With the enemy gathering at the gates, Fort Jeep townsfolk have sent out a Gladiator to
challenge the would-be intruders. And this warrior turns out to be one of the toughest,
smartest, most accomplished members of the Rubicon cohort.

While the opposition, which includes the Toyota HiLux Rogue, Ford Ranger Raptor X,
Nissan PRO-4X Warrior and Isuzu D-Max have all put on airs and graces, the
Wrangler-based Gladiator Rubicon comes fit for any dirty arena fight.

Standing alone among this mob, the Jeep dual cab utility can be stripped down to bare
bones by the removal of roof sections, doors and even the windscreen. Not that it’s
short on the finer things of off-roading such as a handy 249 mm of ground clearance.

The Gladiator is a pick-up or cab chassis 4×4 built in United States, with prices starting
at $78,250, plus on-road costs, for the entry-level Night Eagle and jumping to $87,250
for the Rubicon.

Warranty is five years or 100,000 kilometres at intervals of 12 months or 12,000
kilometres, whichever comes first. Capped price servicing is on offer too.

At first glance there is no doubting the Gladiator Rubicon’s pedigree. From the seven-
slot radiator grille to the exposed bonnet latches and twin air vents it’s a Jeep through
and through.

The squared off cabin takes up a typical Wrangler story, with the addition of a factory-
fitted lined steel tub, with damped opening tail gate, Trail Rail tie-down load loops and a
range of tonneau covers, including a powered automatic version. The tail gate is linked
to the central locking system of the dual cab and the cargo area is well lit for easy
access in the dark.

A steel off-road rear bumper, rock rails under both the cab and bed and more are
designed to protect the underbody in rough going. A set of 17-inch Granite Crystal alloy
wheels is standard on Rubicon, adding to the pick-up’s assertive street and off-road

The spacious cabin, kitted out in quality materials, including, in the case of the test
vehicle, black leather upholstery with Rubicon Red Stitching, embroidered seatback,
platinum chrome bezels and a fair share of red metallic highlights. As for dancing in the
dust (or mud), things are brought down to earth with the addition of rubber mats.

Comfort is enhanced by heated front seats and steering wheel, together with dual zone
climate control air-con. The cabin does have its ‘Jeepish’ quirks, such as the lack of
curved surfaces (squares and rectangles dominate) and a crowded centre stack with a
mix of knobs and switches topped off by a high-set 8.4-inch touchscreen.

Gear is kept safe and secure with lockable storage in the rear seating area. Lifting up
the rear seat reveals a removable bin. The seatback folds down for access to more
secure space illuminated with LED lights.

The 8.4-inch Jeep Uconnect touchscreen, small by today’s standards, is rescued by the
clarity of its display of info, including sat nav maps, access to Apple CarPlay and
Android Auto, an Alpine nine-speaker sound system, digital radio, and steering-wheel-
mounted audio buttons.

Two speakers are situated in a beam arching over the cab between front and rear
seats, so they are still operational with the roof panels removed. Bush dance partakers
note, in a compartment behind the driver’s seat is a self-charging removable Bluetooth

Power is provided by Jeep’s ubiquitous Pentastar 3-litre 209 kW / 347 Nm V6 petrol
engine and sent to ground via an eight-speed automatic transmission and part-time
four-wheel drive, with low range on call in tough going.

The three-star (out of five) safety rating is below par due to the lack of lane keeping and
departure warning, and the absence of pedestrian and cyclist emergency braking.

The Gladiator does have forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot
monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking and electronic stability

With 249 mm ground clearance getting into and out of the Gladiator is quite a tall order
for anybody of average height or below. Grab handles back and front come into
welcome play with each manoeuvre. Single-stage opening doors are not at their best in
tight shopping centre car parks.

On moving off, from the word go, the pick-up responded instantly to accelerator action,
resulting in a firm push in the back. The transmission delivered smooth transport of
power to the road, accompanied by the hum of standard 255/75 R17 off-road tyres.

Jeep claims a combined urban / highway fuel consumption of 12.4 litres per 100
kilometres. Best on test was 8.4 litres per 100 kilometres under low load at motorway
cruising speed. Town trips accounted for up to 14 litres per 100 kilometres.

A skinny foot well and the absence of a left footrest could cause some driver instability
during tough going off road. It’s a letdown, especially with the Gladiator’s trail-rated tag
with reference to its Rubicon test results.

The suspension, however, is up for almost anything. Up front its coil spring, stabiliser
bar, gas pressure shock, leading arm, track bar solid axle and link coil doing the work,
while at the rear there’s a trailing arm.

The Trail Rated Jeep Gladiator features a high air intake and special water sealing to
help fording creeks at depths of up to 760mm. Braked towing maximum is put at
2721kg and an unbraked towing capacity of 750 kg.

While today’s pick-up truck arena has no shortage of combative talent on show, the
Gladiator Rubicon has the chops to knock off any off-road challenger. And, like it or not,
you’ll definitely stand out from the crowd.

Looks: 8/10
Performance: 6/10
Safety: 4/10
Thirst: 5/10
Practicality: 8/10
Comfort: 7/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 6/10

Jeep Gladiator Night Eagle $78,250
Jeep Gladiator Rubicon $87,250
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Jeep dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 3.6L V6 petrol, 8sp automatic, 4WD)

Capacity: 3.604 litres
Configuration: Six cylinders in ‘V’
Maximum Power: 209 kW @ 6400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 347 Nm @ 4100 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded petrol, 95RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 12.4 L/100km
CO2 emissions 288 g / km

DRIVELINE: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive

Length: 5591 mm
Wheelbase: 3488 mm
Width: 1894 mm
Height: 1909 mm
Turning Circle: 13.6 metres
Gross vehicle mass: 2935 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 83 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Disc
Five years / 100,000 kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *