With a line-up that ranges from the robust Laredo 4×4, priced at $55,045, to the luxurious Summit Reserve 4×4, also offered at $77,045, the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee appeals to a broad audience in the Canadian marketplace. But what makes this vehicle stand out?
Engine: Power Meets Efficiency
At the heart of the 2023 Grand Cherokee is Jeep’s new inline-six engine, aptly named “Hurricane.” This engineering marvel is replacing the old V8 and is expected to deliver between 420 to a massive 500 horsepower in its high-performance version. The familiar 3.6-liter V6, producing 293 horsepower, continues to be a reliable option for base models. The cherry on top is a hybrid powertrain based on a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine that offers a combined output of 375 horsepower. Every powerplant in the lineup is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, ensuring smooth and efficient power delivery.
Interior: Luxury Meets Utility
Inside the Grand Cherokee, you’ll find a high-quality interior combining classic elements and modern technology. Quality materials and attention to detail create a luxurious cabin that accommodates passengers comfortably. The standard model comes with two spacious rows of seats, while the optional Grand Cherokee L model features a stretched wheelbase and a third row of seats.
Technology: Intuitive and Up-to-Date
Standard tech includes a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and an 8.4-inch touchscreen. The Grand Cherokee supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, ensuring your devices can easily sync with the vehicle. Additional standard features include a Wi-Fi hotspot, a six-speaker audio system, USB ports, Bluetooth, dual-zone automatic climate control, and push-button start. Jeep has also provided a variety of optional features like a 10.1-inch touch screen, a 10.25-inch passenger-side touch screen, navigation, wireless device charging, a nine-speaker Alpine audio system, and a top-notch 19-speaker McIntosh audio system.
Design: Timeless and Refined
From a design perspective, the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee stays true to its roots. The exterior design is attractive and functional, with the potential for new color options. Despite having a smaller cargo area than some rivals, with about 37.7 feet of space behind the second row and 70.8 cubic feet total, the SUV remains a practical choice.
Performance: Off-Road and Beyond
The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee continues to impress with its off-road capabilities. Composed handling and strong performance make it an attractive option for those who crave adventure. However, potential buyers should be aware that with these impressive attributes comes a relatively high starting price.
The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee offers Canadian drivers a blend of power, luxury, and cutting-edge technology. Despite the high starting price and smaller cargo area, the numerous benefits may tip the scales in favor of this impressive SUV. As always, it’s essential to research, compare, and test-drive to determine if this vehicle meets your needs and preferences.
Explore the Grand Cherokee MSRP & Invoice Price over here
Dive into Factory Incentives, Lease Rates, and Finance Rates over here
Looking for exhaustive information on Vehicle Specifications? Find them here
It was only a matter of time before Jeep gave the extended wheelbase “L” treatment first offered for the then-new 2021 Grand Cherokee L to its more luxury-lined Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer models, so as expected a 305-mm (12-in) longer and more accommodating version of the 4×4 brand’s full-size family hauler showed up at February’s New York International Auto Show (NYIAS).
Overall, the Wagoneer L/Grand Wagoneer L now measures a sizeable 5,758 mm (226.7 in) from bumper to bumper, which makes it even lengthier than the Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL twins, albeit not by much. In fact, the ultra-long Jeep is just 25 mm (1-in) longer than the 5,733 mm (225.70 in) Chevy, and an even greater 38 mm (1.5 in) more than the 5,720 mm (225.20 in) GMC, while at least as importantly the new Wagoneer L/Grand Wagoneer L’s wheelbase grows a significant 178 mm (7 in) over the regular-length variant, now measuring 3,302 mm (130 in) from axle to axle.
Jeep’s largest ute provides more space behind the third row than Chevy’s Suburban
While 104 mm (4.1 in) down on the two GM SUV’s wheelbases, which span 3,406 mm (134.10 in) apiece, the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L offer 1,252 litres (44.2 cu ft) of cargo space behind the third row for a surprising gain of 77 litres (2.7 cu ft) over the Suburban/Yukon XL when measured behind the third row. Unfortunately, the advantage wanes when comparing cargo volume behind the second and first rows, the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L’s 2,514-litre (88.8 cu-ft) capacity being 142 litres (5.0 cu ft) shy of the big GM haulers with respect to the former, whereas its 3,707 litres (130.9 cu ft) of maximum cargo space is 390 litres (13.8 cu ft) less accommodating.
