The Gladiator is based on the Wrangler and uses a solid front axle, while the Ranger has independent front suspension.
The Ranger is available in two cab and bed configurations, the Gladiator is available in just one.
The two newest midsize pickups on the market today are the 2019 Ford Ranger and the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. The Ranger makes its return to the U.S. market after being gone since 2012 and is based on the foreign-market Ranger sold elsewhere in the world since way back in 2011. The Gladiator, on the other hand, is derived from the all-new JL Wrangler, which was introduced last year as a 2018 model. The Gladiator packs most of the Wrangler’s configurability and capability into a pickup package, making it one of the most interesting new vehicles to go on sale in years.
While both compete in the revitalized midsize pickup segment, the Ranger and the Gladiator go about things in different ways. Both offer most of the practicality and amenities buyers look for in a midsize pickup. That said, the Gladiator is more likely to appeal to enthusiasts thanks to toy like attributes such as its removable roof, removable doors, robust off-road capability and windshield that folds down. Ford has taken a different approach in launching the Ranger, neglecting to offer a bona fide off-road model, and instead focusing on bread-and-butter areas like powertrain, safety and value. No matter your needs, there’s a lot to like about both of these trucks, so below we’ll compare them in a number of categories to help give you a better idea of which one might be right for you.
The Ranger carries a starting price of about $25,500 and tops out at $47,000 in fully-loaded Lariat guise. The Gladiator starts at around $35,000 for a basic Sport model with a manual transmission and reaches $60,000 in top-of-the-line Rubicon trim.
The new Ranger is offered with one engine and one transmission. Luckily, it’s a good one. Under the hood of every 2019 Ford Ranger is a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder making 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque paired with a 10-speed automatic. It’s the same transmission offered in the larger Ford F-150. Two- and 4-wheel drive models are both available. Arguably the best powertrain offered in any midsize truck, the EPA rates the Ranger at 20 miles per gallon in the city, 24 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in combined driving, although these figures will likely differ in real-world driving scenarios. See the 2019 Ford Ranger models for sale near you
The Gladiator comes with just one powertrain as well, at least for now. Every 2020 Jeep Gladiator uses parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s venerable "Pentastar" engine, which a 3.6-liter V6 that in this case makes 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This comes paired with either an 8-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual. Every Gladiator comes standard with 4WD. With the automatic transmission, the EPA rates the Gladiator at 17 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined. Opt for the manual and that city figure decreases by one, the highway figure increases by one and the combined rating stays the same. A diesel is supposed to be added to the lineup later this year. Jeep advertises it simply as "late availability," which could mean a few months from now, or over a year, as automakers sometimes have a hard time getting diesel engines approved for sale due to compliance with emissions regulations. Output from the 3.0-liter diesel V6 is said to be 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque — an impressive figure. EPA fuel economy figures for the diesel have yet to be released. See the 2020 Jeep Gladiator models for sale near you
The 2019 Ford Ranger is rated to tow up to 7,500 pounds. A Gladiator Sport S configured with an automatic transmission and optioned with the Trailer Tow Package can pull up to 7,650 pounds. Rubicons are rated for 7,000 pounds. Jeep has stated that due to cooling capabilities, when the diesel is introduced, the gas-powered Gladiator will still offer the higher tow rating.
The Gladiator comes in four different trims. There’s a basic Sport model that comes with roll-up windows, no central locking, a basic canvas top and little else. Step up to the Sport S and you’re looking at more creature comforts like power windows, power locks, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a nicer soft top or an optional hard top, and more available options like an 8.4-in infotainment system and active safety features like adaptive cruise control. Buyers wanting more comfort and curb appeal should look to the Overland model, which is equivalent to a Wrangler in Sahara trim. The Overland comes standard with 18-in wheels, body-colored fenders, side steps and available leather-trimmed seats. The king of the Gladiator hill is the Rubicon, which is meant for heavy-duty trail use and offers loads of off-road features including locking front and rear differentials, an electronically disconnecting front sway bar, Fox suspension, 33-in all-terrain tires, lower 4WD gearing, taller fenders made for fitting 35-in tires and more.
