2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 4X4

by Michael Satterfield 02/15/2021  (this story was originally published on TheGentlemanRacer.com)

There is something about a real Jeep, sure their standard range of SUVs are excellent, we recently just turned in our Grand Cherokee a few weeks ago. But as nice as they are, they lacked a lot of that quintessential American grit that made the original Jeep an icon. The Gladiator, however, is 100% pure Jeep.

The Gladiator descends from a long line of utilitarian Jeeps going all the way back to the 1947 Willys-Overland pickup, the first truck to be called a Gladiator debuted in 1963 and remained in production with some minor tweaks until 1987. While the old Gladiator was more of a conventional pick up the 1980's Jeep Scrambler was closest to what the modern Gladiator is today, just in a regular cab configuration.

First Drive: 2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 4X4

The Gladiator Rubicon is far from a basic off-roader, and this is the Rubicon edition loaded with options, after all the extras and the destination charges it stickers at just over $67,000. While the base model Gladiator starts at just over $35,000 the higher trim levels really do offer a lot of content. Plus this truck features the new 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel that produces 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque, which delivered a surprising 26 mpg average for us.

On or off-road the Gladiator was far more comfortable than I first expected, seeing as it rode on 33-inch off-road tires, but around town and even on the highway the Gladiator was surprisingly quiet. Some of that added silence could also be attributed to the hardtop, which Jeep calls the Freedom Top. The body-colored multi-panel hardtop is a $2,395 option that is well worth considering. 

First Drive: 2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 4X4

Inside the Gladiator Rubicon is a mix of rugged jeep and modern luxury, optioned with a well-appointed leather interior with contrast stitching, heated seats, 8.4-inch touch screen with premium sound system, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The dashboard is user-friendly, you do have to adjust to having all your window controls in the center stack, since it is a Jeep the doors are removable. There are lots of compartments and storage options and with this trim package, it gets a full center console.

First Drive: 2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 4X4

The Gladiator really does offer a lot of versatility in a single-vehicle, all the off-road fun of a Jeep, the practicality of a four-door, and the 4,500 lb towing capacity of a truck. Plus you can fold down the windshield and take the doors off, that's just cool. Plus there is just something quintessentially American about a Jeep that I really love, while it is modern it also carries little reminders of its humble roots. If you are looking for a capable vehicle that can be your daily driver and weekend warrior it is hard to think of something better than the Gladiator.