What will matter more to Jeep fans is the size difference when comparing Jeep to Jeep, or rather Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer to Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L, with the longer version gaining 447 litres (15.8 cu ft) of additional cargo volume behind the third row than the standard-wheelbase Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer, which is about 50 percent more, while 510 litres (18.0 cu ft) can be had behind the second row, and lastly 1,039 litres (36.7 cu ft) when both rear rows are folded flat (take note that a large hump interferes with loading floor space in models that incorporate a fixed centre console in the second row). Of note, “Trail Rails” can be added to strap cargo down in back.
Extra curb weight offset by new twin-turbo inline-six with up to 510 hp
The extra length adds about 90 kilograms (200 lbs) to the Wagoneer L/Grand Wagoneer L’s overall mass, which isn’t all that much considering the extra volume, plus it shouldn’t be all that noticeable on the road thanks to a new available 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine, dubbed internally as “Hurricane”.
This new engine will be standard fare in extended L models, with a total of 420 horsepower in the Wagoneer L and a whopping 510 hp in the Grand Wagoneer L, while torque figures are 468 and 500 lb-ft respectively. The two models share towing capacities of 10,000 lbs (4,536 kg) with the shorter wheelbase variants, much due to their robust body-on-frame Ram 1500 donor chassis, while Jeep claims a 15-percent improvement in fuel economy when comparing the less potent version of the inline-six to Chryco’s current 5.7-litre Hemi V8, the latter putting out a substantive 392 horsepower with its eTorque drivetrain, while it’s rated at 13.8 L/100km combined city/highway in the 2022 Wagoneer.
Of note, the regular-wheelbase Wagoneer will keep the 5.7-litre Hemi as its base engine for 2023, while the shorter Grand Wagoneer will also continue to come standard with the optional 6.4-litre V8, that engine incidentally good for 471 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque.
New inline-six shares 8-speed auto and AWD with lesser variants
According to Jeep, 96 percent of the new twin-turbo six-cylinder engine’s components are interchangeable between 420 and 510 hp versions, which of course reduces costs that can be passed down to consumers. Increased power therefore comes from boost and compression differences, while more power is reportedly available for future upgrades.
What’s more, the new engine can be paired with a plug-in hybrid system, so we can probably expect a more formidable, more fuel-efficient and cleaner electrified version in the near future, while this engine can also be fitted to any current rear-wheel drive model, making it ideal for other models in the Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler or Ram lineup.
All of the above noted engines come mated to Chrysler group’s well-proven eight-speed automatic transmission, while each model and trim benefits from four-wheel drive in Canada.
We can expect a limited supply of new Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L models to arrive in Canada later this year, although serious buyers may want to consider ordering as early as possible, considering expected continuations of supply chain interruptions.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Jeep
Stellantis, the company most Canadians have never heard of, is planning to build 25 new electric vehicles for North American markets by 2025. For those who don’t follow all things automotive, Amsterdam,…
Stellantis, the company most Canadians have never heard of, is planning to build 25 new electric vehicles for North American markets by 2025.
For those who don’t follow all things automotive, Amsterdam, Netherlands-based Stellantis is the new (as of last year) multinational automotive manufacturing corporation formed to combine all brands from the now dissolved Italian-American conglomerate Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with additional French PSA Group brands under one umbrella. This means that longstanding American brands like Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Mopar auto parts are now part of the same ownership family as 11 European brands including Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Citroën, DS (Citroën’s luxury division), Fiat, Fiat Professional (a commercial division that makes Fiat and Ram vans), Lancia, Maserati, Opel (previously part of General Motors), Peugeot, and Vauxhall (ditto re GM).
Upon the amalgamation of both automakers within the new Stellantis group, all brands were promised the opportunity to shine (a.k.a. become profitable) before potentially being axed, which was a much-welcome lifeline thrown to a few once revered marques, such as Chrysler, Dodge and Lancia, which had been whittled down to just a few models prior to this new lease on life.
While we may never see Lancia return to Canada, or for that matter Citroën, Opel or Vauxhall (that are little more than Opels rebadged for the UK), let alone any 2022 models from Fiat, a Chrysler crossover SUV would certainly bolster that beleaguered brand’s lineup, let alone something new for Dodge. Chrysler deserves kudos for its plug-in hybrid Pacifica minivan, and for its nifty renaming strategy that turned a first-generation Pacifica into a brand-new Grand Caravan, thus providing a third wing-badged model, whereas Dodge has three totally unique models, albeit nothing close to the range of alternatives that Japanese or Korean competitors offer.
