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2021 Jeep Gladiator Performance


MSRP
$33,545
U.S. News Best Price Program

2021 Jeep Gladiator Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.3

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator has OK on-road performance. It accelerates briskly and provides sufficient passing power, but its ride is jittery, and its handling can feel wayward. Its rugged suspension translates to exceptional off-road performance, however.

  • "The standard gasoline V6 is respectable enough, but the diesel engine’s 442 lb-ft of maximum torque coming in at just 1,400 rpm is an off-roader’s idea of perfection." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It's not much for cornering… but then again, neither are the rest of these trucks. Plus, if you're measuring success in life by how quickly your Jeep accelerates or how well it turns, perhaps it's time to revisit the Xanax." -- Car and Driver (2020)
  • "Yet with up to 11 inches of available ground clearance and all sorts of traction aids, the Gladiator still offers surprising off-road capability, as demonstrated on a grueling course set up for just that purpose." -- Consumer Guide (2020)

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Base engine: 3.6-liter V6 with 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque
  • Available engine: 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 with 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque (EcoDiesel)
  • Drivetrain: four-wheel drive
  • Transmission: standard six-speed manual; available eight-speed automatic

The gas V6 engine is fine for everyday driving and light-duty towing, but the diesel V6 provides more effortless acceleration and makes easy work of pulling heavier loads. The Gladiator’s manual transmission shifts OK, but it’s overshadowed by the automatic, which provides smooth and well-timed gear changes.

  • "Torque is more important with trucks, of course, and one of the non-diesel Gladiator's shortcomings is its distinct lack of low-end grunt with the gas V-6. That engine will make power if you rev it out, but people don't drive like that, especially in pickups. The EcoDiesel fixes the issue. It makes its full fusillade of torque starting at 1,400 rpm and keeps it going through 2,800 rpm, by which point the horsepower is coming online ahead of its own 3,600-rpm peak." -- Motor Trend
  • "In regular driving on surface streets and highways, the Gladiator's V6 engine feels sufficient. … There isn't a whole lot of joy in the art of shifting the Gladiator's manual gearbox, but somehow a clutch pedal in a Wrangler-based vehicle just feels right." -- Autoblog (2020)
  • "The 850RE eight-speed automatic is eager and capable, equally adept both on- and off-road. We briefly drove a Gladiator equipped with the base six-speed manual, and although it was surprisingly fun on the road, we much prefer the automatic when the going gets rough." -- Automobile Magazine (2020)

MPG Estimates

The Jeep Gladiator earns some of the best and worst EPA ratings in the compact pickup truck class.

  • V6, manual: 16/23 mpg city/highway
  • V6, automatic: 17/22 mpg
  • Turbodiesel V6, automatic: 22/28 mpg

Handling and Braking

The Jeep Gladiator shines off road thanks to its solid axles, stiff coil-sprung suspension, and low-range transfer case. This setup allows the Gladiator to maintain traction across truly punishing terrain. The Gladiator feels less composed on road, however. Road bumps and dips tend to send shudders through the suspension. The Gladiator feels a bit tippy around turns, and its steering is vague.

  • "… although the Gladiator always feels safe and planted, its solid axles — installed purely for their off-road benefits — bring some disadvantages on the tarmac. The Gladiator is a little wobbly when cornering and doesn’t absorb potholes as well as other midsize trucks. This is because, unlike the more on-road-oriented independent front suspensions (found in the rest of this class) that allow each wheel to absorb bumps individually, a solid axle transfers motion from one wheel across the axle to the other." -- Autotrader
  • "On-pavement handling is compromised by the same giant tires and solid front axle that make the Gladiator excel off-road. The steering lacks precision, and crosswinds and road ruts demand some attention. Overall, though, it's easier to drive than a Wrangler. There's no getting around the fact that its heavy solid-axle front suspension compromises ride comfort. You'll feel the Gladiator wiggle and jiggle when you drive over lumpy asphalt. You'll also hear more wind and road noise than in other trucks." -- Edmunds
  • "After a good bit of time spent on one of the roughest trails I’ve ever experienced, I can say that the Gladiator will go places I never dreamed it could go, and certainly would never take my own vehicle. And it did it with seeming ease." -- Consumer Guide (2020)
U.S. News Best Price Program

2021 Jeep Gladiator

MSRP: $33,545 - $43,875

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