Jeep unveiled its Gladiator concept pickup at the Detroit auto show, bringing to light what many enthusiasts hope is a indication of things to come from the brand. In addition to having unmistakable classic Jeep styling, strongly influenced by the Wrangler and CJs of the past, the truck is equipped with all the requisite hardware that Jeep enthusiasts look for. The powertrain mates the 2.8L four-cylinder turbodiesel from the Liberty CRD to a six-speed manual transmission. The truck also features front and rear locking differentials, and of course, a proper two-speed NVG231 transfer case.
Taking a cue from the Chevy Avalanche, the Gladiator features an expandable bed that is four feet wide, and can expand lengthwise from a compact 5 feet, 8 inches to 6 foot, 8 inches with the midgate expanded, and ultimately to 8 foot, 11 inches with the midgate expanded and tailgate down, for those trips to the lumberyard for the proverbial 4x8 sheets of plywood.
From a functional standpoint, the Gladiator strikes a balance between off-road capability, and brute workhorse capacity, offering a 1,500-pound payload capacity, while retaining coil springs at all four corners, unusual for a pickup truck. Jeep claims a ground clearance of 13.7 inches, a break-over angle of 23.2 degrees and an approach/departure angle of 47.6 /38.0 degrees, respectively.
Dimensionally, the Gladiator is solidly in the mid-size category, with an overall length of 205 inches, a wheelbase of 138.4 inches, and width and height of 76.6 and 74.8 inches, respectively. Tipping the scales at 4,150 pounds, the Gladiator is no lightweight, but about on par with other midsize trucks in its class. One wonders if the Hemi would fit under the hood as an upgrade engine.
Will the Gladiator ever leave the glow of convention-center lights for the light of day? DaimlerChrysler officials are staying mum about the possibility, but seeing that most of the hardware on the concept is off-the-shelf stuff from the corporate parts bin, and nothing on the vehicle looks particularly outlandish or impractical, the chances are as good as any. And of the big three, DCX traditionally has one of the best track records of putting concepts on the showroom floor. We hope the tradition continues with the Gladiator.