Stellantis promises new electric crossovers, pickups and even an EV muscle car
Earlier this month, Stellantis’ announced a comprehensive plan that will impact everything from financials to future products right through to 2030, with some of the latter including fully electric models for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram. Where the Ram 1500 EV was merely a graphic teaser designed to show Ford, Chevy, GMC/Hummer, Rivian, Tesla and other EV truck producers that Ram is taking the sector seriously, the bright yellow Jeep EV concept already looks promising.
It would be the go-anywhere division’s first electric vehicle, although take note that Jeep currently offers their plug-in hybrid 4xe powertrain for the new Grand Cherokee and Wrangler, with Hemi V8 performance from an electrified V6 that puts out 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. Such numbers should make any auto enthusiast excited about the Dearborn-based automaker getting hold of a pure electric drivetrain, thanks to a history of cars, SUVs and trucks with tire-scorching straight-line acceleration.
The Jeep EV shown here, which is expected to launch in early 2023, most likely rides on the STLA Small platform, which is capable of accommodating between 37 and 82 kWh of capacity, resulting in as much as 483 km (300 miles) of range. Jeep promises a larger electric “lifestyle family SUV” too, as well as a more off-road capable EV, both for 2024.
Chrysler will get an EV as well. It’s based on the Airflow concept introduced last January at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and sized similarly to Ford’s very popular Mustang Mach-E. Due in 2024 as a 2025 model, the new crossover should be good for up to 644 km (400 miles) of range, while also capable of Level 3 autonomous driving capability.
Stellantis to make up to 75 unique electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles worldwide
Stellantis’ EV push also includes a hydrogen fuel cell contingent, which, together with all of the above and more, combines for a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2038. This means all European vehicle sales and half of U.S. sales (which will likely include Canada) will be electric by 2030, resulting in 75 new electric vehicles in production by the latter year, with at least 25 on their way to North America.
Just ahead of the Ram 1500 EV mentioned a moment ago, which is scheduled to arrive in 2024, Stellantis’ dedicated truck brand will launch a fully electric ProMaster van in 2023, which will simultaneously debut a Fiat Professional version. We’ll also see an electrified Dodge muscle car prototype later this year, all ahead of the aforementioned Airflow hitting the market.
Chrysler will be fully electric by 2028, so therefore all internal combustion engine (ICE) enthusiasts can give a collective sigh of sadness for the fabulous Hemi V8’s demise, while Italian luxury car brands Alfa Romeo and Maserati (also known for their formidable and sonorous ICE’s) will completely change over to electric by 2030.
Stellantis sees a future for hydrogen fuel cell tech in the commercial sector
As for hydrogen fuel cell models, Ram is planning a large, ProMaster hydrogen van for 2025, while the same brand should have its heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks hydrogenized shortly thereafter. Hydrogen offers lighter weight than battery-powered EVs, benefiting ultimate cargo capacities, plus quicker refueling than recharging a battery, so H2 may become a better alternative for commercial vehicles as long as an extensive hydrogen refuelling network is made available to support its plan.
Serving both commercial and consumer markets, Stellantis’ is continuing to work on autonomous driving aids, such as hands-free cruise control, as well. The automaker is lagging behind others in this sector, but, together with strategic partner BMW, plans to introduce an advanced system in 2024 that won’t require a driver to continuously monitor the steering wheel, which is currently the case for most competitive systems.
2022 Chrysler Airflow | Our First Battery-Electric Vehicle (3:16):
2022 CES | Chrysler Airflow Reveal (12:22):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Stellantis
About a decade into my automotive journalism career, and a bit more than 10 years ago, in 2010, there were a grand total of nine competitors in the compact-to-mid-size pickup truck segment. Jeep’s new…
About a decade into my automotive journalism career, and a bit more than 10 years ago, in 2010, there were a grand total of nine competitors in the compact-to-mid-size pickup truck segment. Jeep’s new Gladiator wasn’t part of the picture back then, but Chrysler Group LLC’s Dodge Dakota was, although due to a misguided DaimlerChrysler redesign that took it from one of the best-looking pickups in the class to one of the least appealing trucks ever, combined with a cheap, plasticky interior, it was struggling near the bottom of its category in sales and was phased out soon after.
