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Video | I Took My Brand New Jeep Gladiator to CarMax for an Appraisal

CarMax repeatedly advertises its willingness to buy any vehicle — a claim to fame that’s been heavily exploited by myself and countless other YouTubers over the years. The fact that they will make an offer on anything — including, for example, my old 1983 Chrysler Lebaron and 2005 Bentley Continental GT, has created some amusing results — so I was curious what the used car retail giant would offer on my brand new Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Launch Edition. Strangely, CarMax almost wouldn’t do it.

Of course, I had no intention of actually selling my Gladiator to CarMax, unless the offer was way above what I paid for it. Still, even if I sold it for more than the original MSRP, my launch edition would be difficult to replace — since I can’t order another one, and many dealers are marking them up for thousands over sticker. Currently on Autotrader, the most expensive asking price for a new Gladiator is over $80,000, with several offered at over $70,000. That’s some serious markup considering the original MSRP for a fully loaded launch edition is $62,310. So, apparently, some Jeep dealers think there’s a pretty strong demand for their latest product.

I was lucky to have a friend with a Jeep dealership, who gave me a deal at $58,000, or about $4,000 off — and he was equally generous with my Denali trade in as well. This made all the problems I had with the order process through Jeep, and the delivery delays, easier to bear — as Jeep decided to begin stocking stores with regular Gladiators before fulfilling the launch edition orders. As I described in an earlier post, ordering this launch edition was a little more challenging than it should have been, as well. Jeep also boasted they had sold out of launch editions within a day, but that doesn’t appear to be the case, since there are several units currently advertised on Autotrader for immediate purchase.

Despite the fudged launch, there’s clearly a buzz right now for the new Gladiator, and I’m getting a ton of attention driving mine around — but the same buying frenzy happened with other new cars in previous decades. Cars like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, the Hummer H2, and the second-generation Toyota Prius commanded premium prices at their launch — but history has not looked upon these once-hot offerings very kindly. While I certainly don’t think the Gladiator is destined to the same fate as the PT Cruiser, I do have a few complaints.

Coming from a 2017 Sierra Denali, which is the quintessential luxury pickup truck, to this rustic Gladiator was certainly an adjustment — but I was willing to make sacrifices for the smaller size, and extra off-road capability. Mostly, though, I wanted to be able to take the roof off my pickup truck, which is by far my favorite feature. In my twisted head, this was worth giving up many comfort features, and a considerable amount of towing capacity.

Overall, I like the styling, but I cringe at the unnecessary fake hood scoops and fender cowling — but the vast majority of car buyers have accepted this trend for generations. While I find it annoying, it’s not enough to stop me from buying one. The only part that has me regretting not test driving a Gladiator before buying one is the seats. They are very stiff, and the bottom doesn’t adjust enough to give my long legs enough thigh support. If I move the seat farther back to give my legs a more comfortable position, my head hits the rollbar. At 6-foot 2-in, I’m not Doug DeMuro tall, so I didn’t expect to have problems like this. Honestly, I feel more comfortable sitting in my 1990 Mazda Miata — even with the top up!

Of course, the rear legroom isn’t stellar either, but that’s to be expected with a smaller pickup truck. The slightly underpowered V6 engine is another trade-off, but I’m not missing the power all that much. In many ways, the Gladiator has a lot of advantages over my old Sierra Denali, including the more advanced infotainment system — but the biggest annoyance I’m having with the Jeep’s tech is with the collision alert system. With my old Denali, a red LED light would flash brightly on the windshield if an imminent collision was detected, which it rarely did — and I always recall it acting appropriately. It’s a great feature that has probably prevented thousands of accidents, but in the Gladiator, it’s more like the boy who cried wolf.

Rather than keeping my eyes ahead, the collision alert in the Jeep directs my attention down to the instrument cluster, since it flashes there — and so far, every single warning has been a false alarm. At least twice, it’s alerted me to slowing or stopped vehicles in a different lane, and I’ve had several more annoying alerts stemming from objects and vehicles that aren’t even on the road — let alone in my direct path. Given the Wrangler version of this platform doesn’t have the best crash safety rating, I guess it’s better to be overly cautious — but it does get pretty annoying.

Still, none of these issues would have me giving up my newly purchased Gladiator, because I really do love it overall, but I was curious what CarMax would think it was worth. I knew this would be particularly challenging for them, since they base their values on wholesale data from auctions — and so far, there haven’t been many that sold. According to the Manheim auctions app, which has the largest wholesale network in the nation, only one Gladiator Rubicon has sold old out of their 145 auction locations so far. I don’t know if it was a launch edition, but even if it was, the Jeep still sold for over the top-tier Gladiator’s MSRP, bringing an impressive $63,500.

When I brought my Gladiator to CarMax, the buyer’s department wasn’t sure if they could make an offer, because I hadn’t registered it yet — so they couldn’t generate an Autocheck or a Carfax to check the history. After a long wait, it seems they finally got an approval — and after even more waiting, they finally had a number. Their bid came in at $53,000, which was $9,000 off the sticker price — and $5,000 less than what I paid. I was expecting a few thousand more, but it was still a solid offer. I’ve documented much bigger losses on cars here on Oversteer than what Carmax was offering.

Still, I politely declined their offer, and when I told the dealer that sold me the Gladiator what I was doing, he offered to buy the truck back for the $58,000 I paid. Even with the 800 miles I put on it, he expected my Gladiator could still fetch the full sticker price. Despite the very generous offer, I’m keeping it. I’ve barely gotten my first sunburn, let alone had any real adventures yet! Find a Jeep Gladiator for sale

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  1. I get that you need a truck but personally I still would get a 2-door Wrangler if I was in the market. I think it just looks better and is so much less expensive. Trade in value isn’t as good but knowing you’ll still be able to negotiate on one it would be a wash. 

    • The gladiator and the two-door wrangler are vastly different vehicles. You can actually use the gladiator for work, instead of just for fun. 

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