaul the Gladiator XMT received. We do know that it benefits from a specifically tailored upgrade program that includes the addition of custom-made accessories, including special seats with three-point harnesses, bigger wheels wrapped in massive BFGoodrich tires, and a winch, among others. Looking at the photos of the Gladiator XMT also reveals a more rugged front bumper, rock rails, new mirrors, and tubular doors in place of the pickup’s standard doors.

As it is, the Gladiator XMT has been repurposed to become a military communications vehicle, but that’s just scratching the tip of its full potential as an all-around military vehicle.

If need be, AM General can repurpose the Gladiator XMT’s bed and turn it into a personnel or gear transporter, the latter of which includes the ability to stow and move up to 1,600 pounds of military gear. Beyond these functions, AM General can also turn the bed into a mobile command and control center depending on the specific requirements laid out by the U.S. Army. Remember the Kaiser Jeep M715 truck that was used in the late 1960s? Imagine the Jeep Gladiator XMT as its modern-day equivalent. There’s a lot of purpose and function to a vehicle like this given its versatility as a potential multi-faceted service vehicle.

Jeep's Return to Military Service Could Go Through The Gladiator Pickup
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Details about the Gladiator XMT’s powertrain were not revealed, and it’s unlikely that we’ll get the scoop there unless the U.S. Army officially orders a fleet of this model.

We do know that the Gladiator is available with several engine options, including a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine that produces 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This engine is mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic transmission. The other available powertrain is a 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V-6 engine that produces only 260 horsepower but packs a whopping 442 pound-feet of torque. If you’re thinking about hauling a heavy load with the Gladiator, the V-6 diesel is the clear choice, even if it comes at the expense of losing out on outright power.

Engine 3.6-LITER PENTASTAR V-6 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V-6
Power 285 HP @ 6,400 RPM 260 HP
Torque 260 LB-FT @ 4,400 RPM 442 LB-FT

Either setup would make for compelling options for the Gladiator XMT. But if the U.S. Army wants to get jiggy with the Gladiator XMT, there is a way to drop a hefty 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat V-8 engine into the pickup. That setup would unlock over 700 horsepower for the military ride, a potentially useful amount of power that would fit into whatever purpose the military has for these models.

Jeep's Return to Military Service Could Go Through The Gladiator Pickup
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There is, of course, a catch with the Jeep Gladiator XMT. Technically, it’s a concept vehicle that Jeep and AM General unveiled at AUSA, the annual meeting exposition of the Association of the U.S. Army, over the weekend. Yes, it’s a concept. That means that the U.S. Army has yet to place an order for the truck and there’s a very real chance that this could be the first and last time we see the Gladiator XMT, especially if the military passes on ordering the model. If it does give the green light, the Gladiator XMT would become the first American military vehicle that traces its roots to Jeep since the Jeep CJ-5-based M38A1 was in production until 1971. There are historical ties to the Gladiator XMT Concept, not to mention modern-day appeal of what could potentially become a very useful lightweight military vehicle.

Only time will tell if the U.S. Army places an order, but I don’t think I’m the only one who believes that it should have already placed one.

The Jeep Gladiator XMT looks like a proper military vehicle that could have plenty of use in the field.

And if I’m being honest, I don’t mind seeing Jeep return to its military roots, either. This could be the automaker’s ticket back into service, and it’s an opportunity that it shouldn’t pass up in the name of protecting the United States of America.

Jeep Gladiator Sales History

The Jeep Gladiator has only been on the market for a few months, but that’s all it has needed to establish itself as a contender in the pickup market. Sales of the Gladiator have picked up significantly from the first full month it went on sale — 2,548 units sold in May — to last month where a whopping 16,132 units of the Gladiator were sold. To add some context to the Gladiator’s popularity, data obtained by Cox Automotive showed that buyers spent an average of $56,403 on the Gladiator, close to double of the pickups $33,545 starting price.

Further reading

2020 Jeep Gladiator Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Jeep Gladiator.

2020 Hennessey Maximus Jeep Gladiator Truck
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Read our full review on the 2020 Hennessey Maximus.

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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