Fast-forward to 2021 and there’s just six rivals competing in this category, including one from the newly-minted Dutch-formed Stellantis N.V. that, via its Jeep division, is once again back to making great looking trucks. Without purposely trying to tick off Toyota Tacoma fans, I think the new Gladiator is the most alluring pickup in the mid-size segment, but I can understand why this serious off-roader only finds a narrow niche of hardcore enthusiast buyers.
It’s priced much higher than most of its rivals, after all, with a 2021 window sticker starting at $49,315 (plus freight and fees) before growing to $64,405 in top-line High Altitude trim. Incidentally, when configuring the same trim at CarCostCanada, which shows the starting price at $53,315, it comes out to an identical $64,405 when adding the requisite $9,295 CPOS PKG and $1,795 Customer Preferred Package 24N, while combining all of the most expensive options on either configurator will push the fully-loaded price well past $80k.
Some of these extras include the $7,395 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6, or $345 to $445 in exterior paint options, as well as thousands more in additional equipment if you so choose, such as $1,520 for dual tops including a black Sunrider soft top and body-colour Freedom Top 3-piece modular hardtop; $1,450 for an Advanced Safety package featuring Advanced Brake Assist, Forward Collision Warning Plus with Active Braking, and automatic high beams; a $995 Cargo Management Group with a Trail Rail system, including a 240-amp alternator (up front 220 amps), a 400-watt inverter, an 115-volt auxiliary power outlet on the outside, and lockable rear under-seat storage, a $525 Trailer Tow package with a class IV receiver, heavy-duty engine cooling, and trailer hitch zoom for the backup camera, plus more.
My $56,315 Rubicon trimmed tester sits in the middle from a pricing standpoint, and like the High Altitude can be had with the upgraded EcoDiesel, albeit adding this feature automatically ups the ante by $1,795 for an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission that comes standard with the top-tier Gladiator. It’s the same price if replacing the standard six-speed manual attached to the as-tested gasoline-fed base 3.6-litre V6, while Jeep will also be happy to provide you with $995 worth of 17-inch polished black alloys, plus $295 for a set of 285/70 BSW M/T tires (although the standard All-Terrains should be just fine for most), not to mention $1,495 for Black or Dark Saddle/Black leather seat upholstery (with unique Rubicon and Utility Grid designs), etcetera.
There’s still no sign of a forthcoming Dakota (or 1000) from Dodge, er, Ram (the latter thanks to a separate Ram Truck Division spin-off in 2010), so the glory days of Chrysler group (or Ram) selling 12,000-plus units per year in this class, like the Dakota did in 2004, might be some ways off. As it is, Ram’s most affordable 1500 Classic starts at just over $37k in base Regular Cab two-door, 4×2 Tradesman trim (plus you can get more than $10,000 off of that price in discounts at the time of writing), which is about the same as a base Tacoma, and while it’s filling the same void Ford tried to with its F-150 and GM temporarily did with its Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, both rivals came scurrying back to the smaller, more affordable mid-size truck market so as not to lose out. Ford is even re-entering a re-emerging compact truck segment, it’s new Maverick soon going up against Hyundai’s Santa Cruz, so time will tell whether competitive brands take the bait, as clearly one size does not fit all.
Back to sales, the Tacoma reigned supreme at the top of this segment with a grand total of 16,946 deliveries in 2020, which despite all the hardship last year was its best year ever. The combination of General Motors trucks came second with an 11,678-unit tally, the Colorado earning 6,648 new buyers and the Canyon totalng 5,030, although the Ranger is really the second-place brand at 10,840 units. The Gladiator’s respectable 4,481 sales total puts it fifth on the 2020 calendar year list, just ahead of the Ridgeline’s 3,369 deliveries, leaving the market dregs to the outgoing Frontier that only managed 1,355 sales.
While last place is never good, at least Nissan had some mid-size pickup sales in 2020. As of Q2 this year, the Frontier found zero buyers, or more likely the Japanese brand’s dealers managed to sell the last remaining examples before the new year started. The new 2022 model should remedy this problem quickly when it arrives later this year, but it will nevertheless be attempting to win back once-loyal fans that have long given up on the brand due to the previous Frontier’s seemingly never-ending lifecycle.
