2020 Jeep Gladiator breaks cover, brings AEV Brute to production

Source: Jeep Gladiator Forum

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.

Source: Jeep Gladiator Forum

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!)
Source: Allpar

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.
2020 Gladiator — Source: Jeep Gladiator Forum

AEV Brute — Source: TFL Car

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.
Source: Jeep Gladiator Forum

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.

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23 responses to “2020 Jeep Gladiator breaks cover, brings AEV Brute to production”

  1. neight428 Avatar
    neight428

    FCA looked silly with all of the camouflaged test mules on this one. Everyone on earth that cared knew what it was going to look like.

    1. Ross Ballot Avatar
      Ross Ballot

      At this point I’m wondering a bit if it’s a way of deliberately ramping up anticipation and thus attention, and consequently build-in some effectively free marketing for an all-new model…

    2. Sjalabais Avatar
      Sjalabais

      It is a bit amazing how nothing about it shouts 2018. This could have been a 1975 model for all I know, at least when squinting.

  2. Harry Callahan Avatar
    Harry Callahan

    Let’s hope those front track bar mounts are welded securely……

    1. neight428 Avatar
      neight428

      It’s Fiat. Which means, with a new model, you’re part of the R&D team!

  3. Maymar Avatar
    Maymar

    I am in no way going to spend the $60k+ it would take to get such a thing, but I’m sort of excited to see the camper options that’ll become available for the Gladiator (and if I’m really optimistic, something more integrated like the Blazer Chalet).
    https://i0.wp.com/www.truckcamperadventure.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/fwc-brutephoto1.jpg?resize=716%2C468
    https://drivezing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Chevy-Blazer-Chalet.jpg

    1. Ross Ballot Avatar
      Ross Ballot

      I’m sure the overlanding community will take to this quite fondly…
      $60k is probably the range for a fully-loaded Rubicon. I’m thinking it will be a few grand more across the board than the Wrangler it’s based on.

      1. Maymar Avatar
        Maymar

        Oh, for sure – I’m estimating $45k for the Wrangler, and $15k for the camper.

    2. outback_ute Avatar
      outback_ute

      The removable roof certainly makes for interesting integrated camper options.
      I wonder if it will be possible to convert a JLU to a single cab (or even twin cab with tiny bed) using some of the Gladiator roof panels? I’m sure the aftermarket will soon supply what’s missing.

        1. outback_ute Avatar
          outback_ute

          Along those lines, but hopefully using some mass-produced parts it would be cheaper. I’d also just use half doors instead of changing side panels, on the basis it is a reconfigurable Lego machine that you could convert back for passenger duty if required. A drop in bed liner could work for creating a tougher floor.

  4. Zentropy Avatar
    Zentropy

    I wish I could be more excited about a Jeep pickup, but with the ridiculous overpricing of Wranglers these days, it’s just not something I think I can put faith in. I built my CJ-7 from a road-sign-patched heap that was being used as a doghouse– literally, inhabited by a dog the seller named “Fungus”. I loved my truck, once I cleared out the canine funk, but Wranglers these days are little more than image vehicles. For every one sold as a legitimate off-roader, nine never leave the pavement (unless the soccer tournament parking lot fills up). Too bad someone doesn’t offer a genuinely basic and affordable utility vehicle these days.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar
      Sjalabais

      For every one sold (…), nine never leave the pavement
      https://gifimage.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/hangover-math-gif-10.gif

      1. Zentropy Avatar
        Zentropy

        For every one sold as a legitimate off-roader, nine never leave the pavement. If that’s confusing, then:
        For every ten sold, one might be a legitimate off roader, but nine of them will never leave the pavement.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar
          Sjalabais

          Just poking you a little. Would love to see some actual usage stats though. Our eternal process of replacing our seven seater is in the same genre: How often do we need that 3rd row? Turns out, a fair bit, but would it work to take two cars at those occasions? There is money to be saved in the long run.

          1. Ross Ballot Avatar
            Ross Ballot

            I think I remember hearing it was something more like 98% don’t see dirt. Could be wrong, though. Don’t quote me on that.

          2. Zentropy Avatar
            Zentropy

            No, my original statement did sound a bit wonky– it deserved a poke of fun, and the gif is amusing.
            I’m not sure about actual stats, but where I live, literally no one takes them off-road. I’m sure if you asked most owners, they would reply “Oh yeah, we take it off-road once in a while”, even if its completely untrue. Many buy these things for the appearance, not the function, but they don’t want to seem like a poser.
            As for the third row, unfortunately we need it, and it rules out a lot of vehicles I want. We have three kids, and all are off the growth charts. I’d much rather be driving a station wagon than a minivan.

    2. danleym Avatar
      danleym

      When I bought my 02 TJ, the seller said he never wanted to know if I took it off road. It was definitely his prize mall crawler. It has since been wheeled a lot all over Colorado. I don’t get that mentality with something that was made to go off road.

      1. Zentropy Avatar
        Zentropy

        That’s my thought, too. The Jeep is compromised in many ways compared to other SUVs and crossovers, so why buy one for stellar off-road capability if you never intend to use it that way? It’s like these old dudes I see driving Corvettes at 10 mph below the speed limit. Just get a damned Buick, already. The whole concept of “appearances” with car purchases annoys me.

        1. Ross Ballot Avatar
          Ross Ballot

          Image.

  5. salguod Avatar

    Hell, the lines of the rear doors, the cabs, the beds– they all look near-identical.
    Sorry, I’m not seeing that. For the doors, well, each likely uses the rear doors from the Unlimited, unchanged, But as for the rear of the cab and bed, yes, they are both basically rectangles the same size, but the detailing is very different. Wide window on the Gladiator, narrow on the AEV. A recess in the top of the bed side and tailgate on the AEV, none on the Gladiator. Center tailgate on the Gladiator, two at the corners on the AEV. There’s a gentle arc to the top of the Gladiator tailgate which is missing from the AEV.
    The overall concept is the same (of course it would be), but the execution is certainly different.
    That said, I love the concept but I’m astounded at the prices on Jeeps now. The basic soft top, steel wheels, 2 door is $28K and a 4 door MOAB starts at $51K. Starts at $51K. I optioned one up to over $59K. Nuts.
    I had thought that I might one day add a cheap Wrangler to my stable but there really isn’t such a thing anymore, even used. Any Jeep under $5K is old and beat, probably rusty and with some significant mechanical issue. And if it doesn’t have one now, my understanding is that it will soon.

    1. Ross Ballot Avatar
      Ross Ballot

      I see what you’re saying, but remember that the Brute was a modified Wrangler, not a production vehicle. I’m sure the wide rear window is much easier with a different roll cage from what the Wrangler started with, and a tailgate is simple enough to change to match the styling of the vehicle it’s on. I’m not saying they’re perfectly identical…because they’re not…but it’s nearly exact enough to be more than just “they look similar.”
      And agreed on the price of the Wranglers. It’s astounding. And really puts a damper on the possibility of owning one. A 2-door Rubicon with a stick and soft top and no options is still ~$38k.

  6. Preludacris Avatar

    The 2004 concept was SO much cooler. Nice wheelbase and just enough bed.
    I see this thing more charitably when I look at it through the “Tacoma with solid front axle” lens than when I try to understand it as a “Wrangler truck.” It can articulate through rough terrain while carrying a large stinky dog in the back, or a couple of mountain bikes, so that’s cool. It’s just that I guess I thought it would be more trucky than this. I was envisioning something like a short wheelbase Power Wagon styled to look like a Wrangler from B-pillar forward.

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