This Jeep flexes a cargo bed: 2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

This Jeep flexes a cargo bed: 2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

The world of trucks and truck buying in general is quite odd. Trucks are purpose-built vehicles that have, in recent years, surged in popularity thanks in part to its gentrification from being a single-purpose, agricultural workhorse to an all-around, viable family car.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Does the Jeep Gladiator have a diesel option?

    No, the Jeep Gladiator only comes with a V6 gasoline engine.
  • What is the fuel consumption of the Jeep Gladiator?

    As tested, the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon does about 4kpl in the city and 9kpl on the highway.
  • Jeep-Gladiator-Front-left-quarter

    This is thanks in large part to modern creature comforts being made available to truck models that were once only stuff of luxury sedans and, to an extent, SUVs. It also helps that they're relatively more affordable thanks to government tax breaks on light trucks.

    Jeep-Gladiator-Glamour-Shot

    And then there's the Jeep.

    Jeep-Gladiator-Rear-left-quarter-2

    In a world where trucks, even the most capable and handsome, are really a dime a dozen, the 2022 Jeep Gladiator stands out and yes, after this review, I'm confident that you'd see this more than just a Wrangler with a bed.

    Jeep-Gladiator-partial-left-headlight

    Exterior

    Outside it's undeniably a Jeep-branded vehicle. The 2022 Jeep Gladiator in this Firecracker Red Rubicon trim has no pretension of being just another truck on our streets. It grabs your attention and does so with as much subtlety as a guy wearing shorts and sneakers to a black-tie event.

    Jeep-Gladiator-Front-Profile

    The Willy's Jeep design, with its pronounced wheel arches, iconic horizontal slats on the grill, and circular headlamps — as well as exposed door hinges and squared out tail lamps — harken back to when Jeep was synonymous with being a war horse. 

    Jeep-Gladiator-Jeep-Badge

    Just like the Porsche 911, the design has simply undergone countless little evolutionary changes to keep it fresh and modern. This time, however, like a huge middle finger to all the haters, the 2022 Jeep Gladiator now has a truck bed. If you were wondering, yes you can take the doors out and fold the front windshield. Why? Because it can, and that's what it does.

    Jeep-Gladiator-Hood-Latch

    Albeit no longer than more pedestrian offerings from other brands, and even a tad more shallow than the rest, the sight of a Jeep with an extended wheelbase to accommodate the bed creates a very imposing look. It certainly passed my double-take test and pretty much broke every person's necks as I drove along.

    Jeep-Gladiator-Right-Tail-light

    The Rubicon trim earns the Jeep Gladiator its Trail Rated badge making this massive behemoth the most out-of-the-box off-roading vehicle yet. Chunky 255/75/R17 mud terrain tires on rugged alloy wheels and the 282mm ground clearance with no step-boards to speak of indicate that this machine is best used driving down beaten paths. At 5,591mm long and 1,849mm wide, this certainly isn't easy to park, but parking it isn’t what it’s made for either. No, nothing that mundane.

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    Interior

    One part of the 2022 Jeep Gladiator that has certainly benefited from all those years of design evolution is the interior. Analog dials, and tactile switches are the stars of the show. One thing that passengers will notice is the arrangement and placement of the controls. They’re located higher up, which might not exactly be the pinnacle of convenience and ergonomics but are there for a very good reason. Going off road isn’t exactly a dry affair and just like a popular ride at Enchanted Kingdom, there is a significant chance that you will get wet.

    Jeep-Gladiator-Driver-cockpit-far

    Thankfully that would not be a problem as all the electronics are protected by some level of weather sealing. Sure, hard plastics abound in the interior, but it isn’t for cost-cutting measures but for durability’s sake. And for what it’s worth, the surface and materials of these hard plastics can even put the best rubberized materials of some other models to shame. It’s almost porcelain and bitumen-like to the touch. 