At least the Tacoma looks to be on track with 7,349 deliveries over the first two quarters of 2021, while the two GM trucks are doing fairly well too, resulting in 6,239 sales over the same half-year period (split up into 3,295 for the Chevy Colorado and 2,944 for the GMC Canyon). As for Jeep, it sent a reasonable 2,075 Gladiators down Canadian roads (and trails) during Q1 and Q2 of this year, while the almost as pricey Ridgeline only managed 1,582 deliveries during the same six months, despite what appears to be shaping up to be a very strong year in the Canadian mid-size pickup truck sector, shown by 23,467 total sales so far (excluding any Q3 figures).
It’ll need to be strong to surpass last year, however. The mid-size pickup segment sold a total of 48,669 units throughout 2020, which was not only surprising considering the tumultuous year we all experienced, but also when factoring in that the last time we saw numbers this high was back in the late aughts and early teens when Ford was blasting $15-20k-something Rangers out into the market by the bucketful (the retail on a base Ranger was $13,999 back in 2011, plus they offered zero-percent financing), and we had so many other players trying to keep up, Mazda even selling its B-Series variant, and Suzuki trying to purvey an equatorial version of GM’s trucks (I actually went to the U.S.-only launch of the 2006–2009 Mitsubishi Raider too, a Dakota based truck that never made sense to bring here… or there for that matter, evidenced by its scant four-year run).
The Gladiator is all Jeep, however, and not just in name, which in fact came from the 1962-1971 Gladiator that was made famous (to us older folks) in the TV series Daktari. Even more so than that original Gladiator, and therefore more similar to the 1986–1992 Comanche that was obviously derived from the 1984-1990 Cherokee, few will make the mistake of judging Jeep’s latest truck for evolving from anything other than a JL-series Wrangler. It’s an assumption that’s true of its powertrains, drivetrains, chassis and most everything else, despite plenty of body panels that differ.
Obviously, the box is unique, and suits the classic Jeep’s look perfectly, but some might not notice that the brand widened the front grille slats to better cool the engine when towing, the mid-size pickup capable of 3,469 kilos (7,650 lbs) on the hitch and 771 kg (1,700 lbs) on the bed, compared to the Wrangler Unlimited’s max trailer weight of 1,587 kg (3,500 lbs) and total payload of 453 kg (1,000 lbs). Throw a short-bed truck camper on the back of that, or even better, a carbon-fibre C-Class RV-style setup from GEO-Cab or EarthRoamer, not to mention a specially equipped off-road trailer from any number of suppliers, and the Gladiator will happily take you to your new home-away-from-home off the grid.
Any of the Gladiator’s trims would do well for such purposes, as all are capable of getting you and your family just about anywhere. Of course, the aforementioned top trims, which also include the Mojave, are most suitable, my Rubicon-equipped version ideal for tackling all types of wilderness treks thanks to front- and rear-axle electric lockers (the wide heavy-duty axle up front from Dana) and an electronic disconnecting front sway-bar, not to mention Jeep’s Command-Trac part-time, shift-on-the-fly 4×4 system, a 43.4-degree approach angle, 20.3-degree breakover angle, and 26-degree departure angle, the only one (that I could find specs for) mostly better being the Mojave that’s good for 44.7, 20.9, and 25.5 degrees respectively.
Both Gladiator trims compare well against the four-door Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, by the way, with the latter achieving a slightly better 43.9-degree approach angle and 22.6-degree breakover angle, but then again, the SUV’s 37-degree departure angle is massively better, while the two-door Wrangler Rubicon manages a 44-degree approach angle, 27.8-degree breakover angle, and (once again) a 37-degree departure angle.
Of course, I went mud wrestling to find out how the Gladiator performed in its element first-hand, and it was easily up to the task in a local 4×4 hotspot (that’s sadly been closed off since). Of all the 4×4 pickups I’ve taken through this course, the Gladiator Rubicon was at least on par with Chevy’s Colorado ZR2 and felt easier to negotiate through the rougher sections than every stock Tacoma, while it’s much more capable than all others listed above. It climbed up and crawled down steep rock-strewn embankments without breaking a sweat, managed deep sand without a moment’s notice, and casually waded through deep puddles that actually came up over the hood (just like the ZR2), as if it was on a lazy Sunday stroll, finding grip everywhere, while the suspension actually remained comfortable.
