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2020 Jeep Gladiator: Car and Driver's 10Best

CMac

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https://www.caranddriver.com/features/amp29798427/10best-2020-jeep-gladiator/




2020 Jeep Gladiator: Car and Driver's 10Best

We found love in an unexpected place.

By K.C. COLWELL NOV 21, 2019

Every once in a while a vehicle comes along that forces us to revisit our priorities and question ourselves. The Jeep Gladiator did that this year.

While driving dynamics will always be at the forefront of our minds, we will no longer completely damn a vehicle because it falters in a single dimension. As long as it excels in many others and accomplishes what it’s built to accomplish. A good vehicle—be it a sedan, convertible, wagon, pickup, or SUV—can be good for more than just its straight-line sensations or dynamic wonder. And in today’s integrated 10Best competition of cars, trucks, and SUVs, we will celebrate and find those vehicles. But don’t worry, when something doesn’t measure up, we will continue to grade with a scythe.

The 10Best-winning Gladiator isn’t really built to turn or accelerate, though it will do both of those things well enough for most drivers. And while it is truthful to say this is the best-handling and best-riding Wrangler product ever to come out of Toledo, Ohio, that is a bar that’s barely higher than Craigslist’s “ran when parked.” Wranglers can be a mess on the road. These trucks thrive in the dirt, and we’re giving this Jeep our highest praise because it accomplishes a purpose that only a Wrangler could otherwise fulfill and yet is better to live with than the SUV. And what the Gladiator sacrifices in off-road clearance, the pickup bed gives back in utility.

Corvettes, Supras, and 718s are exceptional at what they do. However, those are daily drivers for singles or DINKs. In practical terms, two-seaters are third cars. The Gladiator is a better primary vehicle than any of those sports cars, and it excels as a third car for completing honey-do lists or just enjoying nice weather with the fam. As with any second or third car, there are times you will not grab its keys. Long stretches behind the Gladiator’s wheel tax the eardrums. A heavy crosswind or head wind can make you feel like a captain in rough seas.

"It's a convertible pickup wagon dreamed up in the vein of an 83-function swiss army knife for the road."
But all the noise—both literal and figurative—is drowned out by the fact that the Gladiator is great where those sports cars fail. Moving people, things, or trailers (up to 7650 pounds) is not a problem. Secret trail to the beach that only the locals know? Piece of cake. Judged against other pickups of comparable size, the Gladiator isn’t the best, not even second best. But it isn’t just a pickup; it’s a convertible pickup wagon dreamed up in the vein of an 83-function Swiss Army knife for the road. It will help you harvest your grapes, buy the yeast, move your storage casks, uncork your wine, and drink it, too. You know what else the Gladiator offers that only a few other 10Besters do? A manual transmission.

There is a toylike novelty to removing the top and doors and folding the windshield that’s difficult to quantify. It reminds anyone old enough of simpler times, when seatbelt usage and occupancy counts were mere guidelines. It is the car for having fun outdoors. If overlanding is your bag, Rubicon-edition Gladiators are the off-road equivalent of a Corvette on a racetrack.

A couple Wranglers were eligible for 10Best this year, but they didn’t have the same on-road composure as the Gladiator. All signs indicate that the Gladiator’s near comical wheelbase stretch of 18.9 inches over the already stretched four-door Wrangler is the Jeep’s secret stabilizing sauce. It softens the bucking ride and disconnected road manners that plague these solid-axle Jeeps. Wranglers have always been tons of fun best consumed in small doses. But this is different. Despite having two live axles, a ladder frame, recirculating-ball steering, and four-wheel drive, the Gladiator feels more modern than any Wrangler. Considering all its attributes, we’ve decided it’s love. It’s taken C/D 65 years, but we finally get that mantra constantly broadcast by Jeep owners.

We finally understand.

Full 10 Best list: https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a29820082/10best-2020/
 
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smlobx

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Interesting that both Porsche and FCA have two entrants.

Glad I have one of each!
 

Trippin01

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I kinda figured it would come to this, thats why I got one ordered as soon as I was able to. I read the article and say, "well duh"
 

redrider

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Reading and watching vids since April and noticed how a lot of reviewers knock the recirculating ball PS without understanding or explaining why it is used. Two points-It more robust than R&P and offers better control in the gnarly stuff. The JT will be a welcomed replacement for my YJ.
 

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