Gladiator - Good/Bad?

Jay61

Member
Not on the gladiator, only on the wrangler

FYI, I have about 50k on a 2020 gladiator rubicon 6spd with 35s. A regear would be great so would a new clutch. Those two aren’t necessary for what I do, but just items that I would think would push it over the ledge from good to great.

I’m currently in Germany, and when I first got here I had planned on selling the gladiator to buy a gwagen or defender. Looking at what you get for the price point I couldn’t justify them Over the gladiator. Don’t get me wrong a 460 gwagen is great but… I own the Jeep and parts are way easier to find no matter where you are.
Yeah, the Centerforce Clutch upgrade is great for a standard transmission Jeep of any model. Regearing is also what you want to do, especially as heavy as we load our vehicles.
 

Jay61

Member
No rational individual or study will find the jeep more reliable than a Toyota. I like Jeeps, have owned one and probably will own another some day- but it’s not a Toyota.
Next
On pavement, yeah it is more reliable, lots of time off pavement, that is a horse of a different color. Give me a Jeep for offroad reliability over a Toyota every day of the week and twice on Sunday. They are just not anywhere as "beefy" as a Jeep leading to a higher rate of offroad failures. The older Toyotas from the early 80s or before, well they holdup offroad better, but then again, they had no IFS. What it all boils down to, I would rather have a major failure on the highway than 40 miles from the nearest pavement where I could purchase a new vehicle for what recovery would cost.
 

Jc1986.carter

Active member
Yeah, the Centerforce Clutch upgrade is great for a standard transmission Jeep of any model. Regearing is also what you want to do, especially as heavy as we load our vehicles.
I have centerforce waiting to be installed, I’m looking forward to seeing the difference. My beater vw golf idles and crawls up inclines better than my Jeep… :(
 

PCO6

Adventurer
The size difference is insane.

You’re right. The MJ is much bigger. :rolleyes: Well, the bed is anyway. Mine is a short bed model Eliminator with a 6’ long bed. The long bed models are 7’. JTs have a 5’ bed. A second set of seats will do that to you.

The other dimensions are similar. Both have a interior width of 55” and a wheel well to well width of 44”. I believe the JTs have about a quarter to a half inch advantage in both cases. MJs have a bed depth of 16.25” and I believe the JTs are 17.5”.

JTs have some nice features that probably weren’t even thought of when MJs came out in 1986. They have an AC power socket and I believe a 12V power port. They also have an LED courtesy light. These are things that could be added to an MJ of course. Another nice thing is that JTs have a section stamped into their beds to the rear of the wheel wells. That allows a 2”x6” piece of lumber to be inserted vertically into the bed. The top of the wood insert would be at the same as the height of the wheel well which allows you to lay down a sheet of plywood (or?) more easily. They also have a 3 position tailgate. They can be opened and set at about half height.

One thing the JT doesn’t have is a “sport bar” (legal name for a roll bar). These are very rare even though I think they only cost about $150 when MJs were new. I bought a parts MJ to get mine. I took the parts I wanted, replaced them with lesser but usable (seats for example) parts and sold it for a little more than I paid for it. It also came with an even rarer soft tonneau that had never been installed.

I really like the Gladiators … but my 35 year old Comanche isn’t going any where!

21-04-20 1.JPG
 

Berserker

Member
I have a 2020 Gladiator Rubicon with stock suspension and have had 35" Falken Wildpeak M/T tires on AEV wheels for 45k miles (50k miles total). ~5k-7k miles have been on dirt/forest roads or off-roading. I used to take it off-roading, then car camping, and have worked up to a few week-long backcountry trips in the US. My trips have been 50/50 solo or with my family.

Here's my opinion on the truck.

