Jeep Gladiator crushes it in LA

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It's been a long time coming, but a pickup truck is finally returning to the Jeep stable after being without for more than 25 years.

With its four doors, and a five-foot bed, the Gladiator is 31 inches longer than a four-door Wrangler.

Sales of smaller pickups have surged in the past few years, and Fiat Chrysler, with its Jeep and Ram brands, hasn't had a dog in the fight since it discontinued the Dodge Dakota in 2011. The 3.6-litre V6 petrol unit is rated at 210kW of power and 350Nm of torque and will be available with both a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. And the vehicle with the highest towing capacity (the Sport Max Tow at 7,650 pounds) has a 1,535-pound payload capacity and the highest gross combined weight rating at 12,800 pounds (that's the one we want to test first).

After a almost 14-year tease of just-over-the-horizon promises and someday-soon product plans, Jeep showed the first production pickup to carry the brand's name in a generation: the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. Unlike the gas engine, the diesel will only be offered with an eight-speed automatic. While the face of the Gladiator and Wrangler are similar, each grille opening is slightly larger for additional cooling to allow the ute to tow up to 3500kg. It also offers Tru-Lock locking differentials as standard equipment. The Rubicon can run up to 35-inch rubber with no lift, be equipped with a forward camera capable of showing anything that's less than two feet in front of the truck and be outfitted with a front, winch-ready steel bumper.

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The Gladiator has a 43.6 degree approach angle, 20.3 degree breakover and 26 degree departure angle, as well as 28cm of ground clearance which is enough for 76cm wading depth. That's no joke, either, Jeep aiming the vehicle at "mundane fearing millenials", those with "an appreciation of capability" and who like to get out there.

The Wrangler, designed for serious off-road driving, is already engineered like a truck rather than like a tall auto, as most SUVs are these days. It will also have covered external power outlets. The sides of the bed box were left low on objective for easy reach in to load or unload items. For a more premium feel, Overland models receive wrapped instrument panels with accent stitching. As per the Wrangler, you'll be able to fold down the windscreen, for the mud in the face experience off-road.

We've heard rumors about a Wrangler pickup for years, and in its absence a handful of aftermarket outfits have made a tidy sum selling conversion kits for existing four-door Jeeps. The rear seas, meanwhile, can be folded flat - with LED lights illuminating the storage space opened up that way - but can also be locked into place to make for secure storage behind the seat back. A 7.0- or an available 8.4-inch touchscreen houses the fourth-generation Uconnect system and sits prominently atop the center stack. An optional lockable bin provides safe storage even when the roof and doors are removed, or the windshield is lowered.

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