An available front camera system, dubbed TrailCam, allows visibility of obstacles in front and to the sides when off the beaten path, plus Jeep also provides an “Off-Road Pages” section within the Apps menu of the Gladiator’s Uconnect infotainment system that monitors vehicle status, such as ride height, pitch and roll (if equipped), transfer case settings, and the Selec-Terrain traction management mode. Both are really useful features, and wholly unique to Jeep.
The Gladiator’s 3,487-mm (137.3-in) wheelbase, which is 479 mm (18.8 in) longer than the Wrangler Unlimited’s and spans 1,027 additional mm (40.4 in) over the base Wrangler, didn’t pose a problem, at least where I was travelling, but probably would around some of the rock abutments I experienced when coaxing a Wrangler Unlimited down the Rubicon Trail, or winding that longer SUV through some of the massively treed forests I’ve negotiated locally on the West Coast, these even making the Unlimited more challenging to operate than the regular-wheelbase Wrangler. Still, as far as pickup trucks with useful beds go, the Gladiator is absolutely brilliant off-road.
Stuffed under its classic latched hood, Chryco’s 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 is plenty potent for everything I asked it to do, thanks to 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, but I’d sooner have the 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 for the sake of four-wheel twist, fuel economy, and therefore, the ability to go further into the bush without worrying about bringing along as many extra Gerry cans of fuel. Still, that decision might only make sense to diehard off-roaders, because the chance of paying off more than $7k worth of engine upgrades for savings of about 10 cents per litre at the pump and maybe 10 percent more range, will take many years of ownership and an odometer spinning well into six figures.
I’ve tested the diesel in an absolutely wonderful near-full-load Wrangler Unlimited Sahara that I’ll be reviewing soon, and I must say I was impressed with its similar thrust of 260 horsepower, and much stronger 442 lb-ft of torque. The Gladiator is not available with the Wrangler’s base 2.0-litre turbo-four, however, which might make a suitable companion for those not needing to haul heavy loads, and could potentially get the price down to commoner levels. The engine makes more torque than the base V6 at 295 lb-ft, while its power is a bit stronger than the diesel at 270, but Jeep obviously felt the four-banger’s expected take-rate wouldn’t make for a good business case, so the Gladiator’s fuel economy option can’t truly be considered an economical choice from a financial perspective.
Jeep appears to be preparing a plug-in hybrid alternative for Gladiator’s engine bay, however, based on the Wrangler Unlimited’s new 4xe model, which will also make a difference at the pump thanks to an estimated 4.8 Le/100km combined city/highway in the SUV. That model represents a $6,900 bump over the equivalently-equipped V6-powered Wrangler Unlimited Sahara, mind you, which probably makes it a better long-term financial bet when compared to the diesel variant, if most of your driving occurs over short distances. This said, its non-electrified fuel economy, which is how you’d be driving it on a road trip due to full-EV range that’s merely 40 km, is 11.7 L/100km combined, which is only slightly better than the regular Wrangler Unlimited Sahara’s 12.2 L/100km combined rating.
While we’re on the theme of fuel economy, the Gladiator’s base V6 is rated at 14.3 L/100km in the city, 10.4 on the highway and 12.6 combined when hooked up to its six-speed manual, or 13.7 city, 10.7 highway and 12.3 combined with its eight-speed automatic, while the diesel is good for a claimed 10.8 L/100 city, 8.5 highway and 9.8 combined.
The Gladiator’s smooth off-road suspension translates into decent on-pavement comfort too, at least for this class, but while its longer wheelbase means that it tracks better than a Wrangler on the highway, it needs more small steering adjustments than one of its less 4×4-oriented competitors when doing so. I suppose this is a small price to pay for its amazing off-road capability. Still, I found it enjoyable and relaxing at freeway speeds, stable and safe feeling through tighter curves, plus it’s a good size for city traffic.
Its cabin is an enjoyable place to while away the time as well, especially if you already like the Wrangler’s classic, retrospective take on interior design. It features body-colour surfaces in key areas, such as the inside door surrounds and above the head as part of the roll bar structure, while my Rubicon’s dash facing was covered in a metallic red composite, also used for the differential bias switch. Matching red stitching can be found throughout the cabin for a sporty look, the front seats even getting embroidered “RUBICON” branding on their backrests, albeit black was my tester’s dominant shade, with both rows covered in optional leather as noted earlier (base Rubicons receive premium cloth).
