2020 Jeep Gladiator breaks cover, brings AEV Brute to production
One of the most anticipated reveals of recent automotive times has been leaked ahead of its LA Auto Show debut, and it finally lets us rest our eyes on the upcoming pickup of many folks’ four-by-four dreams.
Here it is: the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. In its most basic description it’s exactly what you’d expect: a Wrangler Unlimited shod with a bed. But it’s more than that, and it promises the company’s legendary off-road heritage with a good dose of hauling-and-towing capability. For many, it will be the perfect do-it-all truck, and for Jeep it will be the perfect competitor to trucks the likes of the Tacoma, Colorado/Canyon, and upcoming Ranger. In a growing segment, the Gladiator cannot come soon enough, and now we finally know what it will truly look like (though didn’t we all along…?).
So, finally, Wrangler capability with a pickup bed. I suspect that some kind of development was shared with a little company by the name of AEV, and there’s plenty more to unpack here from what are the first “official” unofficial pictures of Jeep’s new cash printing machine. Hit the jump with me and let’s dissect what there is to make of things.
So what can be deduced from the leaked images and info?
My initial thoughts are such: yes. Yes, yes, yes. As a whole, it delivers on exactly what has been in everyone’s imagination all along. It offers pickup capability with rock crawling off-road capability in a way and capacity we have yet to see in a production vehicle, and it offers towing-and-hauling capability in a way and capacity we have yet to see a production off-roader as good as the Rubicon offer. It matches work and play exactly as you think it would, and delivers on the looks and roofless promises the Wrangler it’s based on has come to be known for.
That said, this is a work and pickup-duty-heavy vehicle relative to its Wrangler cousin, not one meant with off-road as its primary purpose. Yes: of course it’ll be able to wheel, and likely better than its competitors in most circumstances that aren’t high-speed desert romping. But the extra-long wheelbase (it looks to be in the range of the Double/Crew Cab Tacoma/Colorado with the long beds) will compromise its off-road ability in maneuverability, breakover angle, and so on. It looks enormous, easily 12-18” longer than the 188” long Wrangler Unlimited, but not so disproportionate that it seems like it was designed wrong.
Will we see a single-cab, long-bed version? I wouldn’t bet on it; at this point such a high percentage of Wranglers are of the Unlimited variant that Jeep would probably have to sell a high portion more to recoup development costs. Not to mention, single cab offerings today are almost nonexistent due to lack of demand, so Jeep is probably taking the wise route by sticking to the four-door configuration. Still, a single-cab (or even access-cab) long-bed layout using the JLU’s frame would be pretty damn sweet, and if you need any more proof I’ll once again bring up the 2004 Gladiator Concept. (An aside: 2004! It’s been almost 15 years since we first started talking about this!)
As for the bed itself, it looks very much like that of the AEV Brute, which was a pickup based on the Wrangler. Hell, the lines of the rear doors, the cabs, the beds– they all look near-identical. In fact, I’m thinking that there was some shared design, which is supported by the company’s Instagram post reading, “Looks very familiar.” And with AEV having just started working with GM to build the ZR2 Bison, it’s not too far of a stretch to think AEV may have had a hand in the design given their experience with a Wrangler-based pickup. Or, maybe they shared development costs a long while back and we were clueless all along as to Jeep running mules around in front of our eyes. Perhaps they shared tooling, or AEV sold it to Jeep/FCA now that the Brute is out of production? Regardless, I have a hunch that they were working together.
Now, obviously we don’t know for certain what the mechanical specifics are for the Gladiator. It’s extremely likely that the 3.6L Pentastar will be the base motor and the 2.0L Hurricane turbo four-cylinder will be the step-up option. The much-rumored prophecy of the 3.0L Ecodiesel will hopefully make an appearance as a high-ticket option, likely paired with the ZF 8-speed that both of the other motors will come with. Will the 6-speed manual be available? Sure hope so. Regardless, this truck could really use the 5.7L Hemi, as that would make for a properly awesome match-up.
One other interesting bit is that from the leaked photos, it appears that Falken will get the tire job on the Gladiator. Rather than the BFG Mud Terrains and All-Terrain KO2s that were (and are) standard on the JK and JL Rubicon, it looks like the Wildpeak M/T and A/T3W will take the slots for mud and all-terrains. An interesting choice, one I’ll keep an eye on so as to see how buyers like the not-as-popular-and-trendy brand name tires. Gladiator-specific wheels seem to be present too, but it could be that they’re going to be available on all 2020 model year Wranglers as well.
It’s pretty freakin’ cool, seeing a production pickup with front/rear electronic lockers and a removable roof. And I’m a sucker for the name: it evokes heritage and bravado, an energy and gusto most names don’t have. The Jeep Gladiator is finally here, and it’s a vehicle that will certainly add fuel to the fire that is the midsize truck market. I personally can’t wait to see it out on the streets– and especially on the trails. Given its credentials, this truck should put everyone on notice, and should work to boost Jeep sales even further. It’s a hell of a good truck in the making.