First Look – New or Revised 2020 Jeep Gladiator

AutoInformed.com on Jeep

Mopar-modified 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon display at the 2018 AutoMobility LA.

The all-new or revised body-on-frame 2020 Jeep Gladiator debuted at the Los Angeles show immodestly boasting it’s the most capable midsize truck ever. It’s recognizable as a real Jeep design, with a claimed best-in-class towing and 4×4 payload, fuel-efficient powertrains, good on- and off-road dynamics and contemporary safety and advanced technology features. The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is available in four different trim configurations: Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon. Built in Toledo, Ohio, the all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator arrives in showrooms in the second quarter of 2019.

“There is tremendous demand for this unique vehicle from our loyal Jeep customers and pickup truck buyers everywhere,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of Jeep North America.

Off-road prowess comes from Command-Trac and Rock-Trac 4×4 systems, third-generation Dana 44 axles, Tru-Lock electric front- and rear-axles, Trac-Lok limited-slip differential, a segment-exclusive sway-bar disconnect and, gulp, 33-inch off-road tires.

No surprise Jeep design kept the familiar seven-slot grille seen on Wrangler but widened the grille slots for additional air intake to assist with the increased towing capacity. The top of the keystone-shaped grille is swept back to enhance aerodynamics.

Gladiator Overland and Rubicon models have optional LED headlamps and fog lamps. Gladiator models equipped with LEDs feature daytime running lights, which form a halo around the outside perimeter of the headlights. Forward turn signals are positioned on the front of the trapezoidal wheel flares.

From behind, traditional square tail lamps feature available LED lighting and give way to a wide tailgate opening for unobstructed loading of cargo into the bed. The tailgate is damped and capable of stopping in three positions, while cargo is easily secured with a power-locking tailgate.

Under-rail bed lighting, an optional covered external power source (400W 115-volt, three-prong) and strong integrated tie-downs, provide versatility. The available Trail Rail Cargo Management System provides additional storage options to organize and secure cargo. The full-size spare tire and mount is located under the bed, behind the rear axle and capable of holding up to a 35-inch tire. An optional spray-in bed liner, bed divider and tonneau cover provide even more options to keep cargo secure while helping with durability. Gladiator Rubicon models are equipped with protective cab and cargo bed rock rails.

A four-bolt design at the top of the windshield’s frame allows for the windshield to fold down quickly. A header bar connects the A-pillars and stays in place even when the windshield is folded down. This allows the rearview mirror to remain in place even with the windshield folded.

Two-piece body-color fender flares with a black lower are standard on Overland and available on Rubicon models.

Lightweight, high-strength aluminum doors feature the Torx bit size stamped directly onto the hinge to eliminate guessing which size bit is needed to remove the doors. A tool kit with the necessary Torx bits to remove the doors and lower the windshield is provided as standard equipment.

All Gladiators body-color sport bars, which are welded to the body and feature integrated grab handles for front occupants. What’s called a Sunrider soft top provides a “segment-exclusive” easy open-air option, which helps to quiet wind noise and allows for access to partial and full open top positions. The soft top features retainers that slide into a track for easy rear window removal. So much for flapping canvass and popping snaps…

Gladiator Overland and Rubicon models share an available three-piece body-color hardtop option, offering a unique, premium appearance, while a black three-piece hardtop, available on all models, offers even more options for open-air driving. The two Freedom panels and quick-release latches enable a fast removal and installation of the hardtop. All hardtops feature a manual rear-sliding window.

The all-new Jeep Gladiator offers the “proven” or is that aging 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine at launch with a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 engine being offered in 2020, clearly aimed at export markets.

The 3.6-liter engine is rated at 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. It is engineered to provide a broad torque band with a focus on low-end torque needed for extreme off-roading.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard on all Gladiator models equipped with the 3.6-liter V-6, and an eight-speed automatic transmission is optional.

Jeep or its forerunner owners have  produced more than 8.6 million 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar engines since production began in 2010. The engine family is currently built at three plants – Trenton (Michigan) Engine Complex, Mack Avenue (Detroit) Engine and Saltillo (Mexico) South Engine.

The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine – optional starting in 2020 – is rated at 260 horsepower and 442 lb.-ft. of torque, with ESS standard. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard and is designed to handle the increased torque output. FCA US engineers adapted the engine – designed and manufactured by FCA EMEA – to meet the NAFTA region’s regulatory requirements.

Gladiator models are equipped with the standard six-speed manual transmission. This transmission features a unique design that employs optimized gear ratios for bolstered crawl ratio performance and is cable-operated, eliminating shifter vibration and bolstering sound isolation.

Apparently suited to the requirements of the Gladiator Rubicon model, the eight-speed automatic transmission delivers a 77.2:1 crawl ratio. The towing and 4×4 performance benefits from a 4.7:1 first gear ratio coupled with a 4.1:1 final drive delivers unmatched capability.

The Command-Trac 4×4 system, standard on Sport and Overland, has a two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, and heavy-duty third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a 3.73 rear axle ratio.

On Gladiator Rubicon, a “Rock-Trac” 4×4 system features heavy-duty third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a “4LO” ratio of 4:1. A 4.10 front and rear axle ratio is standard as are Tru-Lok locking differentials.

With the standard six-speed manual transmission, Gladiator Rubicon has a crawl ratio of 84.2:1, and 77.2:1 on Rubicon models equipped with the optional eight-speed automatic transmission – both of which make scaling any on the trail obstacle easier

When compared to Jeep Wrangler 4-door, Gladiator’s frame is an additional 31 inches longer while the wheelbase is 19.4 inches longer. The longer wheelbase and the bed’s positioning center aft of the rear axle centerline enables for better weight distribution and a more comfortable and composed ride when carrying cargo. The prop shaft, brake, fuel lines and exhaust system were lengthened to accommodate the changes needed to make the proven body-on-frame design work with the most capable midsize truck ever.