The Gladiator features all the same improvements in materials quality and design as the current Wrangler, which was last fully updated in 2018. This means my tester boasted a stitched leatherette dash-top, soft-touch, padded door uppers that continue right down to the tops of the even plusher armrests in one single piece, plus a comfortable centre armrest in leather.
All of the Gladiator’s switchgear is excellent, much of it rubberized with nice big, notchy rims that could easily be used with winter gloves, while Jeep even includes a flip-up lid on the centre stack exposing an auxiliary plug, a USB-A charging/connectivity port, as well as a more up-to-date USB-C port. The front seats and steering wheel rim are three-way heatable, to therapeutic levels no less, plus a large interface for the dual-zone automatic climate control system makes maintaining chosen temperatures easy.
In-car electronics include a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen between the two middle vents on the top of the centre stack, and while it’s slightly smaller than average (you’ll need to move up to top-line High Altitude trim to get the 8.4-inch display) the fully-featured Uconnect system comes with most everything an owner could want. Along with the aforementioned Off-Road Pages, my Rubicon’s featured an accurate, easy to use navigation system, fully redundant climate controls that provide nice, big pictographs for selecting ventilation preferences and even let you set the heatable steering wheel and seat warmers, while the audio page includes the usual AM/FM radio selections, plus satellite radio and Bluetooth streaming, all played through an eight-speaker stereo with good sound. You can adjust the backup and forward camera angles from the centre display too, plus the mirror dimmer, which is connected to one of the industry’s new higher-end classic-style frameless mirrors that runs flush to the edges.
Ahead of the driver is a clean, nicely organized primary instrument cluster with analogue gauges to each side of a large 7.0-inch, customizable, full-colour multi-information display, this doubling for the temperature and fuel gauges as well. It’s as close as it gets to a fully digital gauge cluster while remaining mostly analogue, something I don’t think the Gladiator (or Wrangler) needs, nor many of the two models’ fans probably want.
I have to say the driver’s seat was comfortable, necessary for a vehicle that will more than likely be used for overcoming big, bumpy obstacles, but adjustment is purely manual. Again, this wasn’t an issue for me, and makes sense for this type of truck, with even the loftily priced High Altitude receiving the same six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat (featuring seat height) with two-way manual lumbar support, plus just four-way adjustability for the front passenger.
The rear seats are well designed for good comfort and support too, even for the lower back, plus plenty of leg, foot, elbow, shoulder, and headroom comes standard. A large, wide centre armrest can be folded down in the middle, incorporating the usual dual cupholders, although the bigger bottle holders on the backside of the front console do an even better job of holding drinks. Just above these is a three-prong household-style 115-volt power source, plus overtop this is a compact interface housing two USB-A and two USB-C charging ports. The side window switches hover just above, while two big air vents keep rear passengers warm or cool depending on the season. Additionally, an intricate pattern of webbing can be found on the backside of each front seat.
The rear seats fold down to make a large, wide carpeted cargo shelf, and also flip upwards for taller items, the latter position revealing a handy storage box system with integrated dividers underneath.
Speaking of boxes, my tester had a covered bed, but it was easy to unlatch and roll forward out of the way. The inner tailgate, sidewalls and floor were nicely finished with a spray-in liner, which looked durable and therefore capable of lasting the test of time. The tailgate folds down easily, by the way, while I found the bed wasn’t too difficult to jump onto thanks to exposed bumpers with grippy surfaces. Of course, corner steps like those found on GM’s trucks would’ve been even more helpful, but that has more to do with my aging body than anything you may need to worry about (for now).
As for problem areas, the proximity-sensing locks were a bit frustrating, and this wasn’t the first time I’ve had similar challenges with Chrysler group vehicles. It simply wouldn’t lock with the exterior door handle button every time I tried, and therefore needed multiple pressings before locking. I’m guessing this isn’t a common issue with others, or the Gladiator wouldn’t be getting such major praise from owners in J.D. Power’s most recent 2021 Initial Quality Study (IQS), which ranked it number one in their “Midsize Pickup” category. The entire Jeep division managed to finish seventh amongst mainstream volume brands in that study too, which is a significant improvement over previous years, but get this, the Ram truck brand was number one overall, while Dodge was second. The folks at Auburn Hills (and Windsor) have obviously been working hard to address past problems, so kudos to them for this impressive result.
