DRIVEN | If you love brave bakkies, Jeep’s Gladiator will be nirvana for you terrain

  • Jeep’s Gladiator arrives in SA three years since its global debut.
  • Shares the basics with the Wrangler and RAM 1500 heavy truck.
  • It goes everywhere, packed with all the features you could want in a 4×4.
  • For engine news, go to Hjul24

“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the armies of the north, general of the Felix legions and loyal servant of the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father of a murdered son, husband of a murdered wife. And I will get my revenge, in that this life or the next. “

Ok, it’s a bit cheesy to open the piece with one of the best monologues from one of the most outstanding films of all time, Gladiator (2000). Still, I have just returned from a windy bundu-bashing excursion in a vehicle bearing a name. Yes it Jeep Gladiator Rubicon is finally in South Africa, three years since it launched the double-cabin segment with violent off-road purpose.

Like Maximus in the movie, the Jeep Gladiator does not back down from a fight. But why would it, since it is built to be the best SUV Jeep has ever made. Under the skin, on the front, it shares some similarities with the Wrangler, while most of its rear surface comes from the powerful RAM 1500. When it comes to dual cabins, beef does not get meatier than this. Let’s stick in.

2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

Surprisingly comfortable on the road

The Gladiator combines robust usability, versatility and functionality. It features Jeeps, without a doubt, industry-leading Command-Trac and Rock-Trac 4×4 systems, third-generation Dana 44 axles, Tru-Lock electric front and rear axle locks (differential locks), a Trac-Lok differential with limited slip, and a segment-exclusive sway bar disconnect wrapped in custom BF Goodrich off-road tires.

On the way from the launch site at Forum Homini in Mankind’s cradle to our terrain excursion on Hennop’s 4×4 Trail in Hartbeespoort, it turned out to be compatible on the road. It does not roll or pitch too much on the street, which makes the trip pleasant. The steering on the road is also respectable as it does not feel as lazy when driving curves and turns compared to traditional double cabins.

Equipped with powerful Fox shock absorbers (two-inch units) and extremely powerful suspension components, you would expect it to feel uncomfortable on the road, but it is not. In fact, thanks to its stiffness and fleshy wheels and tires, you gain confidence on the road and can drive through these inevitable pits without having to replace your spleen, tires and rims. Overall, you will be happy with its driving and handling on the asphalt, especially if you are already driving a double cab.

2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

An unstoppable force in the dirty

After a quick driver review to maintain safety on the track, we hit Hennops Donga’s playground, full of deep ruts and chassis twists. We have tested off-road vehicles here before, but this time, with all the Gladiator’s driving aids, it was a completely different experience.

Just load 4L to access the low gear via a dedicated gear knob, press Offroad + on the center console and lock the diff. You can control the off-road aids via the high-resolution touch screen or press the hard keys on the console; it is up to you. However, once you have set the vehicle in its hard setting, you simply select a safe line through your obstacle and carefully apply the throttle. The car sorts everything out, handles the traction at each wheel to let it grip or slip as needed.

READ: Pritesh Ruthun | This is the most disappointing car driven in 2021

2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

Under some obstacles I thought, this is it, I’ll roll, but the Gladiator kept his composure more than I did. It simply devoured dongas, mud tracks, slopes, downhills, shoulder bends and continued to tick. We had 10 gladiators in our fleet, and none of them threw a warning sign or let down any of the testers. Jeep says that it has an approach angle of 43.6 degrees, a turning angle of 20.3 degrees, a departure angle of 26 degrees and a ground clearance of 249 mm, which means that the Gladiator can get anywhere. And it can, as it turned out at launch.

The Gladiator’s body-on-frame design uses advanced materials and technology to be lightweight yet stiff and durable. Compared to a Jeep Wrangler four-door, the Gladiator’s frame is a further 787 mm longer while the wheelbase is 493 mm longer. The longer wheelbase and the bed’s positioning center behind the rear axle centerline allow for better weight distribution and a more comfortable and more complex ride when carrying loads. Jeep engineers extended the PTO shaft, brake, fuel lines and exhaust system to cope with the changes needed to make the proven body construction work.

2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon can be equipped with more than 200 MOPAR accessories.

The only convertible double cabin you can buy

There is so much that makes Gladiator a compelling proposition. In addition to the fact that it comes with everything you need to enjoy it as an everyday vehicle, with a plethora of safety and comfort features, you can blow off the doors, roof and windshield for a total outdoor experience.

The gladiator comes with a hard top that can be removed in sections or completely. You can leave it open to the weather or wind or hit the soft top that comes with it. The doors are light and designed with grab handles so you can safely store them in the garage at home. Jeep includes a multi-tool and a box under the back seat for the bolts you remove when you turn the truck into a convertible. Under the seat is also a portable Bluetooth speaker that is charged in its cradle. You can pull out this speaker and use it at barbecues or around the house during load unloading. Nifty.

One of the best things about removing the roof is the benefit of hearing Gladiators V6 sing. Yes, it’s powered by Jeep’s proven 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which has been around since the early 2000s. It provides lots of performance on the road and outside with 209kW and 347Nm on cranes. They say it consumes about 12.1 liters per 100 km in a combined bike, but during the launch with heavy off-road driving, highway and low-speed road work, our vehicle was on average 15.7 l / 100 km. Sure, it’s thirsty, but if you can afford this Tonka truck, I’m sure the cost of fuel is not a challenge.

2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

Well worth the price … seriously

At R1 259 900, the Jeep Gladiator is the most expensive double cab you can buy with a specially built off-road capacity. It may not be able to carry more than 700 kg in its load box, but it can tow up to 2712 kg with its Max Towing package.

You can not avoid this car if you live for off-road adventures and want something that increases your driving ability. It makes 4×4 track driving so easy; you just point and squirt. It’s almost like a cheat code for off – road driving and is perfect if you just want to get in and out. No hassle with lifting kits or aftermarket rubber – just buy the Gladiator and go out on the trails as it is.

It comes with a three-year or 100,000 km maintenance plan and a five-year or 100,000 km mechanical warranty from Jeep, which is now part of Stellantis. According to the company’s spokespersons, Gladiator leads the charge for the Jeep brand in SA when it resumes fire with new products and investments in dealer networks. They also said that the global demand for Gladiator is very high, so they are only coming in a limited number at the moment. Jeep expects 35 new Gladiator bakkies to find new homes every month in South Africa. They will also consider a diesel variant for our market later in the product life cycle.

“Imagine where you will be, and it will be so.” – Maximus Decimus Meridius

Share your thoughts on the 2022 Jeep Gladiator in the comments section.

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