At the risk of sounding like an old guy who talks about “the good ‘ole days,” I can’t help but think that 10 years ago the Jeep Gladiator concept pickup would have been produced without a second thought. Unfortunately, because of the the economic climate in the auto industry, the Gladiator is still in limbo. However, there are reasons that the Wrangler-based Gladiator, or something like it, might be on sale in 2009. Not since the Comanche in the early 90’s has Jeep offered a pickup, though pickups go all the way back to WWII with Jeep. It would be only natural that Jeep would get back into an area of production that is so inherently a part of its tough image. (Don’t even mention the Jeep Compass to me.)
A second factor favoring a 2009 Jeep Gladiator is the cost of production, which despite the absymal economy would be fairly easy to do, considering the truck would be essentially built on the Wrangler frame. Beyond the extended cab which has a small access door and the nearly 6 foot long cargo bed the concept is mostly Wrangler, so a 2009 Jeep Gladiator would be able to share suspension, brakes, steering, traditional part-time four-wheel drive, even the basic dashboard assembly from the Wrangler parts bin.
One added feature of the Gladiator is a Chevrolet Avalanche-esque panel that can be lowered to form an eight-foot 11-inch load deck with the tailgate down. The concept Gladiator has a throwback outside spare tire on the left side that I tend to see little use for. I think it would be better to leave it as an aftermarket option than to include it as standard feature. The concept’s interior has seats for four, and a simple and quite doable design that is not that far from what is already in Jeep showrooms.
The same could be said for the concept’s engine which is a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel. Of course, the Wrangler’s standard 3.8-liter gasoline V6, six-speed manual transmission and optional four-speed automatic would probably also be offered.
Some speculate that despite small trucks not being incredibly profitable on each individual sale that the Execs at Chrysler might see the Gladiator as another PT Cruiser; an initially hot selling vehicle that made up for its minimal profits by the sheer volume of vehicles sold. Plus the four-door Wrangler Unlimited has done better than expected and the shared look of the Gladiator is unique in the truck industry.
Gladiators, if made, are likely to be priced like the Wrangler Unlimiteds, which puts the base sticker range at roughly $21,000-$29,000.