April 17, 2024
Wheels

Midsize Gladiator offers huge off-road capability

Jeep’s pickup delivers performance with utilitarian cabin

The 2024 Gladiator Mojave pickup delivers impressive off-road capability with a distinct Jeep look.

The 2024 Jeep Gladiator has seen some changes that further elevate it to being the most capable off-road midsize truck on the market. Whether it’s the addition of the iconic 7-slot grille up front, the addition of power seats and standard side-curtain airbags, or the new standard 12.3-inch Uconnect touchscreen radio, there’s a lot to like about the new Gladiator.

Available in Sport, Willys, Mojave, and Rubicon models, the 2024 Gladiator continues its annual evolution with the addition of even more capability, interior refinement, better technology, and more standard safety features. Ranked No. 1 for new vehicle quality among midsize trucks in the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Initial Quality Study*, Gladiator offers an unmatched combination of towing capability and best-in-class 4x4 payload.

Jeep looks

The Gladiator’s front end features the iconic seven-slot grille with black textured slots, neutral gray metallic bezels, and body-color surround (gloss black slots and bezels on Willys). Slimmer in size, the new grille’s black textured vertical slots improve engine cooling. A trail-ready stealth antenna integrated into the front windshield replaces the previous steel mast antenna, streamlining the Gladiator’s appearance and eliminating brush or tree limb snags on the trail. Gladiator offers owners a wide selection of wheels with seven new standard and optional designs, including tire sizes ranging from 32 to 33 inches.

“The new 2024 Jeep Gladiator epitomizes the power of the Jeep community and how it continues to push for greater capability, advanced technology and more refinement,” says Jim Morrison, senior vice president and head of Jeep brand North America. “The new Gladiator makes the best even better, with a more advanced and comfortable interior with a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen and available power seats tested for water fording, more safety and technology, including standard side-curtain airbags, and a fresh exterior with a new seven-slot grille, seven new wheel designs, and a windshield-integrated trail-ready antenna.”

Combine all of that with its folding windshield, three roof choices, two different door options, or taking the doors off altogether, and Gladiator is the only truck in the market capable of open-air driving while delivering the capability of a pickup.

Every Gladiator model’s Trail Rated or Desert Rated badge reflects an unmatched spec list that includes Dana 44 heavy-duty front and rear axles, two-speed transfer case, traction control, tow hooks (two front, up to two rear), four-wheel disc brakes, three skid plates and a minimum tire size of 32 inches.

Powertrain

The Jeep Gladiator’s proven 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine delivers 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque and features engine stop-start as standard equipment. It is engineered to provide a broad torque band with a focus on low-end torque, essential for off-roading, hauling heavy loads, or towing a trailer.

For off-road enthusiasts who love a manual transmission, a 6-speed manual transmission is standard, and an 8-speed automatic transmission is optional. With the standard 6-speed manual transmission, Gladiator boasts an impressive best-in-class crawl ratio of up to 84:1. With the optional 8-speed automatic transmission, Gladiator offers a crawl ratio of up to 77:1.

Body-on-frame design

Using a body-on-frame design and featuring a finely engineered five-link suspension system, the new 2024 Gladiator delivers capability with on-road dynamics. The use of lightweight, high-strength aluminum closures, including the doors, door hinges, hood, fender flares, windshield frame, and tailgate, helps reduce weight and boost fuel economy. A steel bed uses four steel cross-members to reinforce the load floor while the aluminum tailgate is damped for safe and secure action. Utility and versatility are maximized with strong integrated tie-downs, under-rail bed lighting, and an optional covered external power source.

Suspension

Gladiator’s front suspension features two upper and two lower high-strength steel control arms for longitudinal control and a cross-car track bar for lateral axle control. The five-link rear suspension features a similar layout to the front suspension, with two upper and two lower high-strength steel control arms for longitudinal axle control and a track bar for lateral axle control.

The shocks are tuned for optimum balance between on-road handling and legendary off-road capability, delivering ideal ride comfort, body-roll control, and dynamic handling.

The 2024 Jeep Gladiator starts out at about $40,000 for the base Sport trim with a manual transmission. If you want the automatic transmission, add another $2K.

• John Stein is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. He has more than 25 years of experience driving, testing, and writing about the automotive industry, its latest innovations, and vehicles.