Pros:
  • Outstanding off-road performance. The truck is a brute off-road and the truck overall feels tough.
  • Lockers, electronic sway bar disconnect, 4:1 transfer case, softer suspension
  • Massive aftermarket support in the US
  • With the right wheel backspacing, you can run 35" tires with the factory suspension and not rub the fenders at full flex (Rubicon and Mojave trims)
  • The 8spd auto transmission, 3.6l v6, and 4.10 gears are an excellent combination and the truck has plenty of power with no to medium load.
  • Factory steel bumpers & rocker protection
  • Raised breather hoses for water fording
  • 240-amp alternator provides plenty of juice for accessories
Cons:
  • Headroom. I'm 6'3 and my head simultaneously hits the hard top and sound bar, even with the seat all the way down. I removed the driver sun visor so I can see out, but I still have to crane my neck. I also can't see the top of the gauge cluster
  • Soft suspension gives it poor handling on the highway when loaded for a trip (~300 lbs of gear/supplies plus my 230 lbs). Often when I hit a bump on the highway, the truck sways back and forth like a pendulum. This is compounded on windy days or with a heavy load up top.
  • The bed is short in height. Sure, it's a 5' bed, but the bed is hardly deep enough to fit a fridge under a tonneau cover without a fridge slide.
  • The truck is close to maxed out when taking a family on a trip. There's just enough space and payload to carry everyone and camping gear, which leaves no room for error (and places greater strain on the vehicle). In these conditions, I rarely see 8th gear on the highway.
The only issue I've had with the truck is at 18k miles and again at 40k miles, oil began seeping out from around the ignition coils. Both times that was fixed under warranty by the dealership. I haven't experienced death wobble with this Jeep (but I did in my first two JKs). I also haven't had to replace the auxiliary battery yet. Overall, I think it's a great platform for a solo traveler. It allows you to bring what you need, with a few extra comforts, and stay well under payload. The off-road handling gives me confidence that I can make it to and from most campsites regardless of weather or trail conditions. Range hasn't been an issue, but that's because I plan my trips with that and fuel stops in mind. With 35s and my average trip load (~300 lbs of gear/supplies plus my 230 lbs), I get about 17mpg and 300-320 miles to the tank. My somewhat cramped driving position hasn't led to driver fatigue yet, even with 10+hr travel days.
 
Last edited:

MOAK

Adventurer
What’s funny is he is right. History has shown all things equal a Chrysler is a turd compared to a Toyota when it comes to quality. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy a gladiator though.
I’m willing to bet a months retirement check that had the 70 series Landcruiser been allowed in the US decades ago, Jeep would no longer exist. I had a 75CJ, a 98 TJ, an 04 Rubicon, a gasser Liberty and a diesel Liberty. The 04 Rubi was by far and away the pinnacle of the Jeep brand. It was dependable, as long as one kept up with maintenance, and easy to work on. The new stuff? We were in the maze a few years ago and a poor guy in his brand new wrangler was awaiting a rescue because of an electronics failure. I always wonder if his Jeep warranty paid for that multi-thousand dollar recovery. Even if the chances of failure are 1 in a thousand, where we go, I prefer to not take that risk. ( says the dude with 371,000 miles on the clock )
IMG_1614.jpeg
 
Last edited:

smbisig

Adventurer
Cons:
  • Headroom. I'm 6'3 and my head simultaneously hits the hard top and sound bar, even with the seat all the way down. I removed the driver sun visor so I can see out, but I still have to crane my neck. I also can't see the top of the gauge cluster
You must have a large torso, or I have a short torso. I am 6'5" and have never hit my head and have always felt like I have a lot of headroom.
  • Soft suspension gives it poor handling on the highway when loaded for a trip (~300 lbs of gear/supplies plus my 230 lbs). Often when I hit a bump on the highway, the truck sways back and forth like a pendulum. This is compounded on windy days or with a heavy load up top.
Rubicon (and Mojave) models have softer springs than other Gladiator packages. I loaded the crap out of my stock Sport S when it was stock and before upgrading the springs and it handled the weight surprisingly well. Same with my father, ran for a few months on stock springs with an Alu-Cab Canopy Camper before swapping out the rear springs.
 

Dan Grec

Expedition Leader
I’m willing to bet a months retirement check that had the 70 series Landcruiser been allowed in the US decades ago, Jeep would no longer exist.

I'll take that bet.
The 70 series is not what many people think, and it would never be accepted by US consumers.
An auto journalist friend of mine flew to Australia a couple of years ago, and Toyota lent him a brand new 78 series troopy with the 4.5l v8 Turbo diesel.
This is a $120,000 vehicle that has crank windows, vinyl floors, no A/C, no cruise, no bluetooth, no backup camera, no screen, no ABS and basically anything else you can think of. You might think that's a good thing, but not for $120k it's not.

You have to wring it's neck to sit on even 70 mph, and the noise in the driving cabin is atrocious.
When I did my lap of Australia last year we travelled with a lot of people in Troopies, 76s and 79s. On just a regular old dirt road doing 50 or 60 mph, they would drive with headphones in. The noise in the cabin was so loud they couldn't even talk to their partner sitting next to them.
Meanwhile Katie and I in the Gladiator (which was cheaper) had leather heated seats, A/C, bluetooth and were in relative silence.
In terms of offroading the 70 series is designed to carry enormous loads (you can increase the legal weight limit to 9000 lbs in Australia), but that is about all. The leaf spings in the rear seriously limit articulation, and they were downright sketchy on climbs and anything technical. It's no wonder the Aussies always have such dramatic videos - you only need to climb basic stuff to get massive wheel lifts galore.

