Jeep Gladiator is Four Wheeler’s 2020 Pickup Truck Of The Year!
It's official! Four Wheeler's 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year winner is the Jeep Gladiator!
Four Wheeler, in publication since 1962, has been hosting Pickup Truck of the Year for 31 years and the annual event is an invitation-only competition that is only open to all-new or significantly revised pickup trucks for the upcoming model year. For 2020, the field of vehicles included 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.
"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. 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," says MotorTrend Group Content Director Sean Holman.
The road to winning Four Wheeler's 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year award was actually more of a rutted, rocky, snow-clogged two-track. Since Four Wheeler is the leading 4x4 authority, the majority of testing was done off-road in a variety of challenging terrains. Four Wheeler combined this extreme testing with track and on-road testing. The weeklong test covered approximately 1,000 miles.
The competition began in the Los Angeles area 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. Sophisticated electronic equipment was used to record each vehicle's 0-60 and quarter-mile acceleration times, as well as 60-0 braking distance. Following track testing, the vehicles were driven to the Southern California desert on paved roads. As was standard throughout the test, experienced judges rotated between vehicles on a regular basis, which provided equal testing time. Judges included staff from various brands within MotorTrend Group, including Diesel Power, Four Wheeler, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, Jp, and Truck Trend. The multi-hour drive to the desert allowed judges to gather important information on each vehicle's on-road manners in stop-and-go and open-highway driving. It also provided fuel efficiency data for this type of driving.
The next three days were spent primarily off-road. Each vehicle was driven by each judge in a variety of off-road conditions, including sand, rocky trails, loose-surface trails, and snow. The test also included a loose-dirt hillclimb and water crossings. This testing provided the judges with a wealth of information including each vehicle's off-road visibility from the driver seat, four-wheel-drive system selection and performance, tire performance and durability, engine power and cooling, transmission function and cooling, suspension tuning and performance, traction control system function, and much more. 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 new Jeep Gladiator is the truck many buyers have been waiting years for. During our week of testing we found that the Gladiator was worth the wait. The Gladiator proved that it is all truck and all Jeep, which is a formidable combination," says Four Wheeler Editor Ken Brubaker. "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."
Off-road, the Gladiator scored high marks with the 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year judges 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. High marks were earned by the Gladiator for its impressive 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. Judges were also impressed at how well the Gladiator's suspension was tuned for on-road driving without compromising the truck's outstanding off-road performance. Suspension flex on the trail was impressive, which kept the mud-terrain tires 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.
Prior to Pickup Truck of the Year testing, each judge was issued an official judging book, which included areas for the judges to grade vehicle criteria and log comments. With testing completed, the vehicle criteria data provided by the judges was combined with performance and other data to create a score for each vehicle. The scoring was weighted, prioritizing off-road performance. The five weighted categories included 30 percent Trail Performance, 20 percent Empirical (RTI, acceleration, braking, price, and so on), 20 percent On Pavement (handling, ride quality, steering feel, and so on), 15 percent Interior (instrumentation, ingress and egress, seat comfort, storage, and so on), and 10 percent Exterior (appearance, stance, body protection, and so on). When the calculations were complete, the Jeep Gladiator scored a decisive win and the title of 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year.
Stay tuned to fourwheeler.com for in-depth coverage of the 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year competition!