2020 Jeep Gladiator pickup first drive: A class of one

Fear not: The increased size comes with minimal off-road penalties. For one, approach and departure angles — a measurement of how steep an obstacle is that the truck can ascend and descend — remain impressive. Compare the Gladiator Rubicon’s 43.4 and 26 degree approach and departure angles to the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon’s 43.9 and 37 degrees (the Gladiator’s departure angle takes a big hit because of the overhanging bed in back).The decrease in breakover angle, from 22.6 degrees to 20.3 degrees, is a function of the vehicle’s added length; you’ll have to take a little more care to not high-center the Gladiator on gnarly obstacles. That said, the Gladiator is actually slightly better when it comes to ground clearance: 11.1 inches to 10.8 inches.At launch, all Gladiators are powered by the familiar 3.6-liter gasoline V6 producing 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard across all trims, with an eight-speed auto offered as an option.Towing capacities vary substantially depending on the trim and transmission. An auto-equipped Sport can tow up to 7,650 pounds when properly equipped, while a manual Rubicon can trailer up to 4,500 pounds (auto Rubicons do better at 7,000 pounds). Compare this to just 3,500 pounds max for the Wrangler. It’s enough to best all but the diesel-powered Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon when it comes to midsize pickups.Interestingly, the upcoming Gladiator diesel won’t be able to tow as much as the gas-powered Sport — it’s a matter of cooling, I’m told.  All Gladiators are equipped with Dana 44 axles front and rear, but Rubicons get a wide track variant as standard equipment. Rubicons also get standard Tru-Lock front and rear electric locking differentials operated by a satisfying red switch on the center console, an antiroll bar disconnect and a Rock-Trac transfer case with a 4.0:1 low range ratio. Other Gladiators make due wit the Command-Trac case.Thirty-three-inch Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires are standard fitment for the Rubicon, with Wildpeak mud-terrain tires offered as an option. As with the Wranglers, the Gladiator is designed to accept 35-inch tires and a 2-inch lift with no modification to the bodywork or fenders.