The bakkie segment in South Africa has welcomed a new member in the form of the Jeep Gladiator which the American marque deems as the most capable Jeep pickup ever.

Built on the rich heritage of rugged SUVs, the new Jeep Gladiator launches in SA with an advanced fuel powertrain, on- and off-road dynamics plus a host of safety and technology features.

Jeep Gladiator Rubicon RED Action Sideview

Only one model derivative is available in South Africa.

Modern Design

Following the same maturity recipe of Jeep’s latest product, the Gladiator Rubicon spawns the same iconic seven-slot front grille but is widened for additional air intake. For aerodynamic purposes, the top of the keystone-shaped grille is swept back.

On the front end, the Gladiator Rubicon has LED headlamps, daytime running lights, fog lamps and indicators places on the front of the trapezoidal wheel flares. The rear is bolstered with the same LED square taillight clusters we’ve been accustomed to in other Jeep products as well as a power-locking tailgate.

Jeep Gladiator Rubicon RED Road Front and Sideview

The load bin is fitted with under-rail bed lighting, integrated tie-down points plus a Trail Rail Clever functionality for versatility. Under the bed lies a full-size spare tyre and mount capable of holding up to a 35-inch tyre.

The Gladiator’s load bed is lined with a special scratch-resistant layer and a roll-up rigid loading cover. There is also a four-bolt design at the top of the windshield’s frame for the windscreen to fold down quickly and easily.

There are lightweight, high-strength aluminium doors that feature the Torx bit size stamped directly onto the hinge to eliminate guessing which size bit is needed to remove the doors. A tool kit with the necessary Torx bits to remove the doors and lower the windscreen is provided as standard equipment. 

Gladiator also features body-colour sport bars, which are welded to the body and feature integrated grab handles for front occupants.

A premium Sunrider soft top provides an easy open-air option. The soft top features retainers that slide into a track for easy rear window removal. There is also a black three-piece hardtop which offers even more options for open-air driving. The two Freedom panels and quick-release latches enable a fast removal and installation of the hardtop. The hardtop features a manual rear-sliding window.

Jeep Gladiator Rubicon RED Soft-top

For those adventure days, there are dozens of different door, top and windshield combinations.

Interior

As for the interior, the new Jeep Gladiator features climate and volume control knobs, media charging and connectivity ports, and an Engine Stop-Start button. There is a 7-inch thin-film transistor information LED display and an 8.4-inch touchscreen that houses the fourth-generation Uconnect system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

The interior further features two USB ports and a USB-C port up front and two for the rear passengers. Buyers of the Gladiator can upgrade to audio upgrades which come courtesy of a subwoofer and portable wireless speaker located behind the rear seat.

Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Interior Seats

The inboard and outboard circular HVAC vents are trimmed in a platinum chrome bezel.

Engine and Transmission

Power for the new Jeep Gladiator Rubicon comes from a 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine that delivers 209 kW of power and 347 Nm of torque.

Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Engine

The engine is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission as well as a standard Selec-Speed Control which manages vehicle speed in ‘4LO’ while traversing off-road terrain without requiring throttle or brake input. The Selec-Speed Control is activated using a button on the dashboard and can be adjusted from 1-8km/h by using the AutoStick shift control.

Angles and Capacities

The Jeep Gladiator has an approach angle of 43.6 degrees, break-over angle of 20.3 degrees, departure angle of 26 degrees, ground clearance of 249 mm to the rear diff and up to 800 mm of water fording.

Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Wheels

It can tow up to 2,721 kg and 693 kg 4×4 payload capacity.

Safety

In the safety department, the Gladiator comes with more than 80 available active and passive safety and security features these include but are not limited to blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, standard ParkView rear backup camera with dynamic grid lines, adaptive cruise control and electronic stability control with electronic roll mitigation.

Pricing and Warranty

The new Jeep Gladiator Rubicon carries a price tag of R1,259,900 and that includes a  3yr/100,000 km Maintenance Plan and a  5yr/100,000 km Warranty Plan.

Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Topview

Verdict

As a country where bakkies tend to get the first preference, the new Jeep Gladiator Rubicon allows owners to enjoy the adventure and utility lifestyle of the Wrangler further giving customers a great deal of both in one simple package.

What We Like: Adventurous, capable, out of the norm

What We Don’t Like: Only a single-engine choice on offer

Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Interior