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Can the Jeep Gladiator Tow?

Testing the new Jeep pickup against the competition.

Ever since the 2020 Jeep Gladiator was first introduced. there has been one question that we've heard over and over again: Can the Jeep Gladiator tow? Put the simplest way, yes. While Wrangler has had a fairly low tow rating for decades, Gladiator shows its truck toughness in how much it's rated to haul.

For 2020, Gladiator launched with one engine and two transmission options. A 3.6L V-6 engine is backed by either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine makes 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This is important because towing and payload ratings fluctuate based on transmission choice. All Gladiator pickups are four-wheel drive.

Also important is trim level. The 2020 Gladiator is offered in seven different trims: Sport, Sport S, Overland, North Edition, Rubicon, Mojave, and High Altitude. Towing and payload ratings also change based on the trim package selected. The highest towing and payload figures are found on the lightest vehicles, which in this case are the Sport and Sport S trims. Heavier, more optioned models such as Rubicon and Mojave, will have lower ratings.

Let's dive in and have a look at some of the nuts and bolts of towing with a 2020 Jeep Gladiator.

Jeep Gladiator Towing Capacity

For the sake of towing capacity, Jeep rates only the Sport, Overland, Rubicon, and Mojave trims. Sport S will fall in line with Sport, while North Edition and High Altitude will follow Overland's specs. The highest tow rating for a Gladiator is 7,650 pounds, which is achieved with a Sport or Sport S trim, automatic transmission, and Max Tow package that includes 4.10:1 axle gears. Overland and Mojave trims both max out at 6,000 pounds, while Rubicon can haul up to 7,000.

Sport & Sport S

Manual Transmission - 4,000 pounds
Automatic Transmission: 4,500 pounds
Automatic Transmission (with Max Tow): 7,650 pounds

Overland

Manual Transmission: 4,000 pounds
Automatic Transmission: 6,000 pounds

Mojave

Manual Transmission: 4,500 pounds
Automatic Transmission: 6,000 pounds

Rubicon

Manual Transmission: 4,500 pounds
Automatic Transmission: 7,000 pounds

Jeep Gladiator Payload Capacity

Towing is only half of the equation for a pickup owner. Hauling gear in the bed is arguably just as or even more important than towing for most owners. Payload capacity, as it's called, is derived by subtracting the vehicle's curb weight from its gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Gladiator, in Sport trim with a manual transmission, can haul up to 1,700 pounds of cargo. Interestingly, the truck with the lowest payload rating, at just 1,105 pounds, is the Sport with an automatic transmission.

Sport & Sport S

Manual Transmission: 1,700 pounds
Automatic Transmission: 1,105 pounds
Automatic Transmission (with Max Tow): 1,535 pounds

Overland

Manual Transmission: 1,140 pounds
Automatic Transmission: 1,120 pounds

Mojave

Manual Transmission: 1,200 pounds
Automatic Transmission: 1,200 pounds

Rubicon

Manual Transmission: 1,200 pounds
Automatic Transmission: 1,160 pounds

Jeep Gladiator Towing and Hauling Tested

During Truck Trend's 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year test, we had the chance to put the Jeep Gladiator to the test while towing a 5,000-pound trailer. The weight was our standard for the midsize truck class, and the vehicle was a Sport S with an automatic transmission and Max Tow package. We tested the truck empirically on a quarter-mile track, and subjectively towing up a tough 6-percent grade. Even with a 20-foot trailer in tow, the Gladiator was unflappable. It towed straight with not even the slightest hint of unacceptable sway. The Gladiator had plenty of power to ascend the grade and adequate brakes for coming back down. Our biggest complaint was found in the lack of a trailer brake controller, even with the Max Tow package added.

Using the same truck, we unhooked the trailer and loaded it down with 1,300 pounds of payload (the truck is rated for 1,535 pounds, and we adjusted for an additional passenger). Hauling this much weight left us feeling a bit uneasy about the Gladiator's handling ability. While the truck had plenty of power to accelerate and great brakes for stopping, the suspension became quite unsettled during panic maneuver testing. Something as simple as a stiffer rear anti-roll bar would make a world of difference. Even still, the average owner will haul far less weight (for example, two off-road motorcycles weigh about 600 pounds combined, with gear), and the Gladiator will do it with ease.

Towing Track Data

0 to 60 MPH: 14.99 seconds
Quarter-Mile Time: 20.26 seconds
Quarter-Mile Speed: 69.65 mph

Payload Track Data

0 to 60 MPH: 10.81 seconds
Quarter-Mile Time: 18.11 seconds
Quarter-Mile Speed: 71.00 mph
Braking 60 to 0 MPH: 136.21 feet

Unladen Track Data

0 to 60 MPH: 8.25 seconds
Quarter-Mile Time: 16.39 seconds
Quarter-Mile Speed: 86.53 mph
Braking 60 to 0 MPH: 128.22 feet

What Affects Towing and Payload Ratings?

Trying to decipher the towing and payload ratings, and how trim level affects them both, can be quite confusing. Out of context, it doesn't make sense that a manual transmission Rubicon can haul more than an automatic transmission Sport, or that a Rubicon can tow 1,000 pounds more than a Mojave. To help better understand the ratings, you need to look past the trims and instead at the vehicle's curb weight, gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), and gross combined weight rating (GCWR).

Curb weight is the actual weight of the vehicle. Gross vehicle weight rating is the maximum weight of the vehicle, plus passengers and cargo. And the gross combined weight rating is the maximum weight of the vehicle, passengers, cargo, and trailer.

With curb weight as a constant, other factors play into a vehicle's GVWR and GCWR. Obviously, transmission choice is a big one as the manual transmission doesn't have the gearing needed to achieve the high GCWR of automatic-equipped vehicles. This can have to do with parts strength, as well. Cooling also plays a part, as vehicles with automatic transmission coolers are rated higher. Suspension and tires are also a factor. Big tires with squishy sidewalls and soft flexy suspension systems aren't going to fare as well during SAE J2807 testing, and thus receive a lower rating. And finally, typically trucks with lower (higher numerically) gear ratios are benefited with a higher tow rating, in this case 3.73:1 gears versus 4.10:1.

How Does the Jeep Gladiator Compare?

When compared to the other midsize class competition, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator finds itself at the top of the heap as long as you're comparing crew-cab, four-wheel-drive, short-bed trucks. In this case, the Gladiator has best-in-class towing and near tops on payload. Other configurations of competitive trucks out-tow and -haul the Gladiator; however, an apples-to-apples comparison lands it at the top of the class.

Ford Ranger - 2.3L I-4, 10-Speed Automatic

Max Towing: 7,500 pounds
Max Payload: 1,560 pounds

Chevrolet Colorado - 3.6L V-6, 8-speed Automatic

Max Towing: 7,000 pounds
Max Payload: 1,551 pounds

Toyota Tacoma - 3.5L V-6, 6-speed Automatic

Max Towing: 6,400 pounds
Max Payload: 1,175 pounds

Nissan Frontier - 3.8L V-6, 9-speed Automatic

Max Towing: 6,380 pounds
Max Payload: 1,360 pounds

Honda Ridgeline - 3.5L V-6, 9-speed Automatic

Max Towing: 5,000 pounds
Max Payload: 1,580 pounds
(Competitive Set - Crew-Cab, Four-Wheel Drive, Short-Bed)