Clambering out of the Jeep Gladiator and realising that the front wheels are barely within the white lines of the parking lot, it’s hard to ignore a very simple reality about this vehicle: It’s a big-ass truck.
A little more than a year ago, I drove the new Jeep Wrangler. It may be classified as an SUV, but it’s one that’s fundamentally different from the majority of sports utility vehicles on the road.
The Wrangler jitters about on the highway, the cabin is unabashedly rugged and tough, and it just feels slightly out of place in a typical Singapore carpark.
But then, having spent some time with it, the Wrangler finally made sense: It fully embraces its unapologetic off-road character.
For buyers who want that experience, but demand even more, the new Jeep Gladiator might be it.
There’s no denying the iconic look of the Jeep Gladiator. Rugged, tough and instantly distinct, the Gladiator, much like its Wrangler sibling, cuts an immediately presence look on the road.
Inside, the cabin is pretty much similar to what you’ll find in the Wrangler, though there’s more legroom in the rear.
While there are a lot of plastics and hard materials used, all of it is entirely functional and practical, allowing you to hose down the whole car after a rumble through the mud.
And I must say that the level of quality feels high. While the materials are utilitarian and functional, they don’t feel cheap in any way.
That said, the Jeep Gladiator is more than a Wrangler with a flatbed at the rear. It is also a much longer vehicle, measuring in at a whopping 5561mm long. The flatbed is covered by the standard tonneau cover, but you can also specify an optional a three-piece modular hardtop.
TIME AND PLACE
In Singapore at least, the Jeep Gladiator is classified as a commercial vehicle by LTA.
It uses a G-plate rather than an S-plate and thus requires a Cat C COE. The vehicle also has to meet certain LTA restrictions.
At times, that can be frustrating. All commercial vehicles have to be fitted with a device that beeps when you exceed the restricted speed, and in the Jeep Gladiator, this is all too easy.
With 285hp and 347Nm of torque from the 3.6-litre V6 engine, acceleration is brisk and smooth. You soon find yourself crossing the 78km/h mark and the beeping begins.
It’s doubly frustrating because the Jeep Gladiator is capable of much more. At 78km/h – the highest speed I could cruise without any beeping – the car was only in seventh gear (there are eight total gears).
The trick, I found, is to use the cruise control function. After all, on highways you’ll almost certainly be going slower than the car ahead of you. And the Gladiator also comes with steel wheels instead of the cool Jeep alloys (another LTA requirement).
Beyond that, the Jeep Gladiator is mighty impressive to drive. It’s surprisingly refined and comfortable on the trot. Power is effortless, and you really feel high and mighty on the road.
And while I never got to try the car’s off-road capabilities, there is no doubt that this is a 4×4 beast. It’s a Jeep, after all. There are more off-road technologies in the Gladiator than I have apps on my iPhone.
Parking the thing is another matter, for you’ll have to choose where you drive it to. According to LTA’s Code of Practice for Vehicle Parking Provision, the minimum length of a parallel parking space is 5.4m.
The Gladiator is longer than that. So, parallel parking this beast is almost certainly out of the question unless you can get a corner lot. You should also think twice about parking in a small multi-storey carpark, too, because at least a fifth of the car is going to be sticking out of the space.
Driving the Gladiator is a complex experience. It’s an authentic Jeep off-roader that’s more than capable of handling any task thrown at it. It’ll carry your mountain bikes, kayaks, furniture, and hell, a whole mobile kitchen if you want.
The new 2020 Jeep Gladiator is, according to the carmaker, the most capable Jeep truck ever, and I don’t doubt that for a second. Its capabilities far exceed anything else in its price category.
While it’s certainly commercial in function, it never feels commercial (read: cheap) in terms of quality and usability.
But because it’s classified as a commercial vehicle in Singapore, the Jeep Gladiator is inevitably always going to run into some arbitrary restrictions.
Why would anyone buy a Jeep Gladiator, then?
Well, some people just think pick-ups are cool and for them, the Gladiator holds tremendous appeal. It combines capability and utility with ample on-road usability and comfort.
For others, it’s about style and function. The Jeep Gladiator, just like the Wrangler, captures a unique experience and aesthetic that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else in the market.
Yes, it’s niche, but owning a car like this is about much more than just transportation. It’s also a hobby, a passion and a way of life. Put simply, it’s fun and it’s different. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Jeep Gladiator Overland 3.6 (A)
ENGINE 3604cc, 24-valves, V6
MAX POWER 285hp (213kW) at 6400rpm
MAX TORQUE 347Nm at 4100rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 135.5hp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H Not available
TOP SPEED Not available
CONSUMPTION 9.3km/litre (combined)
PRICE EXCL. COE $175,999 (after $10k VES surcharge)
AGENT Chrysler Jeep Automotive of Singapore
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