Ford has opted to introduce the Ranger with three trim levels. The basic "work truck" is the XL model, which comes with fabric seats, steel wheels, and little else, although it does offer pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking as standard. Step up to the XLT and you’re looking at 17-in alloy wheels, fog lights, and more active safety features. The nicest Ranger you can currently buy is the Lariat model, which has leather seats, LED lighting, an 8-in touchscreen infotainment system, and push-button start among other things. Ford has taken a different approach to off-roading with the Ranger. Rather than offering one off-road trim level, Ford has made the Ranger’s off-road features available in the FX4 package, which can be had on any trim level, all the way from the base XL to the Lariat. The FX4 package comes with a tougher suspension, light all-terrain tires, a locking rear differential, exposed tow hoods, and a few different off-road modes, among other things. Keep in mind though that a Ranger with the FX4 package isn’t quite a worthy competitor to a mighty Gladiator Rubicon, and we fully expect Ford to introduce a proper high-performance off-road variant of the Ranger somewhere down the line.
The Ranger is offered as either an extended cab with room for four or as a crew cab with full rear doors and room for five. The extended cab comes with a standard-length 6-foot bed while the crew cab gets a shorter 5-foot bed. The Gladiator is available only as a crew cab with a 5-foot box. Every Gladiator comes with a roof that can be removed, doors that come off, and a windshield that folds down. Both soft and hard tops are available.
Expect reliability to be reasonable for both of these trucks. That said, the Ranger has been out for several years now in foreign markets, meaning that Ford has had ample time to address and correct any reliability issues related to design and manufacturing. The Gladiator, as well as the new JL Wrangler on which it’s based, is still a relatively new product line, so don’t be surprised if there are still a few kinks to be worked out that may result in a recall or two down the road. Still, we don’t think that reliability concerns should play a major role in your decision between these two trucks. Both come with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
The Ranger can be had with an impressive array of active safety features. Automatic emergency braking comes standard, while automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and trailer tow monitoring, radar cruise control, driver attention monitoring, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist are available for a reasonable $735 on all trim levels as part of Ford’s Co-Pilot360 package. The Ranger receives generally good scores in crash testing conducted by the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The Gladiator is available with forward-collision warning with braking assist and adaptive cruise control that can function at both highway speeds and in stop-and-go traffic. Blind spot monitoring and rear parking sensors are also available. Altogether, the Gladiator lags behind the Ranger in this area. The IIHS has yet to crash test a new Gladiator.
Both the Ranger and Gladiator can be had with great infotainment systems. Both vehicles offer 4G LTE with Wi-Fi capability along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on their upgraded infotainment systems. While Jeep’s 8.4-in UConnect system is a little more polished and a little more modern looking than Ford’s 8-in SYNC system, both are intuitive and easy to use.
As they are on the outside, the Gladiator and the Ranger are very different on the inside. Since the Ranger has been sold in foreign markets for close to a decade now, its interior feels somewhat bland and dated, with large, flat swaths of plastic dominating the dashboard and center stack. The Gladiator, which shares its interior with the Wrangler, comes with rounded air vents, rubberized buttons and a charming array of textures and materials for an overall more modern, polished look, giving it what is easily the nicest interior in the midsize truck segment. For this reason, we give the Gladiator a leg up in this area, that is if you’re a fan of its boxy, upright proportions.
These two trucks sit at opposite ends of the midsize truck spectrum. Either one checks just about all of the boxes when it comes to amenities, towing and hauling, and general truckiness. On top of this, the Ranger offers what is arguably the best powertrain in the segment, good driving dynamics, a no-nonsense interior and conservative styling, making it a great option for people who just need a truck for doing truck like things. It’s also less expensive than Jeep’s offering. The Gladiator, on the other hand, is perhaps the most toy like vehicle on sale today, despite also being great at doing truck-like things, it offers an iconic design, a robust off-road ready solid front axle, and endless configurability, although some of this detracts from its day-to-day livability. When it comes down to it, while both are great in their own way, the Ranger appeals to every-day sensibility, while the Gladiator appeals more to emotions. Which one is right for you is something you’ll have to decide for yourself. Find a Jeep Gladiator for sale or Find a Ford Ranger for sale