The 70 series is a tractor that stopped getting better in about 1985 - don't get me wrong, it's a very good tractor, but it's a tractor.
Yes, they're fantastic on seriously remote roads in Africa (with African safety standards and expectations of comfort).
No, they wouldn't sell well in the USA.

-Dan
 

Berserker

Member
You must have a large torso, or I have a short torso. I am 6'5" and have never hit my head and have always felt like I have a lot of headroom.

Rubicon (and Mojave) models have softer springs than other Gladiator packages. I loaded the crap out of my stock Sport S when it was stock and before upgrading the springs and it handled the weight surprisingly well. Same with my father, ran for a few months on stock springs with an Alu-Cab Canopy Camper before swapping out the rear springs.

Great distinction on the suspension differences, I forgot to mention that. And I like to deadlift, so my glutes are a natural phone book when I sit.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: mog

Buddha.

Finally in expo white.
I'll take that bet.
The 70 series is not what many people think, and it would never be accepted by US consumers.
An auto journalist friend of mine flew to Australia a couple of years ago, and Toyota lent him a brand new 78 series troopy with the 4.5l v8 Turbo diesel.
This is a $120,000 vehicle that has crank windows, vinyl floors, no A/C, no cruise, no bluetooth, no backup camera, no screen, no ABS and basically anything else you can think of. You might think that's a good thing, but not for $120k it's not.

You have to wring it's neck to sit on even 70 mph, and the noise in the driving cabin is atrocious.
When I did my lap of Australia last year we travelled with a lot of people in Troopies, 76s and 79s. On just a regular old dirt road doing 50 or 60 mph, they would drive with headphones in. The noise in the cabin was so loud they couldn't even talk to their partner sitting next to them.
Meanwhile Katie and I in the Gladiator (which was cheaper) had leather heated seats, A/C, bluetooth and were in relative silence.
In terms of offroading the 70 series is designed to carry enormous loads (you can increase the legal weight limit to 9000 lbs in Australia), but that is about all. The leaf spings in the rear seriously limit articulation, and they were downright sketchy on climbs and anything technical. It's no wonder the Aussies always have such dramatic videos - you only need to climb basic stuff to get massive wheel lifts galore.

The 70 series is a tractor that stopped getting better in about 1985 - don't get me wrong, it's a very good tractor, but it's a tractor.
Yes, they're fantastic on seriously remote roads in Africa (with African safety standards and expectations of comfort).
No, they wouldn't sell well in the USA.

-Dan
Sounds like a HMMWV. I hated those things except for the rare times we were off road.
 

MOAK

Adventurer
I'll take that bet.
The 70 series is not what many people think, and it would never be accepted by US consumers.
An auto journalist friend of mine flew to Australia a couple of years ago, and Toyota lent him a brand new 78 series troopy with the 4.5l v8 Turbo diesel.
This is a $120,000 vehicle that has crank windows, vinyl floors, no A/C, no cruise, no bluetooth, no backup camera, no screen, no ABS and basically anything else you can think of. You might think that's a good thing, but not for $120k it's not.

You have to wring it's neck to sit on even 70 mph, and the noise in the driving cabin is atrocious.
When I did my lap of Australia last year we travelled with a lot of people in Troopies, 76s and 79s. On just a regular old dirt road doing 50 or 60 mph, they would drive with headphones in. The noise in the cabin was so loud they couldn't even talk to their partner sitting next to them.
Meanwhile Katie and I in the Gladiator (which was cheaper) had leather heated seats, A/C, bluetooth and were in relative silence.
In terms of offroading the 70 series is designed to carry enormous loads (you can increase the legal weight limit to 9000 lbs in Australia), but that is about all. The leaf spings in the rear seriously limit articulation, and they were downright sketchy on climbs and anything technical. It's no wonder the Aussies always have such dramatic videos - you only need to climb basic stuff to get massive wheel lifts galore.

The 70 series is a tractor that stopped getting better in about 1985 - don't get me wrong, it's a very good tractor, but it's a tractor.
Yes, they're fantastic on seriously remote roads in Africa (with African safety standards and expectations of comfort).
No, they wouldn't sell well in the USA.

-Dan
I was hoping you might chime in as you have had great experiences with your jeeps. Your current set up is fantastic. And, so is our 80 series, which by all accounts is a plush version of the 76 series. It seems I’m in the minority here in the states, preferring a tractor. Have a great day & stay safe.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
186,164
Messages
2,882,749
Members
225,984
Latest member
taunger
Top