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Jeep Gladiator vs. Jeep Wrangler: What's the Difference?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Chris O'Neill December 2018
  • The Jeep Gladiator is all-new and goes on sale in the second quarter of 2019.

  • The Jeep Wrangler was all new for the 2018 model year.

  • Both the Wrangler and the Gladiator have solid front and rear axles.

Jeep recently introduced the 2020 Gladiator, which is its first pickup in almost 30 years. Given that it's derived heavily from the new JL Wrangler, many are probably wondering how it stacks up to its fraternal twin. Below we'll take a look at the new Gladiator versus the 4-door Wrangler Unlimited in a number of categories to highlight the areas in which the two differ significantly.

Jeep Gladiator vs. Jeep Wrangler trim levels

Trim Levels

The Wrangler and Gladiator are offered in essentially the same trim levels, with one small exception. Both start with a base "Sport" model, followed by the "Sport S," which adds essentials like air conditioning, power equipment and a larger infotainment screen. The two models diverge when it comes to their luxury trim levels. The luxury Wrangler gets the "Sahara" name, while the luxury trim on the Gladiator will be known as the "Overland" model. The top trim level of both vehicles is the mighty Rubicon, which comes with a variety of features that prime either vehicle for heavy off-road use, details which we'll get into below.

Jeep Gladiator vs. Jeep Wrangler exterior

Exterior

The main difference here is pretty obvious -- the Gladiator has a bed, while the Wrangler sticks with a classic, boxy SUV profile. Both vehicles have the exact same removable doors, a windshield that folds down and available hard and soft tops, either of which is removable. Essentially, the Gladiator is all Wrangler from the back seat forward, although it is said to have wider grille slats to promote better cooling given its need to perform truck-like duties.

Jeep Gladiator vs. Jeep Wrangler dimensions

Dimensions

A Wrangler Unlimited is 188 inches long, 74 inches wide and 74 inches tall, and has a wheelbase of 118.4 inches. The only area in which the Gladiator differs significantly from the Wrangler is in its length. The new Gladiator is 219 inches long, adding 31 inches to the length of the Wrangler Unlimited. Approximately 19 of those inches are added to the wheelbase, meaning that 11.6 inches of additional length come aft of the rear wheel. The Gladiator's bed is 5 feet in length, on par with the short beds offered on the likes of the Chevrolet Colorado, the Toyota Tacoma and the Ford Ranger.

Jeep Gladiator vs. Jeep Wrangler interior

Interior

Inside is more of the same, save for the Gladiator's second row seating. Underneath the Gladiator's rear seat is a lockable storage area, while behind it is an optional, portable Bluetooth speaker that can support your adventures once they move outside of the vehicle.

Jeep Gladiator vs. Jeep Wrangler powertrain

Powertrain

The Gladiator's powertrain lineup won't be quite as diverse as that of the Wrangler's. Currently, the Wrangler is offered with either Chrysler's venerable 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which makes 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, or a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with a mild hybrid component, making 270 hp and 295 lb-ft. The 4-cylinder turbo is only available paired with an 8-speed automatic, while the V6 can be had with either the 8-speed auto or a 6-speed manual. In the coming months, a 3.0-liter diesel V6 is planned to be added to the lineup making 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. A plug-in hybrid is also rumored to be in the works.

The Gladiator launches with just one engine -- the 3.6 liter V6 -- which will make the same 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque that it does in the Wrangler. Just like in the Wrangler, the Pentastar-equipped Gladiator will be available with either a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic transmission. In 2020, the diesel engine will be added to the Gladiator lineup, and will make 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque and come mated exclusively to the 8-speed auto. Jeep has said that the 4-cylinder offered in the Wrangler has been deemed unfit for the towing needs of the Gladiator, and therefore won't be offered. The same likely goes for the plug-in hybrid.

Both the Wrangler and Gladiator come standard with 4-wheel drive.

Jeep Gladiator vs. Jeep Wrangler capability

Capability

Regardless of how it's equipped, the Wrangler Unlimited offers a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds, and a payload of just under 900 pounds. The gas V6-equipped Gladiator on the other hand offers a rather impressive maximum towing capacity of 7,650 pounds -- the best in the midsize truck segment -- along with a 1,600-lb payload capacity. Rubicon models will be able to tow a still impressive 7,000 pounds. These figures will potentially increase with the introduction of the diesel powertrains.

Off-Road

A comparison of the off-road ability of the Wrangler and the Gladiator should probably focus on the Rubicon models. The Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon comes with a litany of off-road features. These consist of an off-road oriented transfer case, 33-in all-terrain tires, rock sliders and underbody skid plates, an off-road suspension, locking front and rear differentials, disconnecting front and rear sway bars and beefier fenders. The Gladiator Rubicon retains all of this, adding additional rock protection to the corners of the bed, which are vulnerable due to their length.

Altogether, both of these vehicles will be best-in-class off-road. While many will cite the Gladiator's added wheelbase as a drawback off-road, this hasn't stopped midsize pickups like the Tacoma and the Colorado from dominating the off-road industry for years.

Conclusions

When it comes down to it, the Jeep Gladiator trades off a tiny bit of the Wrangler's inherent off-road ability for added utility in the form of a truck bed. The Gladiator can obviously carry more than the Wrangler thanks to its bed, and it can also tow more, as Jeep has set the vehicle up to be highly competitive with the rest of the midsize pickup segment in this regard. Expect the Gladiator to cost a little more than the Wrangler too, given its added practicality and desirability. In the end, buying a Gladiator over a Rubicon means sacrificing a little off-road geometry, and money, for pickup truck practicality and the satisfaction that comes with owning what is arguably the coolest pickup ever made. Altogether, you can't really go wrong with either.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Jeep Gladiator vs. Jeep Wrangler: What's the Difference? - Autotrader