A traditional steel bed utilizes four steel cross-members to reinforce the load floor while the aluminum tailgate is damped. Utility and versatility are maximized with strong integrated tie-downs, under-rail bed lighting and an optional covered external power source.

To protect critical vehicle components while on the trail, including the fuel tank, transfer case and automatic transmission oil pan, Gladiator employs four skid plates and bars. Rubicon models benefit from the use of heavy gauge tubular steel rock rails to curtail potential body damage inflicted while out on the trail. Rubicon models also feature segment-exclusive rock rails for the bed corners.

Gladiator use the traditional five-link coil suspension configuration with the front suspension using a lateral control arm and four longitudinal control arms. Full-width track bars made of forged steel control lateral movement of the axle with minimal angle change during suspension travel.

The rear five-link coil suspension design, exclusive to Gladiator, features two upper and two lower forged steel control arms for longitudinal control, and a track bar for lateral axle control. The control arms are located under the frame rails while the rear shocks are forward facing to provide consistent damping for ride comfort and load management.

The springs have been tuned for balance between on-road handling while providing a comfortable ride around town, with or without cargo in the bed, and legendary off-road capability. Ride comfort, body-roll control, handling, payload and towing capability is significantly enhanced – it’s claimed – with assistance from shock tuning, hard points and body mount strategy.

An approach angle of 43.6 degrees, break-over angle of 20.3 degrees, departure angle of 26 degrees and a ground clearance of 11.1 inches allows Gladiator a wide choice of non-roads.

Gladiator also has up to 30 inches of water fording, up to 1,600 pounds of payload and up to 7,650 pounds of towing capacity with the available Max Towing Package.

The Jeep Gladiator, which offers more than 80 available active and passive safety and security features. Available features include Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection, forward-facing off-road camera, standard ParkView rear backup camera with dynamic grid lines, Adaptive Cruise Control and electronic stability control (ESC) with electronic roll mitigation.

There are three Uconnect systems – Uconnect 5-inch, 7-inch and 8.4NAV, with communication, entertainment and navigation features, including a full-color LED instrument cluster.

Gladiator is available with the Uconnect 7.0 or 8.4NAV systems and includes the new Apple CarPlay and Android Auto features.

Manufacturing
The all-new Jeep Gladiator is built in Toledo, Ohio, where Jeep vehicles have rolled off the assembly line since 1941. The new truck will make its production home in the south plant of the Toledo Assembly Complex, where the Jeep Wrangler JK was built until April 2018. The Toledo South Assembly Plant, or what has also been known as Toledo Supplier Park, was built in 2005 with supplier co-location concept where supplier partners build and manage key manufacturing process facilities completely within the plant “footprint.”

FCA US will use that same manufacturing system to produce the new Jeep truck, working with two of the original supplier partners. Kuka and Hyundai Mobis will supply the body and chassis, respectively. Production is expected to begin in the first half of 2019.

Manufacturing capacity for the new truck was created by moving production of the next-generation Jeep Wrangler to the north side of the Toledo Assembly Complex as part of a $4.5 billion industrialization plan to realign the Company’s U.S. manufacturing base to expand the Jeep and Ram brands. FCA US invested $700 million to retool the north plant and added more than 700 new jobs to support production of the new Wrangler.

Jeep Trucks

The 2020 Gladiator is the latest iteration of Jeep trucks that began back in 1947 when Willys Overland introduced a one-ton truck with four-wheel drive based on the CJ-2A. Gladiator is the latest in a long line of Jeep trucks that includes:

Jeep Pickup: 1947-1965
A 118-inch wheelbase pickup that realized few product changes. It was Willys-Overland’s first attempt to diversify the Jeep brand from the CJ.

Jeep FC-150/170 Pickup: 1957-1965
These Forward-Control series Jeep vehicles were work trucks – with an 81-inch wheelbase for the FC-150 and 103.5 inches for the FC-170. They received few changes during their lifecycle, though some 1959 and 1960 models featured full-floating front and rear axles, and some FC-170 models included dual rear wheels and a four-speed manual transmission.

Jeep Gladiator/J-Series Pickup: 1963-1987
Resembling the Wagoneer, Gladiator debuted in 1963 in either 120-inch (J-200) or 126-inch (J-300) form and featured a Dana 20 transfer case and Dana 44s front and rear. The Gladiator name was dropped in 1972.

Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler: 1981-1985
Introduced in 1981, the Scrambler was a Jeep like the CJ-7, but with a longer wheelbase. Known internationally as the CJ-8, it was available in either hard- or soft-top versions. Less than 30,000 Scramblers were built and are extremely popular among collectors today.

Jeep Comanche (MJ): 1986-1992
Based on the Cherokee platform and similarly equipped, the pickup received a six-foot bed in 1987. Later models offered Selec-Trac or Command-Trac four-wheel drive.

Mopar/Jeep Performance Parts

The Mopar brand will offer more than 200 new or redesigned Jeep Performance Parts and accessories for owners to personalize the all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator at launch. Mopar products will include active lifestyle, truck-capable accessories, such as tonneau covers and a spray-in bedliner, and performance content, such as lift kits, off-road lights, rock rails and wheels, as well as much more developed specifically for the new Jeep Gladiator.

Jeep Brand

The Jeep vehicle lineup consists of the Cherokee, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Renegade and Wrangler. To meet consumer demand around the world, all Jeep models sold outside North America are available in both left and right-hand drive configurations and with gasoline and diesel powertrain options.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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