Gladiator Interior Shaped by Heritage and Off-Road Trips Says Interior Design Head

  1. JAY

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    The Jeep Gladiator mostly shares its interior with the JL Wrangler, and their interiors were inspired by heritage. Read about it in this article with Jeep's interior design head.

    Per Autonews

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    Gladiator interior shaped by heritage, off-road rides

    April 6, 2019

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The cockpit of the 2020 Gladiator midsize pickup harks back to Jeeps of yesteryear.

    The instrument panel design can be directly linked to models going back to 1941 with the Willys MB military cruiser from World War II and the 1954 CJ5. Chris Benjamin, 42, Jeep's interior design head, says there was no temptation to push the envelope with the interior. The brand has a deep heritage and stuck to it.

    Benjamin spoke with Staff Reporter Vince Bond Jr. in March during a media event here about the creative process for the Gladiator's interior, Jeep's heritage and how designers' off-road trips over the years have helped shape their perspectives. Edited excerpts:

    Q: Was it challenging to design a vehicle with a modern interior that stayed true to the Jeep heritage?

    A: It's tricky because we don't want to do retro with the Jeep brand, but we do realize we have a powerful history, and we respect it. We love it. We want to make sure it comes through in the product without feeling like someone has seen it before. That's the trick to it.

    Why were models from 1941 and 1954 picked for inspiration?

    Those were the ones where the instrument panels had this slim, wide appearance. They were so clean, especially the MB. It was just metal. It wasn't meant for consumption by normal folks; it was designed for the military. Once it was made for the public, it kept that clean impression that it always had. It's refreshing. It gives you something you don't find in interiors these days. A lot of vehicles you find they're just very fussy, a lot of molded plastic. It doesn't have clear theme to it.

    We wanted to make sure to create a nice clear theme. Especially the midbolster running through the center and all of the vents being organized the way they are. It's something that stands out, I feel.

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    What about the interior separates it most from the Wrangler?

    I would say the rear part of the interior, the rear seat, all of the functionality we put back there. From the B-pillar forward, the cars were designed together, so it's common, with the exception of a few touch points — the Wrangler, for example, says "Wrangler" on the grab bar on the passenger side in the front. But at the rear, all of the functionality that we put back there, the seats having the stadium position, the fold-flat position, the storage underneath and behind — all of that is completely unique to the Gladiator.

    We really wanted to create a true truck. We have a lot of experience from the stuff we've done with the Ram brand as well. Borrowing from that, from those experiences, knowing what truck customers want, then doing the research. We really wanted to create an area back there that was full of functionality.

    The Ram team was consulted on the interior?

    We all work together. Our interior design team is very close-knit. Ryan Nagode does the Ram stuff and I have Jeep and Chrysler. We talk every day, pretty much. Our interior design teams all sit together and a lot of times when we start sketching out programs, we'll have guys from both teams sketching. When you're that compact of a team, you're happy to share your experiences and knowledge with each other.

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    I always tell people: I'm from New York City and grew up in Miami. I'm not, by nature, an outdoorsy person. The first time I was able to go off-roading, [Jeep exterior design head] Mark Allen took a group of us out. I've been out with him in Michigan. I've been out to Moab with him. It's life-changing, especially Moab. It gives you a newfound appreciation for that enthusiast lifestyle, the guys that live that and do that every day. Trips like that are inspirational. You see how you use the vehicle, the things it can do, the capability of it. Bringing our passion to what our vehicles do, it's really harnessing that experience into an object.

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    Was there a lot of pressure for this vehicle because expectations were so high?

    Of course. Everybody has been waiting for this for so long. My designer who designed it, for him, having had recent off-road experiences before starting work on the program really inspires you to come up with something different, something unique. That's what we try to instill in our whole team, to always try to do something that hasn't been done before. I think we did that with this.

    You look at the competitive set, you get in them and it's like, 'Oh yeah, it's a midsize pickup.' You sort of expect what you see. I think in the Gladiator, it's something different. Even from the outside, it promises you something else, something more.
     
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  2. MrKnowitall

    MrKnowitall Well-Known Member

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    I'm underwhelmed with what they did with the back seat. I really like the low flat deck the seat folds to in the JK and JL. You'd still get the lockable space behind the seat, but the low flat deck is great for dogs or stuff.
     
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  3. Chance_P

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    I couldn't agree more. Trying to figure out the best way for my dog to ride in the back seat. Most likely going to end up with one of those tacky covers that goes over the seats while they are in the standard position for local trips and just completely remove the seats and storage for long "overland" style trips.
     
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  4. DanOnTheCob

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    I for one love the interior, Pretty innovative.
     
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  5. msujedi

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    Not having a dog, I prefer the underseat storage.

    I imagine dogs of different sizes would require different seat arrangements ... smaller dogs might be fine with the seat backs folded down ... larger dogs might be fine sitting on top of the storage boxes with the seat bottoms folded up.

    One great thing about this forum is that many creative ideas get shared.
     
  6. Magnus Rudis

    Magnus Rudis New Member

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    I'm glad some of us are thinking about how to manage the comfort of our favorite passengers. I have two pitties that go everywhere with me. So after ordering the LE I started to think of ways to protect my interior as much as possible. On my JKU i have one of those generic waterproof covers, a neoprene console cover and a neoprene passenger seat cover. I also have a Dirty Dog 4x4 Pet divider for times I need to confine them aft. So far my search has revealed nothing advertised to replace them in the JT. I guess they are going to have to stay in the cab on rainy days. Which will suck as we are Upper Left Coast. Have to start a thread in the Tech Section under Interior Mods.
     
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  7. Nick1941

    Nick1941 Well-Known Member

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    I have two large doberman dogs and I have been also wondering about the best ways to have them ride along in this vehicle. Part of me wants to get an "impact dog crate" for the bed on nice days and some type of bed canopy but it would be nice having them in the cab for other trips or poor weather. Its hard getting into the rear door for them in our wrangler because of the shape of the rear door and the height so they ride in the trunk portion most times.

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  8. jhale1800

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    Maybe we should start another thread with how to configure our Gladiators for puppy transportation, so this thread doesn't go too far off topic, but...

    We have a black lab and a cavachon, and we've been thinking about how to configure our backseat for them to travel comfortably on long trips. We were thinking we'd go without the storage box, and fold up the bottom portion of the seat and hold it with a bungee chord or something if it won't stay up while driving. If you order the Gladiator without the storage box, there's a divider installed between the footwell and the underneath portion of the seat where the box would be installed. I'm wondering if the storage box and the divider support the seat when it's down, or if the seat could still be used without them. Anybody know?
     
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