A longer wheelbase and a pickup bed aren't the only changes.
We recently spent some quality time with the new Jeep Gladiator out in California, where we put the off-roader through its paces. Our conclusion? It’s primarily a Jeep Wrangler with a bed, but we did point out some differences in handling, especially when tackling roads and trails less traveled. The folks at Edmunds took the Wrangler-versus-Gladiator comparison even further, showcasing a pair of Rubicon models that even wore the same coat of paint. The video above does an excellent job of not just explaining the changes, but visualizing them as well.
To nobody’s surprise, the Gladiator is pretty much a Wrangler from the doors forward. Nearly everything matches up, save for a different name scribed beneath the fender-mounted Jeep badge. Even the front approach angle of 44 degrees is the same, and of course, both models feature the familiar 3.6-liter, 285-horsepower (213-kilowatt) V6 engine under the hood. It’s at the back where things get interesting, and we aren’t simply talking about a five-foot cargo bed.
Gallery: Jeep Gladiator Versus Wrangler
For starters, the wheelbase on the truck is considerably longer and that has a negative effect on the Gladiator’s off-road capability. It’s plenty capable, but the shorter-wheelbase Wrangler has an easier time crawling over rough terrain. Traversing the same “easy” test course, the Gladiator scraped its frame quite badly in a few spots where the Wrangler hardly touched. The added length reduces the Gladiator’s departure angle as well – 26 degrees versus 37 degrees in the Wrangler.
Those differences are well-known, but the video also chronicles some interesting details many people might miss. For example, the Gladiator is fitted with Fox shocks and Falken off-road tires, compared to the Wrangler’s generic shocks and BFGoodrich rubber. The Gladiator’s rear suspension is also equipped with different links, and the shocks are mounted forward instead of rearward on the Wrangler. This helps the Gladiator distribute loads more evenly across the frame, and combined with stronger wheels and upgraded rear brakes, it’s why the truck has double the towing capacity versus the Wrangler.
Check out the video for all the details and to see how these differences play out in the real world.
Source: Edmunds via YouTube
Listen to the Motor1.com U.S. Podcast episode on the Jeep Gladiator: