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  • Writer's pictureAlain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

2020 Jeep Gladiator

Updated: Apr 4, 2021

This week we are reviewing the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Overland. Our vehicle was assembled at the Toledo Complex in the state of Ohio and has an MSRP of $62900.00 CAD

Fun Factor: 7

Off-Road: 9

Can it Family: 7

Fuel-Friendly: 5

HWY-warrior: 3

Karaoke Friendly: 7

Baby friendly: 7

City Cruising: 4

We were able to test the Jeep Gladiator Overland for 2 weeks in some of the harshest climates, on-road, off-road and on ice. Last year we tested back-to-back the previous generation and new generation of the Jeep Wrangler and saw the updates Jeep brought to the iconic Wrangler. We expected the Gladiator to be a Wrangler with a bed; while it may look as such, when it comes to driving dynamics, it's a different experience, especially off-road. Jeep made sure that the bed can flex when going off-road, giving it an agile body even with its 5.539-meter long body; however, the same feature can upset the pickup at high speed. When driving over potholes or road imperfections, it almost feels like you're losing control of the back end; the faster you go, the less precise the steering wheel becomes. This can be offset by adding some weight in the bed. Yes, it didn't help that the tires we had were not on-road tires and most people that will purchase the Gladiator aren't going to be racing down the HWY; they'll mainly use it on country roads perhaps to bring supplies to the cabin. We were happy to be in the Gladiator when mother nature decided to give us everything she had when it came to snow, for a moment we felt like being in the Millennium Falcon so poor the visibility was. That didn't stop the Gladiator getting us back in one piece over a 300km stretch where a couple SUV's visited the ditch. While we didn't enjoy the Gladiator as much on clean surfaces and we might get some heat for saying that from Jeep fans due to the loose steering, it felt quite enjoyable to toss around in 2WD when driving on ice or even in the snow. The Gladiator is equipped with what is in almost every FCA product today, a detuned version of the latest Pentastar. The V6 produces 285hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The model we tested had the 8-speed automatic that did a great job on the road and off the road. Naturally, the manual does give an additional edge to feel more connected to the vehicle. We ran to 100km/h from a still stand in 8.5 seconds while using winter tires in 4X4 high.

While we didn't have the full-blown Rubicon to go in the wild, the Overland did an excellent job off-road, in the snow, and whatever we found to throw at it. It never had any issues getting out of a pickle, we drove it up a 15% incline with a foot of snow around and a nice sheet of ice underneath and decided to stop in the middle of the hill to take pictures. While our kids felt uneasy with the task at hand, the Gladiator never shed a sweat. This was the only instance where the 4x4 low was quite handy. Otherwise, in most cases, the 4x4 high was sufficient to get it rolling. The Gladiator also comes equipped with both front and rear ventilated brakes for those summer escapades where they'll have to work overtime when the terrain gets ruff and knowing that they'll stop when you need them to. Overall the midrange Gladiator Overland will suffice for start off-roading and if you need to attack head-on Canadian winters.

Now the question on everybody's mind: can it also be used as a family vehicle? We can confirm that our family of 5 fits, while the back row is a little tight for 3 adult passengers daily; it can fit 3 children comfortably. The knee room is limited in the back row for taller people; for children, it will be fine. Visibility for the driver and passengers is good. Kids will love the view, as they sit high and the windows are wide, they will be able to observe everything around them. Getting in and out of the Gladiator can be somewhat awkward as the step is located a little high for taller adults, either knocking your knee when getting in or having to jump out when getting out. The front seats, although large, don't provide that much back support, but you'll be able to adjust them manually with controls on the sides. Our Overland version had heated seats, which were extremely warm and heated up quickly, even when exterior temperatures dipped below -30c. The same goes for the heated steering wheel.

You will find storage in the cabin under the rear seats for items you want to keep handy; the seats can also be folded to provide more interior storage. The main cargo space really is in the bed. It's similarly sized with competitor's midsize pickups such as Ford Ranger or Chevy Colorado that have a similar payload. In the case of the Gladiator, it can transport up to 1,140 lb and has a towing capacity of 6,000 lb as per Jeep. We were able to put 2 large strollers in the bed without any issues, getting them out after driving if they're not attached is a different story as they may move around if not using a bed liner as was our case. On the side of the Gladiator, you have a Step/Bumper that lets you get stuff out of the bed when needing to get stuff in the back of the bed.