There’s so much more I could say about the Gladiator, but I’ve got to leave something for you to discover. It really is an impressive mid-size pickup truck, and like all Jeeps, a very capable 4×4, plus it’s hardly short on style, features and refinement, from the outside in. As noted earlier, it won’t be as easy on your pocketbook as some of its rivals, both initially at purchase and at the pump, but this should pay off when it comes time to sell, or at least that’s the case with the Wrangler that currently sits on top of its “Compact SUV” category in the latest Canadian Black Book 2020 Best Retained Value Awards, as well as the Vincentric Best Value in Canada Awards for 2021.
As far as getting a deal goes, CarCostCanada is reporting up to $2,684 in additional incentives on new 2021 Gladiator models, while their average member savings were $2,000 at the time of writing. That’s the most aggressive incentives program available to mid-size truck buyers right now, so well worth checking out. Be sure to learn exactly how CarCostCanada’s affordable membership works as well, including how dealer invoice pricing can help you save thousands when purchasing any new vehicle, plus remember to download their free app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store, so you can have all of their valuable information with you exactly when you need it.
Review and photos by Trevor Hofmann
Guessing which vehicles will take home the annual North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year awards is easier some years than others, but most industry experts had 2020’s crop of winners chosen…
Guessing which vehicles will take home the annual North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year awards is easier some years than others, but most industry experts had 2020’s crop of winners chosen long before this week’s announcement.
The actual name of the award is the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) despite now having three categories covering passenger cars, a sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks.
Just 50 automotive journalists make up the NACTOY jury, from print, online, radio and broadcast media in both the United States and Canada, with the finalists presented in the fall and eventual winners awarded each year at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, although this year’s presentation was changed to a separate event at Detroit’s TCF Center (formerly known as Cobo Hall/Cobo Center) due to the 2020 NAIAS moving its dates forward to June 7-20 this year. The NACTOY awards were first presented in 1994, with the Utility Vehicle category added in 2017.
Of note, nomination requirements include completely new vehicles, total redesigns, or significant refreshes. In other words, the nominated vehicle needs to be something most consumers would consider new to the market or substantially different from a model’s predecessor. Also important, the finalists earned their top-three placement by judging their segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for money.
The selection process started in June last year, with the vehicle eligibility determined after three rounds of voting. NACTOY used the independent accounting firm Deloitte LLP to tally the votes and kept them secret until the envelopes were unsealed on stage by the organization’s President, Lauren Fix, Vice President, Chris Paukert, and Secretary-Treasurer, Kirk Bell.
The finalists in the “Car” category included the Chevrolet Corvette, Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Supra, with the final winner being the new seventh-generation mid-engine Corvette, a total game changer for the model and sports car category. Interestingly, it’s been six years since a sports car won the passenger car category, so kudos to Chevy for creating something so spectacular it couldn’t be ignored, while Toyota and Hyundai should also be commended for their excellent entries.
“A mid-engine Corvette was a huge risk for Chevy’s muscle-car icon. They nailed it. Stunning styling, interior, and performance for one-third of the cost of comparable European exotics,” said Henry Payne, auto critic for The Detroit News.
The “Utility Vehicle” finalists included the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride and Lincoln Aviator, with most industry insiders believing one of the two South Korean entries (which are basically the same vehicle under the skin, a la Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia) would take home the prize, and lo and behold the Kia Telluride earned top marks.
“The Telluride’s interior layout and design would meet luxury SUV standards, while its refined drivetrain, confident driving dynamics and advanced technology maintain the premium experience,” said Karl Brauer, Executive Publisher at Cox Automotive. “Traditional SUV brands take note: there’s a new star player on the field.”
“What’s not to like about a pickup truck with not only a soft-top removable roof but even removable doors? If you want massive cargo-hauling capability or the ability to tow 10,000 pounds, buy something else,” said longtime automotive journalist John Voelcker. “The eagerly awaited Gladiator is a one-of-a-kind truck, every bit the Jeep its Wrangler sibling is … but with a pickup bed. How could you possibly get more American than that?”
Of note, NACTOY is an independent, non-profit organization, with elected officers and funding by dues-paying journalist members.
Find out more about the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, 2020 Kia Telluride and 2020 Jeep Gladiator at CarCostCanada, where you can get trim, package and individual option pricing, plus rebate info and even dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. While the Corvette is not yet available, you can get up to $1,000 in additional incentives on the new Telluride, and factory leasing and financing rates from 4.09 percent for the new Gladiator. Make sure to check CarCostCanada for more.