It's an early-build, internal-use vehicle for FCA to monitor quality control.
Update: A Jeep spokesperson informed us that while this is technically a production model, it's not destined for dealerships. This Gladiator is slated for internal use as part of the quality control process. Here's the full statement:
On Monday, March 18, the Toledo Assembly Complex began building Jeep Gladiators that are marked for internal company use. This is a normal part of the launch cadence of any new vehicle in order to verify build quality before volume production begins. Production of customer vehicles has not yet started. We know there is a lot of excitement surrounding the launch of the new Gladiator, but our first priority is to ensure that we are building the highest quality vehicles our customers demand. We will launch when we know we can meet those expectations.
The spokesperson didn't comment on when Gladiator sales might begin, but there's been no indication thus far that it will fall beyond the automaker's generalized timeframe of Q2 2019. See the original article below.
We still don’t know exactly how much the all-new Jeep Gladiator will cost, but that’s not stopping the assembly line from spitting out production models. The folks over at Jeep Gladiator Forum are clued into the goings on at Jeep’s Toledo plant, where they report the first production Gladiator has rolled off the line. Photos and videos of the event showing a silver Rubicon soon followed.
We shot a message to Jeep for official confirmation that this is the number one production model; we will update if we get new information.
There hasn’t been much in the way of new production information since the Gladiator officially debuted late last year at the Los Angeles Auto Show. We know through Jeep’s Gladiator configurator that it will be available in four trim levels, including Sport, Sport S, Overland, and a range-topping Rubicon model like the one featured here. Jeep says the Gladiator offers best-in-class towing with a maximum rating of 7,650 pounds, though presumably, that doesn’t include the diesel-powered Chevrolet Colorado which claims an ever-so-slightly higher 7,700-pound capability.
Similarly, Jeep says the Gladiator offers best-in-class payload capacity at 1,600 pounds, though Ford also claims that title with its new Ranger, which can carry 1,860 pounds in two-wheel-drive trim. The Gladiator is only available with four-wheel drive, so yeah, there are plenty of hairs getting split in this midsize truck segment.
One thing neither midsize truck can do, however, is remove its top and fold down the windshield. The Gladiator also dishes up some cool off-road features like an electronically operated sway bar disconnect system for better suspension movement in rocky terrain, not to mention its Rock-Trac 4x4 system with a very tight 4LO ration of 4:1. Paired with a 285-horsepower (212-kilowatt) V6 engine and a choice of either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic, the Gladiator should be quite capable off-road.
The big question now is when the Gladiator will actually go on sale. Jeep has stuck with its promise of sometime in the second quarter of this year, and with production models now alive and well, we expect pricing details and a tighter on-sale date coming very soon.