    Jeep-Gladiator-Speaker

    If interior space is a luxury, then the Jeep Gladiator certainly has an embarrassment of riches in the truck segment. This isn’t a surprise, really, considering how large it looks from the outside. Comfort is another question, as the seats are on the top end of the hardness scale and honestly, it took me quite a while to figure out how to adjust the driver’s seat. But it’s something fans of the brand have come accustomed to and anyone looking to buy a Jeep would never mind.

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    Cupholders, USB ports, and a smart mesh mounting system behind the front passenger seats allow versatility with any piece of equipment owners might want to bring along with them. There’s even fancy folding rear seats for more options.

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    The garish and chunky steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake and a nice digital screen will greet you head on, but front and center is the all-new 8.4-inch U-Connect system that pushes tunes out of nine Alpine-branded speakers. Fancy stuff if you ask me, but even dirty boys and girls need to drive to the grocery sometime.

    Jeep-Gladiator-TOuchscreen

    The drive

    I’ve often been jaded with reviewing pickup trucks. They can package themselves as being sporty or luxurious but as I begin the driving test of any truck, I realize that I’m behind the wheel of a truck; riding high, oftentimes harsh, and I get the feeling that I’m off to the hardware store to put some construction materials in the bed.

    Jeep-Gladiator-Locking-front-and-rear-diff

    Not the 2022 Jeep Gladiator though. It doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a rugged truck, and I’m quite surprised with how it drives. Up high and harsh still, yes, but instead of the hardware store, I instinctively want to drive off away from the tarmac. I was somehow possessed by myself but with a plaid t-shirt, ripped jeans, Doc Martens and a sun-burnt left arm. Driving this truck added some macho points.

    Jeep-Gladiator-Off-the-road

    The ride is harsh no thanks in part to the purpose-tuned Fox suspension riding on a front and rear live axle suspension. It’s as old-school as you can get, and the 2022 Jeep Gladiator rides like nothing available in the market today. Steering is quite heavy and the turning radius isn’t city friendly and that’s alright. It makes the road adapt to it and not the other way around.

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    Under the hood is a 3.6 liter 24-valve DOHC Pentastar V6 engine that makes 285 horsepower and 352Nm of torque. Diesel fans might sneer at those numbers and might actually be wishing for a diesel variant of the 2022 Jeep Gladiator, but badass and ruggedness isn’t measured by torque figures, it’s not about how many horses you have on a truck, it’s about what breed those horses are. Of course, all these are just what my mind tells me.

    Punching the throttle causes my brain to wonder where the pull is, the same feel that butt dyno gets when punching a regular diesel midsized truck isn’t there, but I didn’t mind at all. 

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    The 2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon doesn’t accelerate. It advances. 

    Jeep-Gladiator-Shifter

    The eight-speed automatic transmission does a great job maintaining the right engine speed with what is asked of the 2022 Jeep Gladiator. It won’t win any races, pull or carry more weight than the rest, but it shouldn’t have to. It won’t be getting any awards for fuel economy either. Despite my best efforts, the best fuel economy number I can muster up in the city is at 4kpl, and on the open road I get about 9kpl.

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    It has all the standard safety features that is expected from any truck, but nothing that can distract drivers from their purpose. I do appreciate the parking sensors and cameras, though. I would not want to ruin the Firecracker Red paint.

    Conclusion and pricing

    It’s at this point that I should be telling you what other models out there can compete with the 2022 Jeep Gladiator. In a world with the reliable Toyota Hilux GR-Sport, Ford Ranger Raptor and the new Ford F150, Ram 1500 or anything else, the Jeep Gladiator stands out. Once behind the wheel, you would not mind all the others, that’s what real ruggedness is all about and it will cost you, P4,790,000 to be exact for this Rubicon trim and P3,890,000 for the lesser Sport model.

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    One thing is certain (and I have first-hand experience on this), it's going to be hard to convince the family to get a rugged truck instead of a more practical crossover or sedan, and for this you'll have to justify your choice, create excuses simply to have what you actually want. Its a large vehicle with barely any practical cargo space

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    Not so with the Jeep Gladiator. It doesn’t pretend to be anything but the embodiment of the word "badass." 

    Photos by Roy Robles

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