2020 Jeep Gladiator Wins Another Award
The Jeep Gladiator is on a roll. First it won the prestigious North American Truck of the Year this week, now FOUR WHEELER Network just recognized Jeep’s truck with an award. FOUR WHEELER has chosen the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon as the winner of their 31st Annual Pickup Truck of the Year.
The 2020 Jeep Gladiator's Competition
The Gladiator was up against some stiff competition. The invitation-only competition is open to all-new or significantly updated pickup trucks for the 2020 model year. Pitted against the Gladiator were the Chevrolet Silverado Z71 1500 3.0L Duramax, Chevrolet Silverado 2500 6.6L, Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Z71 6.6L Duramax, GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 3.0L Duramax, GMC Sierra 2500 AT4 6.6L Duramax, GMC Sierra 3500 6.6L Duramax, Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, and Ram 1500 Rebel EcoDiesel.
“The new Jeep Gladiator is the truck many buyers have been waiting years for,” said FOUR WHEELER Editor Ken Brubaker. “After a week of testing in a variety of challenging environments the Gladiator proved that it is all truck and all Jeep, which is a formidable combination. Mix in the impressive Rubicon package that includes Tru-Lok differential lockers, Rock-Trac transfer case with 4:1 low range, front disconnecting stabilizer bar, and full skidplating, and it’s clear the Gladiator is at the front of the class.”
How Trucks Are Tested
Competing trucks are put through a series of tests. FOUR WHEELER began the competition in Los Angeles with ramp travel index (RTI) testing to gauge each vehicle’s suspension articulation. Following RTI testing, the trucks were driven to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, for track testing, including 0-60 and quarter-mile acceleration times, as well as 60-0 braking distance. According to FOUR WHEELER, following track testing, the vehicles were driven to the Southern California desert on paved roads. Judges included staff from various 4x4 brands including FOUR WHEELER, 4-WHEEL & OFF-ROAD, and JP MAGAZINE.
The next three days were spent primarily in a variety of off-road conditions, including sand, rocky trails, loose-surface trails, and snow. Testing included a loose-dirt hill climb and water crossings. Night driving was also integrated into the competition to gauge each vehicle’s lighting equipment.
The final day of testing included a long highway test section returning to the Los Angeles area, during which additional important highway data was gathered, including fuel economy, interior comfort, and on-road handling. The weeklong testing covered approximately 1,000 miles.
“When the Gladiator was first announced there was concern that it would be too much truck and not enough Jeep, or too much Jeep and not enough truck,” said MOTORTREND GROUP Content Director Sean P. Holman. “If anything, our testing has proven that Jeep has hit the sweet spot with the Gladiator, giving customers one of the finest off-road-capable midsize trucks on the market.”
Off-road, the Gladiator scored high marks due to its surefooted abilities. Judges appreciated the seamless way the off-road-centric features of the Rubicon package integrated with the truck’s inherent off-road capabilities, which culminated in a vehicle that excelled off-road. The Gladiator also impressed with its approach and departure angles, as well as the vast amount of underbody and exterior protection and ease of use and function of the locking differentials. The Gladiator’s suspension was tuned for on-road driving without compromising its outstanding off-road performance. Suspension flex on the trail helped the mud-terrain tires keep in contact with the trail when the going got tough.
Judges praised the 3.6L V-6 engine, noting that it provided ample power to propel the Gladiator over the toughest terrain or confidently up a long mountain grade. High marks were given to the Gladiator’s cargo bed, with judges noting that its design and function puts it on par with any pickup truck on the market. What’s not on par with any other pickup truck on the market was the Gladiator’s unique, specific features like the fun retractable soft top, which is a segment exclusive, that judges enjoyed both on- and off-road.
Scoring for the award included five weighted categories with 30 percent Trail Performance, 20 percent Empirical (RTI, acceleration, braking, price, and so on), 20 percent On Pavement (handling, ride quality, steering feel), 15 percent Interior (instrumentation, ingress and egress, seat comfort, storage), and 10 percent Exterior (appearance, stance, body protection).
FOUR WHEELER is part of the Motor Trend Group and has been a leading 4x4 authority since 1962.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. In addition to being a nationally syndicated automotive columnist, Jimmy has been published in a compilation book about children growing up with disabilities, where he shared his own very personal experience. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can find most of Jimmy's stories at Torque News Ford, where you can read daily Ford news stories from Torque News expert automotive reporters.