Now for the fuel efficiency, we were surprised, we'd expect a large pickup to consume more than an SUV, this wasn't true with the Gladiator we averaged 14.0L/100km in the city, 11.5L/100km on the HWY for an average 12.8L/100km. Our average fuel consumption was done over a distance of 2000km; this included driving through a snowstorm, driving off-road, with temperature oscillating between -10c to -30c. The HWY fuel consumption is heavily dependent on the direction of the wind; we were able to get fuel consumption as low a 9L/100km on the HWY when keeping a constant speed around 100km/h. At the request of several of our readers, we will now add the CO₂ emissions of the vehicle we test and provide a comparison to competitors when possible. The CO₂ emissions of the Gladiator are on the higher spectrum with 296 g/km; these results come closer to a full-size pickup, while the Gladiator isn't class-leading it isn't the one with the most emission the midsize pickup category situates between 256 to 326 g/km. Jeep announces the following fuel economy 14.3L/100km in the city and 10.4L/100 on the HWY.

On the HWY, The Gladiator didn't perform as well as we hoped for; there's a lot of road noise getting into the cabin, making it hard to have a conversation. The steering is quite loose, added to its height; it makes it sensitive to strong winds, and if the bed is empty, people might question if you're driving sober. Joke aside, the Jeep Gladiator feels a lot more enjoyable on country roads or bad pavement, if you think of using the Gladiator mostly on the HWY, road-going tires will help a lot to enjoy a more balanced ride. What it has going for it is the great visibility all around, and during the summer, the top can be removed to experience the full Jeep lifestyle.

The Gladiator comes with an 8-speaker sound system, our vehicle was spec's with the optional Alpine sound system that sounded balanced with quite a lot of bass, EDM & Urban music lovers will rejoice. The Uconnect system that comes with the upgraded sound system is the 8.4-inch screen, which is maybe one of our favourites since it is user-friendly. In case you want full integration with your smartphone, it will be possible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Most daily commands have a physical button and a counterpart available in the touch screen and the climate control can be set up easily.

The installation of car seats is pretty straightforward; the ISOFIX ports are very visible and can be reached conveniently. Since the doors open quite wide, a variety of cars seat will fit in the back. The only difficulty we saw was with headrests getting in the way with booster seats and front-facing seats. Rear-facing seats have ample space to fit. You can easily fit 2 car seats in the back; this will, however, eat up the middle seat. In our configuration, we put the car seat in the middle to give our 2 daughters the most space possible, while this is the best option if a child still requires a car seat, those sitting on the outside have just enough room not to feel squished. The belt buckles will be challenging to reach in this configuration as they've been placed quite far to the middle for those 2 outer seats. Now for young children getting in and out of the pickup will need help opening the door, once that's done, everything inside is at their height, and the buckles are easy to reach if there's no car seat installed in the middle.

In the city, the length of the Gladiator makes it challenging to find a spot large enough to park, especially in tighter places, driving the Gladiator in 2WD is a must to gain the best possible turning circle. Luckily the parking camera of the Gladiator is of impressive quality to the point that we questioned ourselves why certain premium carmakers haven't jumped on the occasion to get a camera of such quality. It does help that the screen is large and has vivid colours. The only negative point we have to give it, is that you can see the bumper when in reverse when it could have been used to give an even wider angle view. In the city, we never needed to turn on the 4x4 system even in a snowbank. The massive stance of the Gladiator got us out of the snow with only the rear wheel pushing us out. While other car owners had to shovel out their cars, the Gladiator just pushed aside the snow as if it weren't there. Something all city dwellers hate are speed bumps; the Gladiator drives over them as if the pavement just had an imperfection, this also goes to actual imperfections in the road, they are smoothed out totally by the suspension.

Why would we buy the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Overland or what we like about it: Extremely fun off-road, good sounding sound system, comfortable ride those big wheels and suspension do an excellent job. It's a Jeep with a bed and a convertible in the summer what's not to like! An amazing community that offers more than a vehicle, it's a lifestyle with perks, and on the road, the friendliness of Jeep owners is renowned with their handwave.

Why we wouldn't buy the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Overland or what we didn't like about it: Lack of precision when it comes to steering, lots of road noise getting into the vehicle, the awkward position of the step to get into the vehicle.

Jeep has lent us this vehicle for two weeks as a press vehicle, we have no affiliation with FCA Canada, and the above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the vehicle referred above.

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